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10 Marketing Trends To Watch Through The End Of 2016

Overall, 2016 is shaping up to be a strong year for marketing. From artificial intelligence to nonverbal communication, here are some trends to watch during the next six months.

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10 Marketing Trends To Watch Through The End Of 2016

  1. 1. 10 Trends To Watch Through The End Of 2016
  2. 2. The 1. Vote TV Traditional media will get a boost from political spending during this U.S. election season. Pundits predict a $5 billion presidential race—double 2012’s total—and state and local candidates are girding for massive spending, anticipating the side effects of a contentious Clinton-vs.- Trump campaign. The result could be tight inventories of national and local TV time, especially in the battleground states. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) has already predicted the possibility of an “ad squeeze” as the party conventions adjourn just in time for the Olympic Games to kick off and take up inventories. The rising use of programmatic buying for political ads will help ease the crunch, though political advertising remains TV-centric, especially in local spot markets. Expect tight inventories and hefty price tags for prime time until November.
  3. 3. The image 2. Marketers And Agencies At Odds Cracks in the marketer-agency relationship became obvious this spring, after the ANA released a controversial K2 study highly critical of transparency in agency media-buying practices. The industry group pointed to a “fundamental disconnect,” citing rebates from publishers were pervasive, with markups often mandated by senior agency executives. The K2 study appears to have driven a wedge between the ANA and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), which in January released its own set of transparency guidelines. “This does nothing to foster a productive conversation or to move our industry forward,” the 4A’s stated in response to the K2 study. The two groups have been trying to find common cause in fighting off the separate issue of ad fraud, estimated to be a $7.2 billion annual drain on media budgets. Future meetings could now be tense.
  4. 4. The image Last year we predicted publishers would strike back against ad blockers, but the level of ad-blocking adoption has shocked even the pessimists. Blocking exploded by 90% in 2015, a May report from PageFair revealed, and was even more pervasive on mobile, where twice as many users block ads than on desktops. One in four mobile users have ad blockers. Media and creative executives acknowledge that the industry will have to stop fighting and adapt to the new normal of ad blockers. Relevant, value-added messages should help. “It’s the culmination of years of technology that cuts out the crap and gives consumers the content that they want,” said Jason Jercinovic, global head of marketing innovation and global brand director of Havas Worldwide. “Very soon everyone will have ad blocking built in, and that’s a benefit. Look at Snapchat—they’ve done a good job; the ads are really entertaining.” 3. Ad Blocking Goes Mobile
  5. 5. All recent Olympics have opened in the wake of controversy, but the Rio Games face more than its share, including a potential ban on Russian athletes for doping, a Zika virus outbreak that made officials ponder postponing the event, and an unsteady political situation in Brazil (including a presidential impeachment). Sponsorship contracts, however, have been in place for years. NBC expects to top the $1.3 billion in ad sales it racked up in the London Olympics in 2012. At these rates, marketers will be approaching these games with extra care. “The well-documented issues going on at the moment will definitely mean CMOs will be taking a hard look at messaging and timing to ensure not to fall foul of any minefields,” said Dominic Curran, CEO of sports marketing agency Synergy U.S. The image 4. Olympic-Sized Trouble
  6. 6. In the decades since China's market opened to the West, brands have rushed in, but this year’s market correction has given them a moment to stop and consider China as more than a new frontier but as a complex market. So, as the Chinese economy continues to grow at a clip faster than in the U.S. or Europe, brands are introducing a new subtlety in their segmentation. Landor recently published a report calling for a “profound rethink” of the market, pointing out changing attitudes among Chinese Millennials, a new mindset among Chinese women, and a sharp divide between villages and cities. Zenith Optimedia reported the Chinese media market is maturing, too, with the rise of paid content and a more sophisticated outlook on gauging digital engagement. While Chinese brands, such as Huawei, Tencent, and Alibaba, look globally, it’s not enough to merely launch a brand in China in 2016.Indeed, the days of easy growth are over. The image 5. Digging (In)To China
