2016 Digital Marketing Predictions

As ever, digital marketing approaches and channels continue to evolve year on year with new platforms and targeting methods combined with changes in consumer behaviour causing new trends to emerge.

Video marketing will continue to dominate

Video was probably the hottest topic last year, and we don’t think 2016 will be any different. Year on year video engagement has increased: The Drum claims that 1 minute of video now has the same impact as 1.8 million words online.
The intrinsic connection between video, social media and mobile will play an integral role in digital strategies in 2016. We anticipate that image and video-centric social platforms including the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and Snapchat will continue to see an increase in usage. We expect the advertising opportunities and monetisation of each will lead to an increase in advertising spends across such sites, particularly as they expand upon targeting capabilities and focus on ROI, ecommerce and lead generation initiatives.
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Chart data from: Statista

2015 saw marketers utilise relative newcomers to the video market, such as Vine and Snapchat, as promotional platforms. Many brands decided to collaborate with ‘Viners’ to promote products and services and Snapchat have partnered with some big brands such as Buzzfeed and Food Network to provide users with creative content. With the continued increase in mobile video consumption, we expect advertisers to react with targeted, mobile specific video campaigns and a steady rise in vertical video and live streaming approaches.
Video enabled platforms are continuing to expand the features they’re offering to users. Facebook released video 360 in 2015, providing advertisers with a more interactive format and featured auto-play video ads much more prominently and heavily in the mobile app. Such was the success of this, they enabled slideshow ads to allow smaller advertisers to utilise imagery to create mini video clips.
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The enhancements made to video advertising platforms has given marketers greater access to more advanced targeting capabilities to proactively promote services and products. Technological advancements across video and smartphone device types have made producing video easier and more affordable to a wider range of businesses. These two points combined have led to increased budget allocations and investment in such media which we can only see growing in 2016.
We’re sure the battle of the video giants, YouTube and Facebook will continue to heat up, with other newer competitors continuing to gain market share as they expand their current offerings and draw in more marketers to their platforms. With new ad formats currently being tested, such as YouTube’s Shoppable Ads (which we expect to be rolled out to everyone in 2016), video marketing is not likely to be side-lined any time soon, particularly as in this example, such advertising platforms are seeking to offer ad formats and targeting with a greater alignment towards conversions and transactions and ultimately a positive return on investment.
According to an econsultancy article, Cisco have predicted that video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by 2017. This year, Android showed exactly what can be done with great video, as it created this fantastic piece that went viral, resulting in it being viewed on YouTube over 21 million times:

As over 50% of YouTube content is now consumed on mobile, YouTube created shorter, mobile-specific ads for one of their campaigns that promoted the work of their curators: SORTEDfood and Copa90. They invested in device-tailored creative and saw awareness increase by 18% for mobile specific ads when compared with desktop ads shown on mobile.
Video is slowly working its way into other marketing platforms and channels. YouTube is already the second largest search engine behind Google based upon queries conducted, but the expansion will reach across and into search engine results pages this year. In late 2015, Google confirmed that it will begin introducing video advertising in its SERPs. In addition to this, through Google’s new App Indexing, native mobile apps will begin ranking in results providing marketers with another platform to extend the reach of their apps.
Mobile voice search is also continuing to grow in popularity. Whilst it hasn’t had the same uptake in the UK yet, almost fifty-percent of all millennials already use voice search in the US.

Overall, in the last twelve months alone mobile search has changed dramatically, with site speed becoming a ranking factor and the likes of Google becomimg less tolerant of non-mobile friendly or optimised websites.
This brings us into our next big ‘thing’ of 2016:

