The online marketing industry is complex and evolutionary but also oh-so-exciting and entertaining. Each year, new hardware, software, companies and user preferences dictate changes that either get adopted or ignored by the world. Early adopters can get a leg up on the competition, if they choose wisely on which trend to back, while those lagging behind miss out on a key opportunity to retain their positions.
After doing extensive research, I agree, for the most part, with Jayson DeMers of Forbes on the 2016 trends to be on the lookout for. His strategy on 2016 is solid and, although I have additional and differing opinions on some of his trends, we agree that these are the ones to watch:
- Video ads will dominate. Video ads have been around for a while, with YouTube dedicated to hosting billions of videos and advertising platforms like Facebook and Bing offering advertisers video options. 2016 is promising to be a bit different, however. Google is stepping it up with in-SERP video advertising. This demonstrates that users are more in tune with video ads. As that trend continues, we expect to see more and more of these on a daily basis. The key with video ads is to be relevant and ensure that the most important part of your message is projected in the beginning of the video. This guarantees that the information you most want viewed captures your audience’s attention before they can exit the video ad.
- An explosion of apps. Google has offered app indexing for a while, but as the ranking possibilities for apps become more complex, 2016 will be the year more businesses realize the online visibility advantages of a dedicated app. A mobile-optimized site works wonders for appealing to the mobile crowd. Soon, however, apps could begin to replace them. Apps can do everything websites can, except in more intuitive, conveniently accessible ways. We’re still several years away from apps completely replacing websites as a medium, but 2016 will be a pivotal year in app adoption.
- Mobile browsing will dominate desktop use. 2015 was a big year for mobile. Google announced that mobile traffic overtook desktop in 10 different countries. It was also the year the “Mobilegeddon” algorithm update was released to phase out sites not optimized for mobile. Were you aware that you don’t have to have a desktop site in order to have a mobile site? Mobile alone is perfectly acceptable. This leads us to believe that the smart money rests on increasing mobile-focused online marketing. 2016 will likely be the beginning of this transition, and it will continue to progress as more people are on the move and rely heavily on smartphones to keep them in touch.
- Digital assistants will need a new kind of optimization. Search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising are two very popular strategies for getting your site seen by thousands of potential customers. The adaptation of digital assistants, however, is going to put a kink in this marketing strategy, so get ready to learn a whole new system of optimization. Digital assistants like Siri and Cortana utilize traditional search engines but only if it’s necessary to find information. The key to optimizing in this new format is to make sure your information is now accessible to these assistants as well. You should begin to see the implementation of this in the later part of 2016 as it will become a new staple in the optimization structure.
- Virtual reality will emerge. There are dozens of different virtual reality devices set to release in the next few years, some of which are dedicated for specific applications like video games. Oculus Rift, the most hyped VR device, is set to release in the first quarter of 2016. Oculus Rift and other VR devices will introduce an entirely new medium of online advertising with integration to popular social media platforms, video channels and forms of direct messaging. Imagine the possibilities of advertising within a virtual reality – your character could be strolling down the street and see a McDonald’s restaurant within the scene. It’s not that far away and could completely revolutionize future advertising. There’s always a chance this could be a fad, but with billions of funding dollars in limbo, I’m ready to bet otherwise.
- Wearable Technology. While not quite on the level of virtual reality, wearable “smart” devices should start gaining more traction in 2016. In 2015, we saw the unveiling of the Apple Watch, a first-generation smartwatch. More smartwatches and similar wearable devices are expected to emerge.
- Advertising will become more expensive. Competition in the online marketing world has increased dramatically over the course of the past few years. In 2016, we will see it increase even more. As the basic laws of economics suggest, an increase in demand is often accompanied by an increase in price. These new online marketing competitors will drive the prices for online advertising even higher. Realistically, online ads are pretty cheap, but the increase in price may drive some smaller companies out of the medium.
These seven trends are not the only ones that will peak in 2016, but they could be some of the most significant. There’s no guarantee exactly when, if or how these trends will manifest, as much of that is driven by consumer adoption, but be on the lookout. Technology is moving fast, and consumers are constantly clamoring for more.