  7. 7. At the Digital Content NewFrontsthis spring, the word “partnership” came up repeatedly. While the digital platforms have emulated TV networks in the past— creating shows and selling ads—platforms are moving closer to the “content lab” model, partnering with sponsors early in the production process. For example, at Cannes, Yahoo launched the Storytellers content studio, with brands including Dasani and JetBlue. Largely responsible for the shift: Ad blocking and skipping has made preroll and in-stream spots less viable. Meanwhile, content creators are accepting their new role, despite wariness about “selling out.” Documentarian Morgan Spurlock was remarkably sanguine at the NewFronts, saying that marketers and creators are willing to play ball now. Dan Harmon, creator of the NBC show “Community,” commented that creatives need to break out of the noncommercial pose because “we’re as much part of this weird culture … We’re not punk rock.” The image 6. Howdy, (Content) Partner
  8. 8. Social networks have centered on branding messages, but in 2016 their focus shifted to becoming established conduits for news. Twitter lifted its 140-character limit, and Facebook shuttered its Notify app to integrate it into apps and make life easier for publishers. The platforms are following the audience: A survey from Reuters Institute shows half the public gets news from their social feeds; for 12%, it’s the main news source, and that’s even more evident among 18- to 24-year-olds. Social-friendly publishers have acknowledged the shift and are partnering with marketers to produce branded content made to be shared. According to founder Jonah Peretti, 75% of BuzzFeed’s content is consumed via social sharing. As the social platforms lean into their role as publishers—and the recent acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft opens new possibilities—expect to see more publishers experiment with chatbots and other ways to push content and sponsored messages via social. The image 7. Social ‘Likes’ News
  9. 9. It’s not all self-driving cars and smart homes. After years of circling around the use of natural language processing, automatic speech recognition, and contextual messaging, marketers are leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) far more extensively this year. The spring launch of Facebook’s bot store for Messenger means that any business can afford its own chatbot to engage customers—a simple, everyday use of AI. Observers see this as a mere toe in the water when it comes to adding machine learning to all aspects of the marketing ecosystem. “There’s no question AI has arrived, and it’s growing in use in marketing,” said Trevor O’Brien, CTO at Deutsch NY. “I fully expect AI to be a disruptor to not only our client business but also for agencies—everything from sites that build themselves and get better over time to self-learning ad systems. It’s going to be fun.” The image 8. Artificial Intelligence, Naturally
  10. 10. One immediate use of AI in 2016 will be digital assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, IBM’s Watson, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Assistant. Marketers will be injecting voice-activated response into retail and messaging, while also looking into a future where younger generations will have grown up talking to devices, appliances, and cars. “Tried-and-true marketing concepts, like SEO, PPC, and location-based marketing, now need to fit into voice- only environments,” said Jonathan Adams, chief digital officer at WPP agency Maxus. “All five brands have infiltrated, or soon will, the smart home and in-dash car [telematics] industries, so get ready for a device war.” It’s too soon to tell how this competition will affect the market, but “the second half of 2016 will be a powerful one for voice,” said Greg Hedges, director of strategy at digital agency Rain. “We’re just scratching the surface of where voice can and will go.” The image 9. Digital Assistants Speak Up
  11. 11. If talking to a digital assistant is too much effort, marketers are working on ways to avoid words entirely. With younger generations communicating more often via text and images, emojis are evolving as the new mode of communication for brands. A survey from SocialBakers, for example, found by the end of 2015 the number of brands using emojis grew 46% on Facebook and 32% on Twitter. The trend continues. Cases in point: After Domino’s won awards for its pizza- ordering emoji program, other marketers, including Dove, Comedy Central, and Coke, followed. Now a number of brands are incorporating the visuals into their traditional campaigns. Pepsi recently launched a global summer brand campaign using a library of emojis and hundreds of wordless, five-second TV spots. Expect to see more marketers leverage these images, especially in their mobile-based efforts. What was disruptive last year is becoming mainstream in 2016. The image 10. Words Fail Us J