Mobile is on the up

It is fairly apparent that internet giants such as Google are placing such a strong emphasis on mobile, video and apps – as these have seen the biggest trend shifts in recent years.
Both 2014 and 2015 were sighted as the ‘year for mobile’ and the most exciting development in this area we believe has been across payment options and gateways. Businesses such as PayPal and Amazon have focused on simplifying and optimising the path to purchase on mobile, and alongside the invention of Apple Pay, have given users more confidence in transacting online through such devices. Whereas previously we had seen increases in search volume and website traffic from mobile, we are now viewing improvements across e-commerce, transactional and conversion data. So much so, that many online brands now take a ‘mobile first’ approach. 2016 will also see a greater focus on mobile data and optimisation to reflect this shift.
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Consumers are becoming increasingly relaxed about sharing their data online, however they still remain wary about advertisers misusing their data, as econsultancy discusses. There seems to be a lack of trust between consumer and brand: 54% of consumers worry about data misuse, and a large 39% worry about mobiles sharing their location. Despite these concerns, consumers are interested in receiving location based ads, with 62% of those surveyed happy to receive special offers near to them, which suggests the convenience and chance of a bargain/reduced rate far outweighs the risk of them sharing their data. 67.2% of users now access email via a smart phone, so optimised responsive email templates will become increasingly important.
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We predict that in 2016, this change in attitude towards data sharing will continue on the same path, with marketers gaining more information from their audiences, which they can then use to influence their purchases and target new micro-segmented demographics. Econsultancy say that 2016 will be the year that 2014 and 2015’s ‘big data’ will be turned into meaningful mobile experiences, as users only want to be seeing things that matter to them, such as local offers. Smarter data use will lead to different patterns where mobile interactions are concerned. Think With Google found that over half of consumers are more likely to shop to buy from mobile sites and apps if the information they’re being shown is relevant to their location.
Mobile Google Stats
As people become more trusting about sharing data and become increasingly attached to their mobile devices, the amount of time spent on them continues to rise, especially as more processes become actionable using a smartphone. Google found that everyday, the global population checks a smartphone roughly 100 billion times per day, which means there are 100 billion chances to gather data and reach out to these consumers EVERY SINGLE DAY.
We all know that mobile search is on the up, with 56% of consumers searching on a mobile before purchasing and 40% of online sales taking place on a smartphone or tablet in the UK, which is why bigger investment needs to be made into mobile specific content and ads this year.

Content, the big beautiful world of all things content

Most brands now incorporate content marketing within their wider digital strategy. In early 2015, we listed a few reasons why you should be take content marketing seriously and throughout last year, we saw many brands do exactly as we predicted, such as corporate story telling and focusing on promoting content just as much as creating it.
Econsultancy predicts that content marketers will begin creating content for specific devices and platforms, as 2016 will certainly not be a ‘one size fits all’, just as YouTube did with the previously mentioned campaign above. Although most purchases are not made on a mobile device, the majority of searches are, which is why creating custom content to target each device (with the correct messaging of course) will be imperative in achieving a successful strategy in 2016.
Take Trip Adviser’s Top 10 Islands for 2015 piece that we wrote about a few months back. It had engaging and intriguing written content, combined with stunning full width imagery to give users a fully immersive experience when compared with their main website.

Content marketing is nothing new, but greater and more unique opportunities are emerging that are better aligned with technological advancements, audience behaviours and other wider digital platform trends.
One such trend is content co-creation, where brands create content together with their consumers through collaborations and the inclusion of user generated content.
The year ahead is also likely to see a much greater diversification of content types, formats and platforms, with a particular focus on visual content. Interactive content will be especially popular as audiences begin to get bored with flat, basic written content. Such content engages users through interaction and is proving highly effective. NeoMam Studios wrote a great article early last year, with some fantastic stats stating why you should care about visual content.
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The core delivery of useful, relevant, timely and quality content will remain the most important factor but introducing tools and resources that aid customers will achieve much greater results than traditional white papers for most businesses.
From an organic perspective, in addition to content marketing as a driving force, impending Penguin algorithmic updates are also likely to have a big impact in 2016. Although originally planned for late 2015, the latest Penguin update is now likely to occur in early 2016 after an initial delay. The update has been evolving since the first roll out in 2012 but rather than irregular large changes, this is anticipated to be a ‘real time’ solution.
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There you have it – our marketing predictions for the year ahead. Take a look at the top 5 web trends we’re expecting to see throughout 2016 here.

Written by Shannon May