Sunday, 20 December 2015

5 Digital Marketing Trends: 2016

It is that time of the year when everyone is busy forecasting the new black. So here I am keeping up with the season.  I am no expert and nothing gives me the right to forecast a subject as complex as digital marketing trends. But as a keen observer, I am hazarding a guess about the shape of things to come in 2016. 

#1: Back to the dominance of a single screen
According to forecasts, India will reach 236 million mobile internet users by 2016. Not a figure comparable with television reach but when it comes to changing behaviour purely on the back of convenience and economics, you know which device will dominate.  

What does it mean for brands
To win, brands will have to invest in 2 things - gain an understanding of the unique features this device has to offer and how the consumers are interacting with their devices.  Basis these, brands  will need to innovate offers which will secure their place in the consideration set. While the same technology is available to everyone, it's the sheer brilliance of creativity that will help winning brands succeed.  

#2 Trend : Vernacularization 
India's next million online are going to be folks whose language of choice is their mother tongue. Their comfort comes from reading and interacting in their own language. Currently internet content in Indian languages account for only 0.1%. If you decode Sundar Pichai's recent talk in Delhi, companies such as Google will push for a lot more of vernacular content online.

What does it mean for brands
Going vernac will no longer be a choice. With the growing popularity of internet among the masses, every form of owned media - social assets, apps or websites will slowly require vernacular content to engage with consumers in their language.  Moreover mass brands will need to focus less on the oh so cool ideas which appeal to South Mumbai and focus on authentic content and conversation which is relatable to the masses in south Bihar.

#3 Trend: Mobile Payments 
When the big boys such as Apple, Google and Samsung all get behind a trend, it is bound to see some hot action. Rumour has it that Microsoft is also dipping its toe in this water. I won't be surprised if millions of smartphones in 2016, especially those made for the mid to low price points, comes integrated with features and apps for mobile commerce.

What does it mean for brands
Once this goes mass, the initial hiccup of merchant acceptance will slowly melt away in the face of consumer benefits that this mode of payment offers. The speed and flexibility of this payment mode will make it the choice of the new generation. Brands will have to take a hard look at their loyalty programmes to cater to the users of these services. Devising mobile coupon loyalty programmes basis location and interests could be a good starting point.

#4: Search
It's no secret that Google is now experimenting with video ads in search results. Additionally, modern search engines are receiving more and more queries from digital assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Google Now. Spoken language queries are hugely different from typed queries. I guess spoken search queries will mean a new type of long-tail keyword queries - stuff that mimics spoken dialogue will emerge.

What does it mean for brands
Key words are passé. Gear up for video ads suited for new age search and brands which still insist on writing pages should perhaps contain more colloquial, conversational content. Don't waste time. Go look for an agency that can handle the new layer to the complexity of search.

#5: Live Mobile Broadcasting 
Language agnostic, easy to use live streaming apps such as Meerkat and Periscope will become the preferred platform of communication not only peer to peer but also with brands. Authenticity of the video based content coupled with the power of nowness (real time content) will help it to get ahead of text heavy mediums.

What does it mean for brands
It's the age of intimacy and no brand can run away from it. Brands that win will leverage the opportunity to showcase their human side by offering consumers the chance to interact with people behind their products, get fast feedback on R&D from real users, live Q&A between decision makers and consumers and a whole host more will perhaps become the order of the day.

So yup, a very exciting time lies ahead of us. We have loads to do. Even if some of these trends don't go mainstream in 2016, they soon will. As with most cases digital, consumers are leaps ahead of brands and we, the people behind the brands, have a lot of catching up to do. Good luck!



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