Two decades of innovation and disruption have built a world where it no longer makes sense to distinguish between digital and traditional forms of marketing.
The future isn’t jet packs and SoLoMo (remember that one?), it’s traditional ideas brought to life with new tools and traditional channels reinvigorated by new ideas. This new, omnichannel world is reminiscent of marketing’s past, but with some critical updates. 2016 will be a year of maturation, with traditional and disruptive ideas blending into a unified, cohesive whole.
Agency Relationships Will Be Based On Return On Ad Spend
It’s no accident that 2015 was the year of the media review. By May, brands across all categories had put up more than $17 billion in media business for review. But it’s not about shifting business from one agency to another; these reviews were part of a paradigm shift as large marketers rethink the cost and value of agencies and the mix of media in what is a very different marketing landscape than even three or four years ago.
For the past 100 years, advertising has been about the cost of media placements. We spoke the language of CPMs, which defined a proxy for the value of a media property’s audience.
But because of big data and the march toward better attribution tools, that conversation is shifting to performance. In the past, we as marketers bought as much audience as we could and accepted waste as the cost of doing business because the thinking was that with enough reach and frequency, the needle would move.
Today, moving the needle is a much more precise proposition. There are more explicit ways, based on digital activity and an ability to match the delivery of ads with consumer actions.
Traditional Companies Will Buy Innovative Startups
With tech consuming every sector and every company and more than $1.7 trillion in cash reportedly sitting in corporate coffers, 2016 will be the year traditional companies go shopping for disruption.
Take the example of Under Armour, the maker of fitness apparel. If you judged the company solely by its acquisition strategy, consisting of technology platforms like MapMyRun and Endomondo (personal trainer apps), MyFitnessPal (a food tracker app), and Gritness (a fitness schedule management app), you would think it was a software company. In fact, Under Armour is one example of a larger post-tech reality, where the ubiquity of technology in our society means that all companies are declaring themselves tech companies.
Of course, tech gets crowded quickly. Consider the surge of alternatives to paying with cash or a credit card. Stores now have a variety of ways to take payments, from Apple Pay and Android Pay to Square, Stripe, and LevelUp.
Large companies could, of course, build their own solutions, but nimble startups are moving faster and changing the rules constantly. Someone will buy Stripe or maybe Square. The question is whether it will be Visa, American Express, or one of their big banking partners like Bank of America or Wells Fargo.
Digital Marketers Will Sign Up For Classes On Traditional Marketing
Good marketers are always learning. As consumers shifted more time and attention online, digital marketers taught traditional marketers about the power of search, email, social, and mobile.
But with digital now making its way into every aspect of today’s marketing spend and with a greater emphasis on omnichannel consumers, digital marketers are the ones that have to head back to school to understand the discipline of marketing. They have to learn how you mix performance--the domain of digital--with brand-oriented marketing to drive both sales and brand health.
TV And Mail Will Drive The 2016 Election
Digital played a key role in the last two election cycles. But the story in 2016 will be about how the campaigns apply digital tools to the channels that traditionally drive elections--TV and mail.
Campaigns that leverage the twin trends of cord cutting and the rise of programmatic TV will lower their cost of media while simultaneously making their television ads more addressable. Meanwhile, campaigns will leverage mail’s superior response rates by applying the same digital tools retailers have pioneered in revitalizing the catalog.
Direct mail will bring the 2016 election to the kitchen table in a more targeted, customized way than ever before, and those conversations will happen on a daily basis because they’ll be driven by the campaign’s Web analytics.
Marketing That Is Not Personalized Will Be Irrelevant
Marketers have understood the importance personalization for some time. That trend will continue in 2016, but execution will improve, and with it, consumer expectations will rise.
In 2015, Southwest sent frequent fliers customized birthday messages that included a choice of four musical genres performing “Happy Birthday.” Pretty cool, but not really personal, just timely.
To make it more personal next year, the company will identify people who have birthdays during a week they are traveling and offer them early boarding or a special announcement aboard the plane, thanking them for spending time around their special day on a Southwest flight. Consumers that appreciate these special perks will develop new levels of brand loyalty and begin to ignore marketers that don’t seem to make the effort.
Lately, every year has been a year of change for marketers. I expect 2016 to be no different. Let’s hope it's the year marketing takes the customer into close consideration.