10 Digital Marketing Trends to Watch in 2016

With all the advances in digital marketing in 2015, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for this year. Driving most of our 2016 digital marketing predictions is the idea that consumers’ actions and mindset will be at the center of everything — all the decisions marketers will make will be determined by what, how, and when consumers want something. We will also see technology and marketing processes start to catch up to this expectation, which means Big Data will become more useable than ever before.

So, what are the biggest trends we’re looking forward to? Here’s the top 10, straight from NHI’s digital leadership team.

Digital Marketing Trends 2016

  1. Think mobile first, desktop second
  2. Digital ad spend will increase, and CPMs will follow
  3. User experience becomes a priority
  4. Apps will become a new digital norm
  5. Personalization will scale, especially with online-to-offline technology
  6. Paid social will continue to prove ROI
  7. Brands will do everything to keep users on-platform and in-app
  8. Video ads will have biggest influence on audiences
  9. Digitization of traditional media advances
  10. Ad blocker conversation continues
  1. Think mobile first, desktop second

    Most marketers began to take mobile more seriously last year, but in 2016 it will be a must-have strategy. Why? Because it’s where consumers live, research, and shop. With increases in m-commerce sales and mobile ad spend, and major moves by the biggest digital companies — Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon, and most recently Walmart — to simplify the transition from mobile shopping to mobile payments, mobile will be need to come first.

  1. Digital ad competition increases

    2016 is shaping up to be one of the most competitive years in the history of digital advertising. What’s driving this? Three critical market factors: television upfronts, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, and U.S. political ad spending. Be prepared for higher digital CPMs and the need to be increasingly innovative with your digital strategies. If you need a couple tips to get you going, Media Director, Christine Campbell, has you covered in her recent blog.

  1. User experience becomes a priority

    With users spending more time on digital platforms, user experience (UX) design will need to be top-of-mind for every marketer, especially as it relates to mobile and eCommerce sites. According to Adobe, if content is not optimized and user- friendly, 79% of users will search for another site to complete their task. This means 2016 is the year of not only understanding what users want to find on your site, but how easy it is for them to accomplish this once they arrive. Need some proof points? See more statistics on the importance of UX here.

  1. Apps will become a new digital norm

    2015 saw significant increases in app usage and big changes in the way apps are treated in search results. The result? 2016 is primed for mobile apps to become a primary vehicle for brand content and user engagement, and for app downloads to be considered a key KPI. This does not mean, however, that brands should develop apps simply to have one — recent research has shown that apps related to behavioral habits (daily behaviors like getting your caffeine fix) or on-demand services (ordering an Uber or Lyft) are some of the most successful.

  1. Personalization will scale, especially with online-to-offline technology

    The trend of personalization will continue next year, but will be seen across all media types from one-to-one interactions (email) to large scale customizations (20,000 buying behavior recommendations for 10,000 other buys — think Amazon). Personalization will scale more easily with the ability to reach consumers during all their ‘moments that matter’, especially with the help of online-to-offline technology: pre-visit with location targeting, during a visit with in-store beacons, and post-visit with retargeting capabilities. As tracking devices become increasingly sophisticated, expect to see this kind of innovation applied to more and more brands.

digital marketing trends 2016

Photo: BusinessInsider

Target continues to set the curve with the pop up shop in Manhattan and the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) keys that could eventually connect digital and in-store sales.

  1. Paid social will continue to prove ROI

    The average mobile user spends a whopping 26 hours per month on social apps; for Millennials, it’s 16% higher than the total audience. To compliment industry increases in social media spend, 2016 will see significant updates to social ad formats as platforms compete for paid social dollars — think of the changes we’ve already seen with Twitter and Facebook. Paid social has already become one of the most nimble, low-cost, and successful advertising mediums, and in light of all the updates sure to come this year it’s a must-have digital tactic.

  1. Brands will do everything to keep users on-platform and in-app

    To improve user experience and give brands more opportunities to engage with users, social platforms will increasingly focus on keeping users on-site and in-app as much as possible. Two key ways this has already started? eCommerce and social messaging. With in-app eCommerce, we will see increased integration to purchase natively through new calls-to-action (think buyable pins and buy buttons). With social messaging, we see the first signs of social personalization and one-to-one communication between brand and customer.

  1. Video ads will have biggest influence on audiences

    2015 was the year video won over consumers — think about all the changes we saw with live-streaming platforms like Periscope, Facebook’s video enhancements, and YouTube’s success with how-to videos. Video will remain critical in 2016, but success will require more than simply having videos on your website. Quality video content across the consumer journey that is targeted toward key audiences will become standard, and content marketers will increase investment in video.

  1. Digitization of traditional media advances

    In 2016, traditional advertising will become increasingly digital, and more and more we’ll see digital media complement traditional spend (for example, aligning paid search bids to TV schedules). We will also see digital out-of-home advertisements increase and innovate — AT&T’s recent announcement of its Data Patterns service was the start of this, and gives advertisers the ability to know just how many people saw out-of-home displays.

  1. Ad blocker conversation continues 

    You can’t open a digital trade these days without seeing an article about ad blockers – increasing numbers of people, with millennials leading the charge, are opting for programs that eliminate ad units on the web page. This isn’t brand new, but it’s become an unavoidable conversation. In 2016, we will see digital content users beginning to understand that advertising revenue is what allows them to consume content for “free,” as publishers, like GQ, take a stand against ad blockers.

Looking Forward

Digital marketing seems to be changing faster and faster everyday. As it exponentially advances, keep a close eye on digital trends and make sure your digital strategy is well-rounded, and embrace what we all love most about digital advertising — the opportunity to be innovative.






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