4 Marketing Trends in 2016 & Implications for Content Marketing

It’s the time of the year when you return from holidays with a full year marketing budget and approved brand strategy in hand. It’s also the time of the year when you have seen many reports or articles about predictions and trends in 2016, and are trying to figure out what can you act upon.

Let’s face it: time is the most valuable asset. Instead of spending hours or weeks collecting reports, we connect the dots and distill the implications for you.

Trend 1: Yeah, ad blocking… but it’s not the end of the world
With ad blocking technologies easily accessible and with the rise of tech savvy young demographics, ad blocking has been bothering advertisers. Yes, around 30% of Americans aged 18-34 use ad blockers on their desktop. But it’s really not the end of the world. First, it’s far less prevalent on mobile. Second native ads on social platforms, as well as in-app mobile ads, can get away from ad blocking, and this is where most people increasingly hang out.

Implication 1: More relevant content
Obviously, adjust your budget allocation to channels where you can reach consumers effectively. But more profoundly, present relevant, useful content to consumers so that they won’t feel disrupted and annoyed!

Trend 2: Dollars shift (even more) to mobile
Smartphone users worldwide are expected to reach 2 billion in 2016. If you believe in the basic rule of marketing: where the eyeballs go, the dollars follow, then you won’t find the following figure surprising: according to emarketers, mobile ad spending will surpass $100 billion worldwide in 2016, and for the first time will account for more than 50% of all digital ad expenditures.

Implication 2: Tailor content to mobile screen
Mobile screens are precious but SMALL advertising real estate relative to traditional marketing channels like TV, billboard, desktop etc. Consumer behavior on mobile platforms is also fundamentally different: they “snack” on content throughout the day, even while on the go or while they’re multi-tasking. To grab a few seconds of their attention, brands need to provide short-format, memorable content that fits the screen size and is native to the platform (you don’t want a coupon flyer image showing up on their Instagram feed). Marketers need to evaluate visual content in the context of mobile device to judge the content in the eyes of consumer at the moment of use.

Trend 3: Go visual or go home
2015 was already a rich year for visual marketing, but 2016 has the potential to be even more transformational. This trend seems obvious if you remember how quickly Instagram (solely a visual platform) surpassed Twitter in user base, and how daily Facebook video views grew from 4 to 8 billion between April and November in 2015. The attention span of the modern consumer has reached a historical low of 8 seconds. In this environment, visual communication is the only way to go.

Implication: Have a unique visual identity & brand voice
With billions of images and videos shared/uploaded daily, and with the fragmentation of channels to publish visual content, how can your brand stand out? It’s more critical than ever to have a consistent story to tell, a unique brand voice and a visual identity of your own.

Trend 4: Targeted advertising will get more sophisticated (…if not creepy!)
Thanks to the ad tech industry, micro targeting, hyper targeting and cross-device targeting are now all possible for advertisers. On Facebook, you can create 1,000 different ads for 1,000 hyper-targeted audiences. In the digital marketing space, ads can be targeted at the consumer with military precision. And in 2016, ad targeting will get more sophisticated thanks to data collecting giants like Google and Facebook.

Implication: Personalize creative
The days of mass communication are gone. Marketers should be celebrate, as you can now talk to your target audience on personal level, showing them content that resonates exactly at the moment they need it! Perfect world, right? Yes, it can be, if you have high quality, personalized content! With so much data and so many tools at your disposal, showing exactly the same product image to a young professional Asian female who just moved to Canada as to a Hispanic male who just became a father may not be a smart idea. To make the most of the targeting tools, you need a micro view of your target and content that is personalized just for them. This is easier said than done, and might require new capabilities both from in house and from agencies/vendors.


It’s going to be an exciting year for marketers! Yes, there will be lots of new trends, shifts, and changes, but that’s what keeps the job fun. Whether you’re a Marketing VP, Social Media Manager or Content Marketing editor, here are three takeaways when you think about your 2016 content strategy:

You need a scalable content creation model: a couple blockbuster TV commercials or key visuals won’t satisfy the appetite of your digital-savvy consumer. The volume and variety of visual content you and your team need to create is unprecedented.

You need customized content: your content needs to be customized to the device, type of channel (Facebook, Instagram, Periscope), target segment, location, seasonality…as granular as your brand needs to target its audience.

You need a unique, consistent story: build a single, strong and differentiated visual identity and brand voice on fragmented channels; have a well-crafted campaign with a core theme that translates well to short format, visually appealing content.

Now is a great time to re-evaluate your agencies, vendors, organization structure, budget and talent capabilities using a practical lens and adjust accordingly. It’s costlier than you realize to resist change and to stick with the status quo. Don’t wait till your existing model is ineffective – it will be too late in the game. Winning brands embrace the new trends, and know they need to be nimble in adapting.