2016 Digital Marketing Trends and Buzzwords

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Almost five months into 2016, we are seeing some consistent trends and buzzwords that are the main topics of conversation in digital marketing circles. Digital marketing – or mainstream marketing is an ever changing scenario. We are clear on one thing – consumers are the key drivers of change – and user behavior, user preferences is what drives trends in the field of marketing. Brands have to adapt, and be early adopters to stay ahead of the game. With constant changes in hardware, software, platforms, mediums and technologies, it's important for marketers to keep up and be aware of what's hot, what's not.

Video everywhere

With the battle for video supremacy hotting up between Google and Facebook, we know for sure that 2016 will be the Year of the Video format. YouTube (Google) have introduced 360-degree live streaming video. Earlier this month, Facebook, at their annual F8 conference also stressed on video – live video. And toped it with 360-degree camera support and VR as well.

Video will certainly come out the leading format in all things to do with social content and advertising. In online and mobile advertising, particularly, we are definitely going to see the domination of video. Google is getting on board with in-SERP video advertising. 

Mobile will lead over the desktop

Mobile has been big over the last couple of years, but now, in 2016, we know from Google that mobile traffic has actually overtaken desktop traffic. Google also stresses that today, a mobile only online presence (your website) is fine, as opposed to a desktop site that's optimized for mobile. Most social platforms are betting huge on mobile and there are signs that desktop is slowly fading away in comparison. The new platforms in social are clearly mobile focused. Brands better prepare their advertising and content strategy for mobile.

VR is emerging quickly

Not just as an entertainment application, but for marketing, VR is coming to the forefront. Facebook is certainly betting on it. With VR devices like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear VR and Playstation VR, it seems that in 2016, we will see Virtual Reality go mainstream. Brands are already jumping on board with highly immersive branded content for VR.

Apps becoming key for marketing with app-indexing

Apps have massive visibility – they are with us on our smartphones 24/7, and this, combined with the ability of apps to be more personal, intuitive and convenient will push this ahead. With app-indexing, and Google pushing hard on this, search rankings are becoming complex, and brands are realizing the potentials of dedicated apps for their marketing efforts.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is probably the hottest trend in social media marketing, and brands are trying hard to get this right. Influencer marketing focuses on specific key individuals rather than the target market as a whole – who then, in turn influence their following with the right messages about the brands. Influencer marketing is still pretty new, and growing, and with trends showing that consumers trust 'user content' a lot more than brand content, this is no surprise as a big trend already.


Listening is clearly the main topic in focus this year. Social media listening, also known as social monitoring is not only an everyday task these days, it's a 24/7 job. The process of identifying and analyzing what is being said about your brand, your product, your service (or you, for that matter) on the internet is crucial for any social media effort. There are hundreds of tools out there for this – some simple, free, and some complicated and detailed. Either way, you need to monitor what's being said out there, and this is no longer a trend, it is an absolute must have. Here's how brands get listening right...

Content and Context

While content marketing has been hot the last couple of years, context is becoming a huge buzzword in 2016. Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the leading lights in digital marketing says "content is king, but context is God". So, we are seeing "Contextual Marketing" emerge this year. Contextual Marketing is an online marketing model in which people are served with targeted advertising based on terms they search for or their recent browsing behavior. Brands create content specifically for each individual target client. Content delivered in context depends on deep analytics and a respect for the platforms that the content is purposed for. 

Real Time in Data

While 'Big Data' as a buzzword lost its shine, 'now data' or Real Time Data is certainly big for 2016.  Having access to real-time, in-the-now data helps brands make effective marketing decisions quickly. Social Media managers and media planners are tracking real-time conversations around their brands and technology is enabling this to become an important weapon in the marketing arsenal. While most data is clustered into three kinds of data (read here), real time data is what really matters most to the maketing folks who are on top of their game.

Programmatic – beyond media and into creative

Simply put, programmatic is automated media buying. Today, however, media agencies, armed with the power of insights derived from data, are now delving into 'automated creative' as well – which allows for highly optimized and individualized creative messages to be delivered in the right context at the right time. It's the battle for eyeballs taken to the next level.

Newsrooming and newsjacking

Brands today are utilizing the power of the here and now, discovering trends as they happen and riding on that wave almost immediately. Brands have set up 'newsrooming' teams that leverage on a in-the-moment news story that's relevant to their brand or viral content to put forward its own content or message.

And, the winner is... Snapping!

Brands are jumping on the Snapchat bandwagon and trying to get this platform (aimed at the younger audiences, primarily) to work for them. In social media marketing, this is by far the biggest trend already for 2016. Brands are discovering the importance of being 'cool' when and where it matters, and are building audiences on this hot, trending platform. Creating 'snapchat stories' is fast becoming a great way for brands to engage their younger audiences. Here's how brands can build their experiences and audiences.

2016 is young yet. These are just some of the basic trends that are grabbing headlines. I'm sure there's more happening out there, and yet more to come. But so far, that's just the basics. That's Digital Marketing Strategies 101.


Good points and useful reminders on what is really going on so far. I do feel that while Snapchat is probably the quick hit trend, it may peter out like Vine? It's the niche audience (very young) that may not hold brands faithful in the long run. On the other hand, video, live stream and VR may be far more relevant as time passes.


Mobile will always stay on that trending list, because mobile is always evolving and improving the way people consume media, the way they interact on social, and the way it improves their lives.


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