Marketing Predictions for 2016

Thanks to digital technologies, marketing has been undergoing some dramatic changes over the past decade most notably the shift from “broadcast messaging” to “one-on-one engagement.” But what will happen in the years to come? I’ve put together a few thoughts on what we might see more (or less) of in 2016 and beyond:

  1. More content—one byproduct of the digitization of marketing is that it’s easier to produce and publish content. From videos to blog posts to social media updates to infographics and everything in between, B2B and B2C marketers are making content like it’s going out of style. This will continue to accelerate in 2016 as organizations recognize the power of content to attract, acquire, and convert buyers across the buyer’s journey.
  2. More video—as a follow up to #1, marketers will increasingly spend their content money on video production. It’s clear that people want to watch more video and there’s even science behind why we are attracted to video. 2016 will see an explosion in video content production giving credence to Cisco’s predictions that 80% of Internet traffic will be video by 2019.
  3. Less advertising—at the same time that content production is increasing, advertising is going to continue to decline. We’ve already seen the impact of declining ad revenue in print media (on newspapers and magazines); we’re seeing it in television as well (ratings continue to decline); and, thanks to ad blocking technologies, we’ll probably see that happen across the Web too. Thankfully in 2016, though, advertisers can turn their sights to content production and content syndication as a way to supplant traditional advertising.
  4. Improved interaction—the problem with content today is that it’s very static. There is little opportunity for people to engage with information in any meaningful fashion. But a host of startups and technology companies are trying to change that, especially around video. We will continue to seetransmedia experimentation by brands throughout 2016 as well as new, interactive video technologies as marketers try and figure out how to make their content more compelling.
  5. The cloud—as marketing becomes more dependent upon big data to help define target audiences, personalize experiences, and drive ROI, organizations will turn increasingly to the cloud to help them gather data, crunch numbers, and programmatically run campaigns. Although 2016 won’t see a wholesale shift, we will continue to see new ways for marketers to integrate and leverage the cloud as part of their overall marketing strategy. Look for a big play from Amazon here.
  6. Tighter integration—right now, marketers face an increasingly challenging dilemma: how to make all of the disparate systems they need to run dynamic marketing campaigns, publish content, and engage with audiences work together. Unfortunately, many of these systems don’t communicate with each other at all. In 2016 we will start to see more integration between systems, either through cloud-based middleware, more open standards/APIs, or single systems providing a full range of features and services.
  7. Collaborative marketing—as more organizations produce more content, the result is an increasing amount of noise in the market making it more and more difficult (without extremely large budgets) to “go it alone.” In 2016, we will start to see more collaborative marketing efforts between potentially competing organizations (co-opetition), especially in markets where there is a dominant competitor.
  8. Dynamic marketing—it’s clear that personalization technologies are critical to providing users with an experience that seems tailored to them. In fact, according to a recent study by Limelight Networks, consumers are even becoming more accepting of personalization as part of the overall web experience. In order to differentiate from competitors, marketers will need to continue to leverage these technologies to provide dynamic experiences for their audiences, especially cross platform. In 2016, the already heightened awareness for this will continue to grow and marketers will earmark more of their budgets towards personalization.
  9. VR Experimentation—although VR technologies will still be very young in 2016, there’s no doubt that brands with deeper pockets will begin to experiment as a way to separate themselves from the noise caused by increasing content production. 2016 will begin to show us what’s possible even as consumer curiosity in these new technologies grows.
  10. Beacons—location-based technology has always been a holy-grail for marketers but it’s largely been fragmented and difficult to implement. Thankfully, the world of beacons has opened up massive opportunities for marketers in retail locations to take advantage of their audience’s location. We will continue to see some experimentation in 2016 as brands try to figure out just how to make beaconing technology work for their marketing efforts.

The gist? There’s not going to be anything dramatic changing in marketing for 2016. We are going to see a lot of what’s happening in 2015 continue through next year, with some elements accelerating (like video content production) and others gaining more mindshare (like VR and personalization).

Jason Thibeault is the senior director of marketing strategy for Limelight Networks. In this role he helps direct Limelight’s corporate messaging and positioning, develops whitepapers and e-books, blogs, and evangelizes the Limelight solution offering to audiences around the world. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of California, Irvine Honors Program and a M.A. in English, with distinction, from California State University, Northridge. Jason is the co-author of the marketing thought-leadership book Recommend This! Delivering Digital Experiences People Want to Share (Wiley), the middle-reader chapter series Marmalade (Dime Novel Books), and rethinkeverythingblog.com. He is an inventor on a number of technical patents with Limelight Networks. Follow him on twitter @_jasonthibeault.

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