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Top 10 Marketing Trends For 2015

The combination of a U.S. Presidential election and Summer Olympics are bound to make 2016 a singular and bounteous year for marketers and media. But it won’t be without its challenges—from ad blockers and hackers to health nuts and political zanies.

What else can marketers expect? checks with industry insiders and other experts who uncovered 10 trends to look forward to in the year to come.

Top 10 Marketing Trends For 2015

  1. 1. Slide Show:’s Top 10 Marketing Trends For 2016 The image part with relationship ID rId2 was not found in the file.
  2. 2. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 1. Programmatic 3.0 The first version of automated media buying was a clearance rack for digital inventory that matured to focus on parsing reams of data to target digital media. The newest version extends the practice to traditional media. “With new technologies being introduced constantly, there will be more innovation and, therefore, more opportunity going forward,” said Doug Ray, Carat's U.S. CEO and global president. Time Inc., for example, extended programmatic buying into print in the U.S., while Dentsu Aegis Network began buying ads programmatically from the video-on-demand inventory of U.K. broadcaster Channel 4. Expect the trend to continue in 2016. “There’s still plenty of room for growth, especially with video, mobile, social, and native-like advertising becoming more automated,” said Jamie Fishler, VP of marketing at Magnetic. “Are you kidding me? I’m still explaining the concept to some marketing leaders,” added Paul Gunning, CEO of DDB Chicago. “This capability has decades of room to run. We haven’t even touched TV in any meaningful way.”
  3. 3. The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file. 2. Millennials, You’re Not That Special After years of obsessing over the post-Gen X demographic, researchers are beginning to challenge the conventional wisdom about Millennials. A study from Forrester, for example, found Millennials’ mobile engagement habits are about the same as their parents. Another study, from The Economist Group, challenged the so-called “Millennial Mirage” regarding their attitudes. And Carat’s Ray noted the agency’s study on “The Millennial Disconnect” showed “only 42% of the 85 million U.S. Millennials reflect the stereotypes and generalities discussed by the more than 43,000 articles published in 2015 alone.” Brands will begin to adapt in 2016, especially as the now 30- something Millennials age. “Marketers need to make a good impression, but it’s time to ditch the standard playbook,” said Eric Kneler, executive director, strategy at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing. “It is clear that this audience is apt to a new way of talking about old products.”
  4. 4. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 3. Hello, Gen Z Just as the Millennial obsession settles, marketers have found a younger cohort to fixate on: Generation Z. “Gen Z may be young, but with the new tools at their disposal and their shifting values, they are at the forefront of changing culture,” said Margot Nason, managing editor of Deep Focus’ Cassandra Report. “Businesses should be wooing them now for their dollars and their influence.” Differentiating Gen Z from their Millennial predecessors will be a tough job, but some traits are emerging. “This will be the year we all realize that everything we thought we knew about how teenagers use mobile is completely wrong, as younger folks continue to jump from platform to platform to get away from their parents, trolls, and desperate marketers,” said John Caruso, partner at MCD Partners. “While Gen Z has never encountered life in a ‘smartphoneless’ world, they will be the ones who will start to value interpersonal interactions the most,” added Brandon Murphy, EVP, chief strategy officer, at 22squared. “In response, more brands will have to tailor their communications to resonate in a more targeted manner.”
  5. 5. The image part with relationship ID rId3 was not found in the file. 4. The New Radio? Just as streaming video is considered the new TV and websites the new magazines, podcasts are breathing new life to audio programming. (Even has a podcast show.) The success of programs, such as NPR’s true-crime story “Serial”— the most downloaded podcast on iTunes—and Marc Maron’s “WTF” talk show, show an audio podcast can not only draw loyal audiences but also appeal to sponsors. “I’m not saying we sold out, but we made compromises” to monetize the podcast, Maron said at November’s Ad:Tech New York conference. Gimlet Media, a startup launched by former NPR staffers to create for-profit podcasts, celebrated its first anniversary in 2015, as established media companies, including Slate and Buzzfeed, jumped in. NPR icon Ira Glass even turned up at the Cannes Advertising Festival and Advertising Week New York to crack jokes about running radio spots for MailChimp, a “Serial” sponsor. After the success of “Serial’s” first season, music-streaming service Pandora stepped in to pick up the second season, with the backing of many large advertisers. As more streaming services jump into the fray, expect monetization to follow.
  6. 6. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 5. Publishers Try To Block The Ad Blockers Ad blocking became big news with the release of the new iPhone and its OS upgrade, which allowed for installing ad- blocking software. Web publishers, livid at the possibilities of lost revenue, began striking back. The Washington Post was among the first to demand users switch off ad blockers in order to reach its content, and Yahoo Mail is one of the latest and largest service providers to do the same. “Publishers will emerge from their defensive crouches in 2016 and demonstrate newfound strength in resisting the tide of ad blocking,” said Dave Zinman, COO of programmatic platform RadiumOne. “Expect to see publishers begin to flex their muscles in 2016 and end the free pass that those who install ad blockers are receiving.” But consumers will strike back, too. Users are already embracing a la carte content, including ad-free “freemium” services. The odds don’t look good for the blocker-blockers. “Digital advertising is dead. Ad blocking is here to stay,” TapInfluence’s Cameron said. “The new approach will require meaningful consumer-oriented content.”
