How Digital Marketing Will Change in 2016: What Marketers Need to Know Now

by: Navjot Singh on 15 April 2016

"By taking control of their customer data and identity, brand marketers will be in a better position to control their fate, creating transformational value and sustainable competitive advantage."

While marketers are awash in toolsets and platforms, finding and knowing your true customer is more challenging than it’s ever been. Technology continues to advance, but marketers are increasingly trying to refocus on what counts: people.

By taking control of their customer data and identity, brand marketers will be in a better position to control their fate, creating transformational value and sustainable competitive advantage.

Marketing data expert Signal has put together a series of predictions and insights on the shifts that will really matter for marketers in 2016:

·         Improved people-based marketing options will give advertisers flexibility and control.  In 2016, marketers will feel increased pressure to solve challenges like getting a clear view of the customer across disparate data sources, connecting the past to a customer's intent, and demonstrating attribution and ROI. Brands will demand better people-based marketing options to tie their campaigns to real people rather than cookies or devices. 

·         Advertisers will seek more efficiency through more precise targeting. As marketers squeeze the last drop of workflow efficiency out of programmatic advertising, they’ll look to optimise strategies to improve targeting efficiency in 2016. This means reducing wasted ad spend on reaching unknown audiences, and turning to the power of first-party data to fuel better customer experiences, precision targeting, and ultimately greater ROI.

·         Marketers raise technology standards to close the mobile gap. By the beginning of 2016, mobile ad spending in the US will reach $42 billion, accounting for two-thirds of all digital ad spending. But, marketers still struggle to connect with their customers on all devices due to cookie-based technologies that don’t work well in mobile environments. In the next year, expect to see marketers explore new and different technology solutions designed to work in mobile so they can keep up with increasingly connected customers.

·         The limitations of walled gardens will continue to force advertisers and publishers to make tough choices. Advertisers and publishers have realised the limitations of walled gardens in the form of a limited view of the customer journey and decreasing CPMs. 2016 is the year they will both start thinking about ways to achieve their marketing and business goals outside of those walls, which may take some cooperative data efforts.

·         With ad blocking as the new normal, a new advertising approach becomes essential. Ad blocking could cost publishers as much as $41.4 billion in 2016. The entire ecosystem will get serious about addressing this issue, leading publishers to seek to know more about their customers and get smart about their data-driven offerings, and leading advertisers to push for better creative and higher standards among themselves and their vendor partners.

·         The race for data will drive bigger and bigger acquisitions. In 2016, Internet giants – Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, Verizon, and Twitter – fuelled by the race for data, will continue to expand through acquisition. In response, advertisers will continue to look for walled garden alternatives as this consolidation reduces their choices, buying power, and visibility into their own customer’s journey.

·         The realisation of first-party data will create demand for data-driven leaders. The first-party data revolution is in full swing, but along with the increased use of big data across organisations comes an increase in data-related business challenges. In 2016, a new breed of data-driven leaders will emerge to help businesses leverage data to drive more value across the enterprise and mitigate hurdles such as silos and fragmented governance strategies.

·         Coalition loyalty programs will open doors to more valuable second-party data. In the upcoming year, more brands will come together to build pools of customer data and rewards through coalition loyalty programs. A new model will emerge of several different brands organised under one loyalty program, giving consumers the opportunity to earn points and redeem rewards in more places, and marketers more visibility into high-value first-party data.