Jim Hawker of Threepipe: seven digital trends that will change marketing in 2016

To say digital advertising is a fast moving landscape is an understatement. It seems to have a constant onslaught of new technologies, targeting capabilities and propositions to be understood and explored every week.

This constant evolution can be hard to keep up with – yet is also one of the best things about the industry. There’s so much to sustain interest and innovation can be found from many different angles. Is this article, I want to take out the crystal ball and highlight seven trends to keep an eye out for in 2016.

Cross device tracking will allow greater levels of visibility into user journeys.

Vibrant-MediaNew technology has developed; examining the relationship between different devices that cookies never could. The importance and wide ranging implications of this will furnish marketers with new understanding. As user journeys across devices become more evident, strategies to exploit these subtle differences will inevitably become more common. This is likely to conclude with a generous shift in budgets between both the different devices and the practices applied on them. Consequently, all of this should be an improved and smoother experience for the user, delivering a greater reliability of brand experience regardless of device.

Personalisation will become way more personal.

Full personalisation of conversations with customers will bring the CRM world into display creative.

Technology is evolving, allowing the incorporation of offline and online store data creating the possibility to use it programmatically, reaching out to customers through display ad units, without have to depend on the use of cookies. This builds a true view of a single customer across devices and thus the marketing treatment of each customer can be entirely personalised to what is known about them. The creative possibilities that can be powered in this manner are endless. All of this will enable improved performance and efficiency, making further advances in cutting out the purchase of flawed ad space.

Mobile will dominate over desktop.

We have reached a tipping point for the relationship between desktop and mobile where mobile is now becoming the preferred route to access the internet. Mobile ad spend is on the increase and positively predicted to continue in this manner. 2016 is the year for developing a mobile first strategy in terms of marketing spends. Websites need to be mobile optimised or run the risk of falling foul of Google’s algorithm so we need marketing strategies that treat mobile seriously. Whilst conversion rates remain generally lower on mobile compared with desktop, this increased ease of use should see this start to change. With technology now starting to link purchase journeys across devices, the true value of mobile will become ever clearer.

Joined up thinking.

In 2016, the move from digital silos into more united teams is going to see an increased momentum.

Threepipe’s client briefs increasingly include aspects that may traditionally have been seen in silos, positioned in combination. We need to understand the impact different channels have on the end goal in order to achieve successful implementation, with the lines between paid, earned, owned and operated becoming increasingly intertwined. The best and only way of achieving this goal is through effective structuring. We should then see the days of different departments fighting over budgets start to wane as a more collaborative philosophy develops.

Wearable technology’s coming of age.

In 2015 we saw Apple take technology to a new level by releasing an exciting new product; a first generation smartwatch. We’re set to see any more examples of wearable technology come to market in 2016. There are many interesting opportunities both in terms of the data it creates and the advertising possibilities provided by wearable technology. They will create an abundance of information around which to analyse habits, attitudes and behaviour patterns. The nature of the devices means that a certain amount of creative flair will be required to advertise effectively on them, in terms of the creative execution itself and also the relevance of ‘on-the-go’ information. But these efforts should offer up rich rewards.

Content will still be king.

Although content marketing is already established, there is an ever increasing expectation from users to be provided by brands with relevant, educational and entertaining content.

Whether that be through social media, blogs or website content, it is a fantastic opportunity to tell significant and meaningful stories to users on top[ of building brand rapport – not to mention drive conversions further down the line. This not only creates great, organic reach but can also be supported by paid elements, strengthening the ability to connect with users even further. Programmatic will also play an important role here as native ad units become increasingly available through this medium.
Video advertising will grow and diversify.

2016 is the year we are going to see more and more opportunity for video advertising. The world we live in is far removed from the TV-dominated one of old. The sheer increased popularity of video content all across the web is testament to that. Periscope (below), Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, amongst others, are all in the game. Millennials in particular prefer consuming video on these platforms instead of actual television sets. Google now takes video into account much more through its processes and programmatic video is also on the rise. All these factors are working in tandem with an ever increasing availability of inventory – meaning that it is going to be an incredible year for video advertising.

All things considered, 2016 is shaping up to be another interesting year adorned with technological advances. Whilst these will be of undoubted help to marketers and enable brands to explore further routes for revenue generation, it is the users that will see the greatest benefit: more meaningful and personalised conversations with the brands they love.

Jim Hawker is a cofounder of Threepipe. Threepipe is an independent marketing agency of paid media, social, PR and SEO specialists working alongside data analysts, lead generators and content creators.

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