We’ve already seen two full weeks of 2016 pass by. Like everyone else, our writers are also curious as to what the new year has in store, and what topics will become important in marketing. We asked our editors about their opinion; which trend will be big in 2016? Here’s what they said:
Yvette Fransen: Perfectly personalized marketing
2015 was really the year of content marketing: using this technique, you create and distribute valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract a very clearly defined audience. Marketing strategies shifted from ‘simply’ selling a product to conveying an inspiring message that aims to reflect the shared values of the company and its customers. I think that this trend might evolve in 2016 into personalized content marketing.
Companies already make use of targeted marketing, by splitting their customers into segments, based on demographics. Different from content marketing, personalization does not only focus on customer attraction but also on retention. The extensive use of data is very promising: every single step you take can be documented and translated into marketing insights. Websites will transform from general pages to personalized ones and companies will adapt their selling technique to your personal buying preferences.
However, something to keep in mind is privacy. We need to accept live movement tracking, in order for marketers to personalize their content. I am expecting personalized marketing to change the way we use the internet, but am also eager to see how companies cross this hurdle!
Susanne ten Brink: Video will take over Google search
Near the end of the year, I found out that Google was gradually and obscurely testing a new type of advertising, namely Video Advertising. They were doing this by enabling the app for a few seconds and measuring the responses. This isn’t exactly the start of film advertising at online platforms, but I think I can say that it is the start of a major shift in attitude towards this type of advertising. Facebook has been facilitating video-sharing since the beginning of time; Snapchat has (relatively) recently started helping brands connect with its users through short, interactive clips, and website pop-ups on often contain videos with commercial messages. And, of course: brands have been advertising on YouTube for years.
Ads with a combination of sound and sight have great power in affecting our behaviors. Google is cautious with new developments because they simply always want to get it right. The accumulated momentum video advertising has gained, must have finally convinced the company to start playing with it. So how should we envision our future Google searches? Thumbnails would pop up in our browsers, and enlarge as we move our mouse across the visual. It poses a huge opportunity for brands to target different consumer effectively with different ads. And, with the sheer size of Google’s user base and impact of their movement in the industry, I am expecting many more platforms (especially on our mobile phones) to follow soon!
Marjolein Tromp: Mobile will be your everything
A mobile website used to be ‘nice to have’, in 2016 it will be a must-have. People are more connected to their phone than ever: 80% of smartphone users, between 18 and 44 years old, say that their phone is the first thing they touch in the morning. Google confirmed the relevance of this trend with the release of the ‘Mobilegeddon’ algorithm, which sorts out websites that are not optimized for mobile. Soon your SEO will be determined by the mobile-friendly design of your brand’s website. Additionally, Google revealed some interesting mobile statistics about last year, stating that, for the first time, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic in 10 different countries.
So if your website is not yet optimized for mobile usage, hurry! The fact of the matter is that a non-mobile website will cost you customers. This holds especially for younger Millennials (12-24 year old) as 87% of them indicate that they are never without their smartphone. If this trend continues, mobile will not be just your extra feature, it will be your everything. Which reminds me to look into the mobile version of the Amsterdam Marketing Student soon, or this advice would KINDA fall into the category ‘pot calling the kettle black’.
Felix Kausmann: Expanded reality
Last year I went to Madame Tussauds here in Amsterdam and found that even they are using it: Virtual Reality. By wearing an Oculus Rift headset, you can experience in 3D how it feels like to stand on stage next to Afrojack or Armin van Buuren. So far, the new technology has mostly been used on special events only to show the “coolness” of companies and to represent their openness to new fancy tools. However, this year will be different as the technology will be released to the consumer market. Next to Facebook’s Oculus Rift that is already open for pre-orders, there will also be headsets from HTC, Sony, Samsung and others which will give the technology a whole new reach.
Maybe even more interesting in terms of marketing are concepts like the Google Glass or the Microsoft Holo Lens that are based on Augmented Reality. This technology adds a virtual overlay to the objects you see and shows additional information. Hence, it is not replacing but expanding the “normal” reality. Think of being in a shopping centre, and being able to gather info about the products and services offered in the shops around you, just by looking through the lenses of your Google Glass. This offers consumers concrete added value and holds various opportunities for advertising. Definitely a big thing in 2016! For concrete ideas how to use Virtual Reality for marketing purposes, see e.g. Econsultancy’s blog post from last June.
Kim van der Vliet: Interactive ads everywhere
In the past ten years, technology has changed our lives more than it did in the hundred years before that. It is actually quite stunning to see how much technology can advance in just one year. I can only predict that 2016 will bring nothing less: everything will be bigger, better and faster than the years before.
My specific prediction for 2016 is: more interaction. Interaction is already key in a lot of marketing strategies; brands have their own pages on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram where they interact with customers. But I’m not just talking about social media here: I’m talking about interactive billboards and screens as well.
To give you an idea of what I mean: The Swedish Cancer foundation placed interactive screens at train and metro stations not much longer than a year ago. The screens showed an adolescent girl staring into the camera, her hair moving around a bit as if she was standing in the light breeze you are standing in on a train platform. But, whenever a metro or a train passes the station, the screen gets triggered to play the rest of the ad – the woman loses her hair, it turns out to be a wig! The ending message is ‘Every day a child is diagnosed with cancer’. Now that’s interaction on a whole new level! I think – and really hope – that this is something we will encounter more this year; advertisements that interact with our surroundings. That is something that really triggers attention!
Susanne Deen: Back to the roots
When you start thinking about trends in general, you usually think about innovation and improvement. But, just like in the area of fashion, I think that marketing trends can also repeat! So, maybe marketing in 2016 will go back to basics! You already see many companies here in the Netherlands which are branding themselves with classic, old-school Dutch names, skip the English and keep it real and simple!
This concept might be extended to the marketing of these companies. Think about simple layouts, short messages and the use of traditional materials. For example, drop the fancy glowing packaging and sparkling goods and keep it simple, basic and go back to nature! Think about minimal design and wooden materials for their marketing! Companies might want to set an image of casualness and simplicity through their marketing activities.
What’s your guess?
As you can see, we have quite a big range of predictions here. Whatever this year might offer, we are more than curious to hear about your opinion! What are your prophecies for 2016? Feel free to share in the comments below!