8 Digital Trends for 2016

Goodbye 2015, you were fun and you were interesting, but my god you went quickly. Hello 2016.

Year on year, it always amazes me at how rapidly ‘digital’ evolves and changes. From ad targeting capabilities to wearable tech, from memes to ever new social fads, from the right hand swipe to 360 video – it’s an exciting and interesting time to be working in digital.

Below are a eight digital trends that I predict, expect or simply just want to speculate about for 2016.

#1 Digital Advertising Ecosystem – Walled Gardens & Micro Targeting

With the rise of ad-blocking technology, publishers want/need more control of their inventory and advertisers need to find new innovative and creative ways to counter ad blocking technology and actually add value to the consumers to be displayed on their news feeds.

  • Ad blocking technology is apparently up 44% YoY and has been largely driven by younger people. Compound this with Apple’s IOS now blocking ads, ad blocking plugins for all major browsers, and many other tools, it’s only a matter of time until the older generations and many others follow suit. Mass ‘brand’ display advertising is dead, or put another way – any digital marketer worth their salt will seek other methods of advertising.
  • Brands will turn to micro targeting that is target significantly smaller targets to ensure relevancy and value add in their messaging in order to gain the genuine interest and permission of the audience.

#2 – Evolution of Search

Search is evolving, rapidly.

  • Mobile searches now outnumber desktop
  • Mobile searches mean more voice, visual and location based searches
  • Huge rise in personal assistant apps and services which anticipate our wants and needs such as Google Now, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana. These are game changers and the non Google services certainly will threaten Google’s position as king of search, especially as the likes of Facebook, Bing and many others start to get behind this too, which could completely shift the way we browse the web.

#3 – Sentiment

From emoji’s, to a simple thumbs up or like on Facebook, to a user or computer determined conclusion of specific copy – I have always thought of sentiment in marketing terms as always being a little superficial, and/or inaccurate. But then I look at the investment of big brands into sentiment and it got me thinking.

  • Facebook testing ‘reactions panel’ giving users six options to show their sentiment towards a post/comment. This will take community management, brand control and sentiment analysis to another level if this becomes mainstream.
  • Emoji’s can be searched for on Instagram posts
  • Ad targeting based upon sentiment will be available

#4 – Video & Virtual Reality

2016 will be the year of immersive experiences, achieved largely through the evolution of video capabilities.

  • Imminent launch of Oculus Rift and rise of other virtual reality technologies such as Google Cardboard
  • Facebook and YouTube now offering 360 videos
  • Continued rise of ‘point-of’view’ video footage – think GoPro

#5 – Dynamic Pricing

Ever been in your city CBD at night time when it’s raining and you can’t get a cab – you go onto Uber only to find the pricing is variable, i.e they are asking you to pay 1.8 times the standard rate. Well that’s good old supply and demand pricing – the more demand the higher the price. Expect to see more of that this year as more services and retailers integrate with real-time data.

  •  Retailers and other services using innovative methods of dynamic pricing

#6 – Facebook bored, more niche social networks

I know that Facebook has (well) over 1 billion users, I know that the users use it a lot, I know that urge to check it five minutes after you have just checked it, and I am a little fed up of always seeing baby pictures….I am also a culprit of that too. I speculate that many people are a little over Facebook, they don’t want to stop using it god forbid but there is an overwhelming awareness that Facebook is becoming an addiction, kind of on par with having a glass of wine every night when you finish work and you know you shouldn’t. You still want to taste that shiraz but maybe just cut down on it a little.

  • More friends will delete their accounts or seriously cut back on using it
  • More niche social networks will launch

#7 – Quantifiable self, or put another way the ‘Internet of Healthy Things’

Quantifiable self is not a new thing of 2016, but it’s certainly well and truly moved from that early adopters phase to more of a golden era! Wearable tech is going gang busters. Technology is evolving rapidly giving greater and greater insights and peer bench-marking capabilities. As the costs seem to decline, the quality and accuracy of the tech seems to increase. Supporting apps and convergence of fitness services are ultimately going to benefit the consumer.

#8 – The death of the password

Let’s face it, more and more people are going to get hacked, passwords just don’t seem to do their job very effectively anymore. You just need to do a quick internet search and read about the breaches at eBay (145 million users), Adobe (36 million users), JP Morgan Chase (76 million users) and many others, passwords are frequently the target. Yes for politically motivated reasons but also for sport too.

  • Hacking will increase
  • Biometric security will rise
  • Multi-factor authentication and alternative methods of security will start to replace the password as we know it

There are tons more trends that I wanted to write about such as the rise of drones, self-driving cars etc but the above is enough to think about for now!

Happy 2016 and I would love to hear of any digital trends that you are excited about for this year.


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