Out With The Old, In With People-Based Marketing: What Marketers Should Expect In 2016
How will digital marketing transform this year? From the new ad-blocking landscape to mobile and more, columnist Mike Sands lays out his predictions.
The beginning of a new year brings resolutions, new beginnings, and for many marketers, a fresh look at their strategies to reach and engage customers.
Technology continues to advance, creating a marketing atmosphere where the only constant is change. It’s more challenging than ever to determine which digital trends will be the next big thing and which will be a flash in the pan.
While 2015 brought a continued proliferation of channels, devices, apps, platforms and toolsets, marketers shifted their attention to refocus on what really counts: people.
Research from Signal (my employer) found that 82 percent of marketers plan to increase use of first-party data — that is, data from a brand’s own customers — because it gives the best insight into customers and contributes significantly to an increase in lifetime value.
Marketers are realizing that digital marketing is moving beyond cookies and browsers and that with the right technology, they can tap into their own gold mines of customer data from all channels to target addressable audiences in precisely the right place and at precisely the right moment. This is people-based marketing, and it’s never been more top-of-mind than it is right now.
So how will this powerful people-based approach evolve in 2016? Here’s a telling sign: In conversations with clients, Signal hears that media buyers are being directed to shift as much as 50 percent of their budgets to fully addressable media options over the next year or two — up from single-digit percentages.
Marketers will aim to achieve people-based marketing not just through one device, like smartphones, or in one channel, like the web. Instead, 2016 will be about overcoming data and technology challenges to connect with real people, while using real-time intent data to trigger more relevant messages and deliver the seamless, personalized experiences consumers expect.
While this is the marquee trend that we anticipate will dominate the digital marketing landscape this year, it’s certainly not the only change we’ll see. Here are some additional predictions as to how digital marketing will evolve in 2016.
Hitting The Bull’s-Eye Will Become Advertisers’ Top Priority
Programmatic media buying has exploded over the last six years, due largely to the need for efficiency, and ultimately, reduced costs.
But the gains that can be extracted from workflow efficiency may soon be hitting a ceiling and will lead advertisers to look at other ways to get more value for their ad spend.
The result? A shifting focus from workflow efficiency to “targeting efficiency,” or in other words — more importantly — a shift from focusing on the lowest possible price to the best possible target.
Technology Closes The Last Mile Between Mobile Consumers And Marketers
Marketers have yet to nail the challenges of recognizing customers on smartphones, tablets, wearables and beacons — channels and devices where web cookies are limited. In 2016, marketers will increasingly seek to close this gap with data collection technology that works in new mobile environments.
One approach is server-based technology that uses API connections and the cloud to gather data from any type of connected device. Deterministic matching and the ability to harness live intent signals for immediate customer recognition will also be mission-critical to mastering mobile and delivering relevant, in-the-moment customer experiences.
Collaborative Data Networks Become A Reality
With the rise of people-based marketing, advertisers have increased their reliance on walled gardens like Google and Facebook. These campaigns are effective in reaching known customers, but they have a significant downside: Advertisers don’t get their data back to build user profiles and close the loop on attribution.
In 2016, brands and publishers will explore collaborative data networks to expand their pools of recognizable customers, while still safeguarding privacy and retaining control.
By partnering to share anonymized data in environments that are safe and secure, and where they set the rules, brands can offset the growing dominance of a few digital giants, creating transformational value and a sustainable competitive advantage.
Ad Blocking: From Fad To Foe
In 2016, as ad blocking becomes the new normal, advertising must get better. Improved targeting, formats and relevancy will become essential to breaking through to consumers.
Publishers and consumers also will have to make choices about ads and paywalls versus free content. Consumers will have to decide if it’s worth turning off the ad blocker to access desired content at no cost.
If there’s one theme for marketing in 2016, it’s this: Marketers are under pressure to provide more relevant customer experiences, and they have the power to do so with data and insights from their own users.
A sea change is taking place across the industry’s data landscape, as marketers will increasingly turn to first-party data to fuel real-time, people-based marketing.