Top 10 industry highlights of 2015

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As we step into 2016, ClickZ presents the most important news in digital marketing over the past year, such as Periscope’s debut and Google’s “Mobilegeddon.”

Looking back, 2015 was an exciting time to be in the digital marketing industry, with so many technology advances and product updates, as well as mergers and acquisitions. While we are looking ahead, don’t forget what we have achieved over the last year.

Below, find ClickZ‘s top 10 industry highlights of 2015 (mostly) listed in chronological order.

1. Twitter debuts Periscope

Twitter introduced Periscope on the iPhone in March. The live-streaming app allows brands and agencies to be more interactive with their audience because viewers can comment in real time, or tap their screens to send colorful hearts to the broadcaster. Since Periscope is integrated with Twitter, new users have a ready-made audience.

As more and more brands, such as General Electric and Dunkin’ Donuts, experiment with Periscope in their marketing strategies, many predict that Periscope is going to be the next big thing in social media.

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2. “Mobilegeddon” officially arrives

Search marketers had been talking about “Mobilegeddon” since Google decided to consider mobile-friendliness and indexed apps as ranking factors back in February. On April 21, “Mobilegeddon” officially arrived.

Brands of all sizes without mobile-friendly sites were hit hard by this update. Companies were pushed to redesign and optimize their sites for mobile devices, becoming “Google-ready.”

3. Snapchat unveils its content marketing agency Truffle Pig

At the Cannes Lions in June, Snapchat partnered with WPP Group and theDaily Mail to establish a content marketing company called Truffle Pig, in response to the demand of online content.

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Truffle Pig drew much attention over the summer because it was a collaboration between social media, marketing and content. In his interview with ClickZ, Alexander Jutkowitz, chief executive(CEO) of Truffle Pig, said that the agency would maximize the potential of Snapchat, WPP and the Daily Mail. And a major factor in its offerings would be a mobile-first strategy for vertical video, according to Jutkowitz.

4. Verizon finalizes its purchase of AOL

In May, telecommunications giant Verizon agreed to buy AOL for $4.4 billion in cash and finalized the purchase a month later.

Under the agreement, the two companies outlined plans to support their new mobile-first focus with programmatic ads. For example, the partnership would bring together more than 200 hours of exclusive programming and the new video content would be supported by advanced programmatic technology that AOL developed for selling and buying ads.

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5. The IAB sets HTML5 as the new industry standard

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) updated its display creative guidelines in August, urging the industry to migrate from Flash to HTML5 technology. The new guidelines reflected the changing nature of technology and were designed to help advertisers deliver more immersive digital ad creative, according to the IAB.

Less than a month after the announcement, Amazon decided to stop accepting Flash ads on its website or advertising platform.

6. Instagram opens its API to all advertisers

Instagram switched on its application programming interface (API) in August, a major move because it helps Instagram transform into a mobile advertising business that can compete with Google and Twitter.

By opening up its API, Instagram let advertisers, for the first time, plan and purchase ads on the platform in a more automated fashion. Earlier this year, the photo-sharing platform also added “Shop Now” buttons for advertisers to link outside the all and debuted carousel ads, which allow advertisers to serve more images in a single ad.

7. Google reorganizes

Google co-founder Larry Page explained in a blog post that the company would be reorganizing as Alphabet, a collection of companies across industry verticals. The new structure will help Alphabet keep focus on opportunities outside of Google, the largest company under the Alphabet umbrella, according to Page.

While some don’t think the reorganization helps solve Google’s core problem of scaling its search advertising business, some believe that Alphabet will result in stronger branding.

In September, Google also designed a new logo to differentiate its core search business from Alphabet’s more ambitious initiatives.

8. Twitter removes share counts

Alas! Twitter switched off the number of shares from its buttons, which the company explained with three reasons. One of them is that Twitter will have to pay high server costs and invest in significant engineering resources in order to keep share counts.

However, many don’t understand why technology powerhouses like Twitter cannot figure out how to provide share counts for publishers who want this piece of information. If you want to bring your share counts back, you can either pay for Gnip, Twitter’s enterprise API platform, or use third-party analytics tools.

9. Alibaba turns Singles’ Day into a huge e-commerce opportunity

Alibaba, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon, raked in $5 billion during the first 90 minutes of its sale on November 11, a date known as Singles’ Day in the region.  This annual shopping festival totaled $14.3 billion in just 24 hours, mainly through Alibaba’s online shopping platforms, Taobao and Tmall.

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The company’s big success on Singles’ Day was driven by a savvy omnichannel strategy, as well as advanced payment and logistics offerings, demonstrating a few marketing approaches that Alibaba’s Western peers can learn from.

10. ClickZ was acquired by Blenheim Chalcot.

The above changes definitely had a great impact on the digital marketing industry in 2015. On a more personal note (and at a smaller scale), ClickZ and our sister brands – Search Engine Watch (SEW) and ClickZ Live – were acquired by U.K.-based digital media group Blenheim Chalcot in April.

By collaborating with Blenheim Chalcot’s well-established teams across the U.S., U.K. and Hong Kong, we are able to serve better content that caters to our global audience. In 2016, we are looking to become one of the most authoritative sources on digital marketing, so this is one industry highlight that you should look out for.

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Anything else to add to the above list? Let us know in the comments below.

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