Top 9 2016 Digital Trends to Watch For

By BKV in Industry News on January 8th, 2016

Top 9 Digital Trends to Watch For

What does 2016 have in store for digital marketers?  How should you shift your strategy to take advantage of these opportunities, and where should you concentrate your efforts? Hear what our experts have to say.

1. YouTube is a Top Priority for Search for 2016

YouTube watch times are doubling year over year and over 25% of all video watch time occurs on YouTube. Given YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds in the US than any cable network, advertisers and brands are quickly taking notice that this is where their audiences are. Google has made it easier than ever to buy and manage YouTube video campaigns within the AdWords interface. With auction pricing options based on cost per view such as TrueView skippable ads (where the advertiser doesn’t pay when a user hasn’t clicked or viewed a significant portion of the ad,) YouTube is an option for all advertisers. Bottom line?  Adding YouTube to a campaign is a great way to increase reach (don't forget — it's the second largest search engine in the world)!

YouTube is a top priority for search for 2016

2. Customer Match will be a Game Changer

Google Customer Match is a game-changer for clients that have CRM data and can be utilized across Search, Gmail & YouTube — it's the biggest feature launch in the history of AdWords! By leveraging CRM data, Customer Match allows advertisers to segment and target (or exclude) users based on purchase history, costumer profiles, prospects, etc. Within Gmail and YouTube, the ability also exists to create similar audiences in order to expand upon likely converters. We think this is a sure win in 2016.

3. The Year of Mobile Has Come and Gone

As of 2015, over 50% of search queries take place on mobile. This trend will only continue to rise as we rely more and more on mobile devices. It is more important than ever to ensure websites are not just mobile-friendly but mobile-optimized. (Hint: BKV provides mobile site analyses for our clients at no cost.) The conversion process should be as painless as possible in order to drive not just researchers, but also converters via mobile; advertisers should leverage a call to action such as click-to-call in order to push the searcher further through the conversion funnel. In addition, it will remain crucial to appear in a top position within the SERPs in order to receive any impression share and to run with extensions in order to take up as much real estate as possible. Leveraging Google Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and Customer Match are great ways to purposefully bid up when a searcher is more likely to convert. 

4. Paid Social will Begin to Rival TV

With digital ad spending forecasted to surpass TV in 2017 and Facebook’s emergence as an enormous video platform, paid social video will begin to compete with TV budgets.  Facebook and Twitter have partnered with third parties to offer reporting that directly ties ads to offline purchases, and TV falls short.

Social Network Ad Spending Growth5. Messaging Apps will Pick up Steam

49% of mobile users will use mobile messaging in 2016. Snapchat’s advertising business will grow, with some analysts predicting it’s now on pace to bring in about $100 million over a 12-month span.  Facebook will also begin monetizing Messenger and WhatsApp in 2016. 

6. Buy Buttons: The Rise of Social E-commerce

Last year we wrote about Twitter and Facebook adding “buy” buttons to their platforms and by the end of 2015 all of the major players have implemented this feature. It’s been a slow process and it’ll take a while for consumers to use them but Facebook is fascinating to watch as they create new ways and reasons why you should add your debit/credit card. Two examples are the new fundraiser pages for non-profit organizations (BKV had the honor of implementing this with our client Wounded Warrior Project) and the ability to send funds via Facebook’s Messenger product. Previously there wasn’t a good reason to add a payment method on Facebook or Twitter, but as these platforms create multiple reasons why we should, the barrier to shopping via social closes.
(This BKV trend was also featured in a NonProfit Pro article.)

Adoption of buy buttons among US digital retailers , by platform7. Live Streaming: An Old Idea Becomes a New Medium

As cavemen evolved into humans, so too has video content to live streaming. With YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and Vine, consumers and millennials in particular have binged and watched billions of videos. From short films to six seconds, there are a variety of platforms that have wide appeal or even niche audiences. This year, we’ve seen Periscope become popular among people all over the world broadcasting to friends and strangers about music, daily life or even live Q&A’s. Twitch was purchased by Amazon for $1 billion and features users live streaming as they play video games. Facebook recently launched live video feeds for verified accounts, which nowadays, if the Goliath of Facebook is interested, it’s a sure bet this space is heating up.

8. Optimizing SEO for User Intent will Become Increasingly Important  

We expect SEO agencies to make new efforts in 2016 optimizing for user intent as a way to grow former keyword strategies into new content strategies, and secondly to focus on building brand authority as opposed to simply link building.

Google’s machine learning technology known as RankBrain was silently rolled out throughout 2015. Bing has a similar Audience Intelligence (AI) technology called RankNet. RankBrain analyzes historic search data, identifies relationships between words, and has been confirmed by Google as the 3rd most important ranking signal. The point of RankBrain is for Google search to better understand what users mean when they search.  As a response to this user intent focus by Google, SEO agencies will be focusing on analyzing content of a website or social channel to determine if not only a full covering of keywords are used, but that the full range of user intent within the user journey is covered. These new efforts may be described by many names such as content marketing, content gap analysis, content performance reporting or content generation SEO.

9. Marketers will use Local SEO to Build Authority Signals

Focus on mobile usage for 2016 is no surprise. However, we predict even brands that do not have brick-and-mortar store locations will begin leveraging Local SEO to build authority signals. Google’s interest in local signals for mobile users has spawned a surge in local listing data providers and review sites. Direct to consumer and B2B brands with regional offices or headquarters can leverage these locations to build brand mentions, citations, links and even reviews. All of which are a white hat alternative to traditional link building, which has seen a decline in interest due to the abundance of Penguin penalties and messages from Google about unnatural links.


Are you ready to take advantage of these shifts in the digital landscape?  Where are you focusing your efforts this year?  Let us know in the comments below!

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