4 Major Trends To Watch in 2016

Hipster Philip, always on the lookout for the next trend.

There are four major trends for marketing and communications that will change how digital marketers engage with consumers in 2016. MarCom pros need to be familiar with these trends and figure out how they will be implemented for their clients and campaigns this year.

It is estimated that in 2020 fifty billion devices will be connected to the Internet. If we look closer at these numbers we see that over half of our homes will be connected and fifty seven percent of people in the world will be connected. In many peoples' minds, this raises fear. These connected devices are not only "smart" but many of them are also learning devices. Personal assistants like as Siri, Cortana and Google Now will be integrated across entire platforms and will follow you from device to device and location to location. Not only we will become reliant on them, but they will learn about us from our habits, tastes, etc. We are already seeing in platforms like Google Now and devices like the Nest thermostat. 

Make no mistake, we will be seeing radical changes in the way we live and communicate between ourselves and our smart devices. ...and yes, in a few years you will talk to the fridge and won't even realize how ridiculous that is.

In the future the interaction of an Internet-connected device will be not an option, it will be the norm.

Additionally, we will stop differentiating between offline and online, digital to analog.  In our future digital world and in everything related to communication and marketing, 4 major trends will change how consumers live their daily lives. We will see that brands will find new and exciting ways to connect with consumers with great results.

Digital Marketing Trends

Virtual Reality

While VR is by no means new, the general public will remember 2016 as the year when Samsung, Sony, HTC, Microsoft and Oculus launched their virtual reality platforms to the public. Virtual Reality will open new frontiers in personal development and take the average user's experience to a place they've never been before. The total immersion of the VR experience causes a complete change in the way we consume content, how we learn, and communicate. Entertainment and advertising will never be the same.

Examples:

Land Rover brings new Discovery Sport to life with Augmented Reality. 


The World Economic Forum with the documentary empathize with refugees.


Others: Guided Meditation with its application to bring meditation to another level and NFL, in the world of sport, in summer camps in training

We are facing a revolution that will change the landscape for digital marketing and communications for years. What do you think: will VR be a channel for you / your clients to effectively connect with the consumer?

Real-Time / Short Engagements

From blogs to Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to Snapchat and Periscope. Real-time communication and experiences will be owned and controlled by the protagonists in 2016.

I'm not talking about just any kind of experience. I'm talking about experiences that capture the full attention of the user and force him to participate. Captive engagements. Immersive engagements. Engagements that have an impact on the consumer. We have gone from interactive advertising to Earth Hour, live concerts that only work if you have the lights off. Today, one of the biggest problems for marketers is a clear lack of attention by consumers. More than just a lack of attention, I'd go as far as to say in some areas we can see open rebellion by consumers. More than ever there is a need to create content that really connects with a meaningful impact.

Examples:

Tidal and Usher with his video "Do not Look Away" - By using facial recognition, the user can not move their eyes from the screen without the video / audio stopping.

Multichannel vs Targeted Channels

For the most part, digital marketers continue working on their multichannel online strategies striving to be on all channels all the time. As part of this effort, we have had to find ways to become efficient with our day-to-day tasks. So we start posting similar or the same content on all social networks. I'm pointing at myself along with others. 

What are we missing? We are spreading ourselves too thin and we're not taking advantage of the inherent strengths of each network. We should be producing content that is targeted specifically at each of these channels. We're maturing as digital marketers. Because of our experience we will see a big trend whereby relevant brands will stop being focused on trying to be all things to all consumers on all platforms. They will find the channels where they have natural synergies with the platform they are focused on and the users of those platforms. 

Brands will also be willing to test new social media platforms. You'll find them in unexpected places, especially where their presence brings value. In order to contract themselves in relation to their competition brands will have to explore new forms of communication rather than continuing to post the same drab content on facebook. Seriously, are you still putting most of your energy and resources into facebook? You might as well be posting to Geocities or MySpace. 

Examples:

Levis on Instagram: Due to its popularity with the younger generation, Levi's turned to Instagram to boost its appeal. This case study shows how the jeans brand reached 7.4 million people in the U.S. across a nine-day period, targeting people aged 18-34. 

Audi on Snapchat: Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest advertising day of the year, so how could a car brand stand out from the pack? In 2014, Audi sent followers funny Snapchat pictures relevant to the game in real time. The campaign generated millions of earned impressions and introduced Audi to a new generation of consumers.

A.I. / Machine-Learning 

Artificial Intelligence makes us better... until the robots kill us and eat our brains. Until then though, we will make better decisions, get better information more quickly, get to where we're going faster and won't get all tired having to use our own brains. I'm only half kidding about that. I think. Hang on, let me ask Siri what I think about all this.

Siri says I like it and it's all very positive for mankind.

Technological evolution is unstoppable. With the exponential technological improvement we are experiencing, it is quite difficult, if not impossible, to predict where we will be with machine learning and A.I. in a few years. 60% of CXOs believed that their business is not ready to deliver on consumer demand for individually-tailored experiences. 95% said that they will be investing in cognitive solutions over the next five years.

Examples:

Airbnb and "Price-Tips”: Machine-Learning helping homeowners to secure the best price for their property.

CogniToys: A startup of toys for children that answers your questions using the language and appropriate responses to their age powered by Watson, the IBM supercomputer.

Regardless of the name of the trend, what is clear is that the complexity of the market and consumers is such that the most important and relevant brands tomorrow will have to work even harder to create memorable experiences which surprise and delight consumers. This will not be accomplished with traditional advertising and marketing strategies - thank goodness.

Tomorrow's leading brands must not only be relevant and bring value but must get out of their comfort zone and constantly experiment with new formulas, new formats and new social channels. 

How far are you/your clients willing to go to be relevant in 2016? Let me know in the comments.

This article has been cross posted at Geek Beat.

giovanni gallucci

Dallas, Texas, USA