The 5 Biggest Digital Marketing Revolutions of 2016

Stuart Elmes

 In the space of 20 years, advertising has evolved from a simple process of branding, design and distribution, into a tech-fuelled game of consumer relationships and data exchange. 

For brands, this movement has created a glut of choice as marketing services, technologies and channels continue to proliferate at an unprecedented rate. But for all their differences, these solutions all seem to be heading towards one conclusion: making advertising ever more relevant, more powerful and more cost-effective than ever before. 

These are the five digital advertising technologies that we, at Adimo, think have made a big impact in 2016 and are poised to change the way brands market themselves altogether:

The 5 Biggest Digital Marketing Revolutions of 2016


1) Augmented Reality

The Pokémon Go craze has proven that consumers (as well as their devices and data plans) are finally ready for augmented reality. We are now seeing brands experiment with ways to find use-cases which are both genuinely useful to the consumer and which can be monetised. The Tesco example below ticks one of those boxes beautifully – but the apparent lack of shoppable functionality seems to leave a missed opportunity:

Snapchat appears to be on the verge of tying off this loose end. Their most recent intellectual property looks to make AR-commerce a very real and imminent retail reality indeed.


2) Advertising by Consent

Where advertisers once feared ad blocking, the realisation that consumers are (finally) prepared to fight back against bad ads has come hand-in-hand with the realisation that they’ll welcome good ones with open arms.

Tesco Mobile’s recent venture is case-in-point:

With the rapid development in this area, an advertising brand must question why they would pay for media space at all when they are now able to cut out the ad-space middleman altogether and sell to the consumer directly.

It is clear that high quality and relevant content is critical to the success of advertising by consent, but direct-to-consumer advertising is an interesting space and is certainly an attractive method of managing a brand-customer relationship. Advertisers: you have been warned.


3) Live Streaming on Facebook

Last year Meerkat and Periscope stole the live streaming show, but both apps remain limited by the consumer needing the Meerkat app or a Twitter account. Facebook does away with these inconveniences, simply by virtue of having 33 million unique monthly users in the UK and a further 1.5 billion worldwide.

A number of branded efforts (e.g., the above from Dunkin’ Donuts) have already captured analysts’ attention while lead generation experts Hubspot have even created a Facebook Live how-to guide.
With the immediacy and personality of TV but without the expense or lack of precision, live streaming is a marketing technology to watch in the days to come.


4) Instant Messaging

In China, WeChat has set a gold standard for instant messaging; allowing customers to communicate directly with brands and complete payments in-conversation. In the West, meanwhile, we’re witnessing an Instant Messaging arms race. Some brands have turned to Facebook-owned Whatsapp (i.e., Zalando dishing out personal style advice), while Facebook itself has opened the door to brands to try building their own chat bots into their Messenger platform. Domino’s, for example, have expressed interest in using Facebook Bots to provide instant responses and 24-hour customer service – notably glossing over the fact that Messenger doesn’t look likely to be able to handle payments in the foreseeable future.

Included in the global development of IM, the developers who sold Siri to Apple for $200m are now developing Viv, which promises to be an almost uncomfortably lifelike AI chat program. The potential for marketers here is dizzying. No consumer was ever able to say to a banner ad, “I only wear white shirts, stop showing me blue ones!” with a realistic expectation that the advertiser would apologise – and never make the same mistake again.


5) Branded Mobile Apps (Finally)

There are success stories and horror stories in equal measure when it comes brands’ efforts to create their own mobile apps. Failures in this area haven’t been restricted strictly to upstart startups: large brands like Sainsbury’s, Toys R Us and Disney all feature amongs the most disappointing app experiences of all time.
But now that the excitement has settled, recognition is finally spreading of what branded apps are actually meant to achieve; genuine, practical benefits for brand evangelists on the move, with complete customer experience and monetisation capabilities built in from the start.

Offering improved speed and a more immersive brand experience than a mobile site, branded apps now have a clear market position – and are creating a generation of consumers permanently plugged into an advertising channel.

Reflecting on each example, it is clear that consumer engagement is the overarching theme.

The benefits of improved engagement (control, insight & optimisation to name a few) are clear, and it is not front-page news that the ability to engage consumers with content is something that is highly prized by marketers. It seems that business big and small are developing skills and technologies necessary to allow their brands to effectively connect with consumers.

We have seen that 2016 has been rife with potential in this area. However, what is not yet clear is which (if any) of these technologies have the ability to really generate a lasting impact. Which will separate the Blockbusters from the Amazons, rewarding the brands prepared to invest, and punishing those too slow to take the plunge?