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The mobile is the message

Mobile will be the Job No. 1 for marketers who don't want to be left behind

Digital Marketing

Brian Sheehan 

The mobile is the message

The year 2016 appears to be one of the most momentous in and marketing ever. Why? Because most of the important trends that marketers have been following will reach their tipping point, all at the same time. 2016 will be a year when the and marketing landscape at the year-end would be fundamentally different than it was going in. Here are few of the important trends that will further gain favour with advertisers and marketers alike:

Digital first

For most marketers in 2016, strategies will be their first consideration. In the US market, for example, there is a very good chance that digital ad spending will eclipse or even surpass television spending (it is currently about 85 per cent of television spending).

What makes the upcoming year so exciting is not just that more people are preferring to spend time online rather than in front of the TV, but it is also that dozens of digital platforms are innovating in video. Facebook is prioritising video, Twitter is increasing its auto-play videos, and Pinterest is featuring Cinematic Pins. Live streaming on platforms like Periscope and Meerkat will also continue to expand. TV spending promises to stay large and somewhat stable, but the depth and breadth of video options online is unparalleled versus even a year ago, and demand for online video is seemingly insatiable. This is pulling marketer attention and ad dollars with it.

Mobile first
In the same year that digital becomes the first choice for marketers, mobile will become the first digital choice. Mobile ad spending in the US, for example, is already just over 50 per cent of digital spending. By the end of 2016, it could be as high as 65 per cent of digital spending. Mobile advertising and marketing strategies will explode across all mobile functions.

Marketers will increasingly get involved in mobile conversation via messaging apps. Mobile payments will continue their steady rise, with marketers trying to enhance the mobile wallet experience by providing special offers, coupons and loyalty programmes. Publicis chairman and CEO Maurice Levy noted in a recent conference address that "mobile wallets in India are common".

Mobile will also become an increasingly important platform for ecommerce. According to a recent report, there are "moves by the biggest digital companies - Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon - to simplify the transition from mobile shopping to mobile buying". Mobile has not really been an important part of ecommerce beyond the product researching phase. That will change in 2016. The emergence of buy buttons in the mobile space will have a big impact here. The same report notes that "Facebook will become nearly entirely mobile" in 2016. Already, over 45 per cent of Facebook users are mobile-only. When the world's largest social network becomes, in effect, a mobile property, it is time for everyone to take notice. In short, mobile will be "Job #1" for all major markets in 2016. That is, for any marketer who does not want to be left far, far behind.

So, that is what is happening. The big question is: What should brands be doing to stay relevant in an increasingly digital, mobile world with a dizzying array of platforms? The answer is for brand advertising to be useful and add value to the online or mobile task or conversation. Consumers will have less and less patience for advertising that does nothing more than interrupt their interactive experiences. The brands that add value will win. Those that don't will lose. It's that simple.

This article is just about the really big movements in 2016. They are the tip of the iceberg. Consumers are offering up more and more behavioural data from wearables and other internet of things (IoT) devices. Ad blocking is becoming a major issue in the mobile now, as well as the desktop space. Marketing automation is becoming a reality versus a goal for many savvy marketers. Surely, 2016 promises to be one of the most interesting and momentous years in the history of marketing and advertising.

Brian Sheehan
Associate professor of advertising, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University

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First Published: Mon, March 14 2016. 00:07 IST