4 Marketing Trends to Watch for in 2016

It’s the summer of 2015, which means that instead of going on camping trips with the family, it’s time to contemplate the big marketing developments that we’ll see in 2016.

Don’t get me wrong; this was a big year for commerce and marketing. P2P payment darling Venmo has continued to gain popularity while social media giant Facebook has launched a buy button specifically for Shopify merchants. But while the year in the rear-view always has some kind of nostalgia built into it, the real question that consumers and marketers alike want to know is, what will next year look like? While I don’t have a crystal ball on hand, I do believe that the following  four items will have a major impact:

1. Oculus Rift: An In-Your-Face Marketing Experience

With the Oculus Rift gearing up to ship out a consumer-ready product in Q1 of 2016, it’s probably too much to assume that there will be a whole lot of marketing capabilities available to the platform right off the bat. That said, as the product scales and we see higher rates of user adoption, Oculus will inevitably have a huge impact on the way that marketers engage consumers.

For starters, one of the biggest keys to marketing to Millennials is personalization. With the ability to literally tell 360-degree stories, companies will be able to leverage the Oculus’ main demographic like never before. At the beginning of this year, Adweek reported that Elle Magazine planned to live stream a fashion show using Oculus Rift. “It’s going into environments that the consumer heretofore never had access,” says Kevin O’Malley, senior vice president and publisher of Elle. “That could be a tiki hut jutting over gentle waters in Polynesia, or it could be front row at a fashion show that they normally only see on TV, where they can see the celebrities who are there. It’s quite another thing to be front row and when you turn to your left, you are sitting next to celebrity X, Y or Z.”

On the commerce side of things, what does Oculus mean for the way people buy? As people come to expect full immersion out of the marketing campaigns that they engage with, companies who don’t supply a virtual experience for prospective customers, such as retailers, could see a drop in sales. We’ll see how far VR takes us in 2016. Adoption could be fast or slow, but we’ll see some kind of shift in marketing ideology.

2. Snapchat Will Become a Standard Marketing Platform

Just like Facebook and Twitter before it, Snapchat has faced the question, “Is this really a place where we can reach our target consumers?” And just as with the other social giants, marketers will come to understand that Snapchat isn’t just a tool for some fun “marketing experiments.” It’s a platform that users are flocking to, in order to digest social media in real-time.

‘Real-time’ is the key phrase in that last sentence. Since the inception of social media marketing, brands and agencies have been searching for the best methods to deliver integrated campaigns that make constituents feel connected and an important key to keeping the younger generation of consumers (read: Millennials) interested is by offering exclusive content that has an expiration date. As we all know, there’s no longer room for “one size fits all” marketing tactics. Snapchat is the ultimate platform for making consumers feel connected and at the same time, unique.

In fact, with the 2016 presidential candidates turning to Snapchat in order to connect with voters, the writing on the wall should be clear enough for marketers to see. As far as what to expect in 2016, look no further than the beginning of 2015, when Snapchat launched Discover, a portal that brands such as ESPN, Vice, and Comedy Central use to push their messages to voracious consumers of media. The results have been positive thus far, but the real beauty behind Snapchat is that it turns the advertisement into the product, something that brands won’t be able to ignore.

3. Search Branches Out Past Search Engines

With Facebook already working on tests for its own search engine, it seems inevitable that search capabilities will go far beyond Google, Bing, and Yahoo (or Baidu, if you live in China). One obvious marketing boon that will come with stronger search capabilities within social media is that the visibility of brands will get an automatic boost. Couple this with the fact that buy buttons and payment messaging will become social staples in 2016, and what you’re left with is an all-in-one type of platform.

With advanced search capabilities, integrated payment methods, and the social impetus that empowers sites like Facebook and Twitter, consumers will be able to make purchases, chat with their friends about what they bought, and post the social proof of their new purchase. And they can do all of this without having to Google the e-commerce site they want to buy from. With advanced search will come a more integrated social experience that expands to commerce.

4. IoT User Adoption and Data

According to a CMO article by Adobe, wearable technology will see a user adoption rate of 28 percent by 2016. That means there’s going to be a whole lot more data for marketers to mine. Businesses and brands already rely on the intuitiveness and effectiveness of Facebook and Google ads, which are able to target customers by their actions on the Internet. But what if ads will soon have the ability target people by their day-to-day habits?

With the Internet of Things coming on like a slow train – rather, a slow train that’s moving faster than most people actually realize – it’s only a matter of time before big data sources get substantially bigger. Will we see the first advertisements native to wearable technology in 2016? And if we do, how will it affect the way that regular consumers make their way through a typical buying cycle? One thing is for sure: every year from now until the foreseeable future, we’ll see the IoT become a bigger tool that marketers can use to engage with customers.

Homepage image via Shutterstock

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