10 Digital Marketing Trends That May Shape 2016 - Venke Sharma

Venke Sharma shares his list of the top 10 digital marketing trends that will define 2016: growth of WhatsApp, rise of connected consumers, rise of Digital PR, and more

digital media marketing

Editor’s Note: At LI we are inviting some of the best digital marketing minds of the country to share their opinion on how the market and the different facets will evolve or fail to attract in 2016. This is the first in the series, an article first published at Sharing Digital authored by Venke Sharma, digital marketing professional. You can follow him on Twitter - @venke (Click here to find the entire coverage of this year end series)

(Click here to find the entire coverage of this series)

Every new year promises to be brighter than the previous one. While it could mostly be wishful thinking, here are the top 10 trends that may shape 2016. Marketing folks watch out!

Rise of the connected consumer

2015 has been a fantastic year for digital media and marketing. Digital space is no longer niche. So we can stop calling digital as New Media. Facebook, Twitter, Google are as much part of our lives today as are Print, Television and Cinema. And the best part is digital has not replaced other traditional media as was predicted by many.

Consumers are living connected lives. They do not differentiate between new and old media. It is one world – a digital world for them that connects various media forms & platforms seamlessly. Conveniently switching from screens or consuming multiple screens/messages at the same time. Look at the numbers.

The most watched Live Sports event on TV is also the most watched live sports event online and is also the most tweeted moment in India in 2015. – India V Pakistan – World Cup 2015.

Online video viewership is here to stay and it’s not a monopoly

This year saw the launch of a host of over-the-top content (OTT) platforms challenging the monopoly of YouTube. Users are looking beyond run of the mill User Generated Content. Demand for curated content is on the rise.

Going by news reports more OTT players (local and international) will join the play. A lot will be dependent on how the technology & infrastructure will adapt. Cheaper, faster bandwidth/ WiFi will enable more ‘on the go’ content consumption. Success of Jio & 4G will propel demand for On demand content.

When it comes to social video performance, this year marketers have experienced the exponential power of Facebook Video. The video ecosystem play will be interesting with TV channels, OTT players, online content creators, Facebook, Twitter & YouTube fighting and feeding off each other.

Social media - Marketers will look beyond paid media

After days of guessing the Twitter actual user base in India the numbers are out. About 22 million users, roughly 17% of Indian social network users. However Twitterati represent voices that define and shape the public discourse. Despite lower reach compared to Facebook (130 mn), most listening tools largely pick up Twitter conversations. So brands looking for actionable insights through social conversations get largely Twitter b(i)ased insights.

2016 will be the year when various tools will open up Facebook data for more insight gathering beyond one’s own brand page. Going beyond public data even private data can get anonymously reported to provide a directional sense without compromising on user privacy. Twitter through its TV ratings (available in US) is staking claim as the companion app for TV viewers. With better data availability, Facebook may push hard on that front as well.

Unleashing the tiger – WhatsApp

We know the power of WhatsApp. The ecosystem is currently closed to advertisers. Some B2B players have started engaging on WhatsApp with a limited set of key users. However large brands are unable to communicate with the massively engaged userbase without spamming them. They are ending up doing a one way conversation (Consumers need to add a specific number and the brand will broadcast communication. There is no ability to track or respond to consumers one on one)

WhatsApp may open up the platform to more analytics to begin with and subsequently open up for marketers to do some focused engagement.

Programmatic buying - catch me if you can!

The focus will be more on who should see the ad than when and where. Targeting & Retargeting the most relevant audience set for a desired outcome will be the driving force for media buying which will be more real time than ever.

We may still book inventory well in advance but decisions about how to use that will be made Real Time.

Shaping the narrative - Digital PR

News is going truly social. Consumers have started picking their community curated news articles/videos on social media. Traditional news media have started picking their stories from social.

We have also seen a whole lot of startups incubated in the online news space. Online News will have some major action in 2016. Combined with power of social media the spread of news & views will be faster than ever. This will pose an enormous challenge to corporates to shape the narrative.

The enormity of the challenge will require new ways of dealing with PR & Corporate Communications. Real Time PR will emerge as the most important aspect of Real Time Marketing.

It’s not EnglishNet – Vernacular content will fuel internet

2016 will be the year vernacular content (text, audio & video) will make a strong pitch to drive engagement. We will see brands curate, listen & respond to conversations in vernacular languages. About 127 million internet users are already consuming content in vernacular. The next 100-200 million consumers who will get started on the internet will only do so because content is in their language.

Tweet to the CEO - CRM goes social

Consumers are realizing that it is far easier to get the organisation to act/respond by using social media than by calling or emailing. Public naming or shaming is pushing CEOs and companies to respond to social at an alarming speed. However most of the traditional BPOs have not been able to build any serious capabilities in this area. Especially dealing with consumers with nonlinear transactions. Digital agencies are not geared for integrated consumer response at scale. Organisations will look at innovative ways to bridge this gap.

Governance goes digital

Mumbai police says that now we can file FIR through a tweet. This is a landmark move. This can pave way for more government departments to become social at heart. They will have to listen and respond to customers Real Time.

Driven aggressively by PM, CMs, MPs, MLAs various government departments are taking to social. While it may take a few years for governance to truly go digital, ability to connect with key stake holders may well be the beginning of a Digital India.

Demand for talent

Marketers and agencies will expect talent to be digitally capable. Whether it is planning, creative, media or execution every marketer will be expected to confidently deal with digital just like any other touch point. This will put enormous pressure on those who still are looking at a digital specialist for answers.

This demand will put to test ‘old ways’ of working. Rethink is bound to happen with the way marketing team and agency teams are structured. With so much activity on digital media, PR & social CRM, demand for capable talent will be significant.