Four Marketing Developments That Mattered in 2016

The following is a guest contributed post by Nels Stromborg, Executive Vice President at Retale. Marketing is always changing. Whether it’s technology or the way that agencies, vendors, and brands work together, no part of the ecosystem is untouched at year’s end. And 2016 was...

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opinionThe following is a guest contributed post by Nels Stromborg, Executive Vice President at Retale.

Marketing is always changing. Whether it’s technology or the way that agencies, vendors, and brands work together, no part of the ecosystem is untouched at year’s end. And 2016 was no different.

But what were the most interesting developments? Or the most frustrating? What innovations and challenges will have an impact on 2017? Here are four.

  1. Improving mobile formats.

Over the past two years, mobile conversations have shifted toward improving ad formats. In the first half of 2016, mobile accounted for 47% of all digital ad spend as marketers devoted a smaller portion of their budget to desktop ads. And with mobile consumer adoption at an all-time high – even overtaking desktop – and money pouring into mobile campaigns, advertisers, publishers and platforms are seeking ways to optimize campaigns by making formats more engaging, immersive and visually compelling.

Data is also playing a key role in these changes. Many clients and partners are talking about the need for a more data-driven approach across mobile creative, to drive performance but also support attribution. In 2017, these developments will accelerate.

  1. Virtual reality and 360-degree video.

VR and 360-degree video finally became a marketing reality in 2016. As an example, Samsung’s Gear VR showcase with VICE at Cannes emphasized the incredible potential virtual reality offers, not only to consumers, but to advertisers, agencies and publishers looking for innovative new ways to connect with audiences. AOL recognized this, too, acquiring RYOT in April. Unlike other marketing channels or platforms, VR enables fully immersive, interactive experiences that are essentially unmatched in terms of audience buy-in, enthusiasm and engagement.

Still, there are very real challenges in scaling both the technology and the content. Customers as a whole are slow to respond to VR because it’s a complex technology that most people have little experience with. While it’s still early days for the category, 2016 has showed us that the industry is now looking seriously at VR and 360-degree video and investments will only grow, turning that potential into reality.

  1. Viewability & ad fraud.

Doom and gloom are common themes in advertising – but ad fraud and viewability are the real deal. The World Federation of Advertisers reported that marketers could waste more than $50 billion a year by 2025 due to endemic bot fraud. However, companies like TAG are constantly working to eliminate fraud, combat malware and fight internet piracy. They even recently awarded the first group of “certified against fraud” seals to companies who meet a series of strict anti-fraud standards. On the viewability side, it’s estimated that only 54% of video ads across the web are ever viewed. These are real problems that are challenging the industry.

The key distinction here, however, is that these numbers are largely focused on desktop display. Mobile is primed to benefit as marketers continue to be concerned about fraud and viewability issues on PCs. In-app advertising in particular will see growth given its built-in advantages in safeguarding against bots and viewability through device IDs, mobile responsive scrolling, etc.

  1. Data activation.

Marketers have a love affair with data. That affair has only bloomed as more consumer touchpoints and channels have emerged. They’re collecting, analyzing and optimizing customer data more efficiently than ever before. Now, marketers are faced with the difficult task of activating against that data – implementing it to improve business and grow revenue. They want to have a “one customer view” through their datasets, isolating and predicting the buying behaviors of customers across channels – as well as the very best media channels – to most efficiently reach those customers. This is another way to streamline operating costs and develop more efficient go-to-market strategies.

In 2016, the industry took several steps forward in terms of technology with more self-service tools to eliminate learning curves. But we’re still just beginning to activate data at the scale that most advertisers need. One solution will be to bring on more dedicated data scientists in-house to support operations.

As we head into the New Year, expect these topics to continue to be top-of-mind and drive how marketers think about strategy.

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