  7. 7. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 6. Think Global, Act Local—Please As more marketers deal with the global economy through a focus on “brand DNA,” the battles between headquarters and local marketing teams will become more pitched. Brands need to maintain control of their global messages for governance purposes, but they are faced with challenger brands that take advantage of unique local demands, said Matt Roche, CEO of Extole. Relevance will be more important than ever, added Matthew Wellschlager, VP of marketing at Ceros. “Brands that allow local teams to be truly local in their strategy will win,” he said. It’s in that process that in-house battles will be fought next year. Many global CMOs say local and regional teams are loath to adapt a global brand positioning because they fear reducing their influence. “Success on the global level comes down to agility and control,” said Alicianne Rand, VP of marketing at NewsCred. Marketers have a growing challenge of streamlining their messages to be consistent and relevant globally. In 2016 they will have to leverage technology to create content at scale and collaborate to execute globally, while still giving the local teams ownership of their efforts, she said.
  8. 8. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 7. Talent In The House As brands seek to expand their real-time efforts, they will bring marketing talent in-house and raid agencies to do so. “Agencies will continue to lose great talent as it goes in-house for more money, better control, and an opportunity to work on more meaningful efforts, as more brands are turning to authenticity and defining their company mission to woo top talent,” said Jim Cuene, president of GoKart Labs. But this will not put an end to the talent crisis in 2016. “Winning the talent battles—especially when it comes to Millennials and future generations—will continue to be a true concern,” said Ryan Stoner, strategy director at Publicis Seattle. With the continued focus on data-driven marketing, many industry observers said agencies and marketers may be dropping the ball on the care and feeding of creative staff, which could set the stage for the next crisis. “We’ve seen the emergence of a new data-driven CMO, and it has me worried that the CMO of tomorrow will be focused only on the data, not the storytelling,” said Ben Plomion, SVP of marketing at GumGum.
  9. 9. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 8. Brands In The Flesh The comeback of brick and mortar is an evergreen trend. But while consumers won’t stop shopping online, experience marketing “in the real world” will take on added priority in 2016—often thanks to an assist from mobile and digital devices. Immersive, sensory user experiences will be a brand differentiator next year. Indeed, “multisensory brands” will be part of the developments for 2016, according to Landor Associates. Landor’s 2016 forecast also predicts that brands will place more emphasis on training employees to be brand ambassadors and will continue turning packaging into part of the brand story. “2016 will be the year of customer experience, but only because marketing, merchandising, and operations will finally come together to provide a contiguous experience to all customers,” added Matt Roche, CEO of Extole. Additionally, the growth of affordable virtual-reality devices will add a high-tech spin to the experience, bringing car test-drives and hotel and real-estate property tours into consumers’ homes. “VR is to video what video was to images. It’s immersive and highly engaging,” said Jordan Gray, Organic’s manager of creative labs.
  10. 10. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 9. Health Kick Expect more brands to work health into their brand positioning in 2016. “Americans will increasingly embrace a combination of analog and digital strategies in their quest for health and well- being,” said Liz Aviles, VP of marketing intelligence at Upshot. The combination of new wearable technologies and attitudes is putting health and fitness at the forefront of marketing. Industry observers note food is quickly becoming a mode of self- expression for consumers, and “organic,” “natural,” and “sustainable” labels are increasingly becoming table stakes for all kinds of products. It’s a way to humanize a brand, 22squared’s Murphy said: “We’ve already seen it with Nestle taking artificial ingredients out of their products, CVS banning cigarettes, etc. Marketers are discovering that this is a powerful way to win over Millennials, instead of surface-level marketing stunts.” “Every brand will need to find a marketing solution to align with and support the concept of wellness, body mind, and soul,” Cassandra’s Nason added.
  11. 11. The image part with relationship ID rId4 was not found in the file. 10. How Much For My Data? The tug of war over data and privacy is another evergreen trend. But ad blockers and the Internet of Things will give it additional fuel in 2016, and consumers may get the upper hand. The walled gardens of data will start to show some cracks, said Dave Zinman, COO of RadiumOne. Platforms such as Google, Facebook, and AOL spent 2015 consolidating and attempting to leverage proprietary consumer data to differentiate their advertising offerings, he explained. But that strategy will prove to be flawed in 2016. “The number of IoT devices will dwarf that of smartphones and computers. Good luck building a walled garden when the rest of the world is flowering with insightful consumer data,” Zinman said. The insight might get blunted still if consumers continue to adopt ad blockers. Marketers may have to step up their game, perhaps offering rewards that go beyond a better user experience. “We’ll see new systems in place that put people in control of their own personal information,” said Rye Clifton, experience director at GSD&M. “Imagine trading demographics for discounts: The more you share, the more you save.”