Digital Media predictions for 2016


Digital Media predictions for 2016 ...

It’s almost December which can only mean one thing.... no, not the secret santa draw or Christmas music on repeat in the office but our industry predictions for 2016! The Media team at equimedia have put their futurist heads together and shortlisted the following as their top trend predictions in the world of Digital Media.

The rise of Instagram

I know Mike, our Head of Paid Search, is predicting the rise of Yahoo but we are placing our bets on the rise of Instagram; well all things in-feed really, especially in light of the ‘adblockalypse’ and how these types of formats can lessen the impact. We spoke about native advertising within our 2015 trends piece at a time when Instagram ads were still in beta but over the course of this year, the social networking app has slowly rolled out its advertising solution to brands and integrated its offering with Facebook. This has made the platform far more accessible, not just for branding campaigns that are aspirational and centred around discovery but for direct response too. Just scanning my content feed I can see sponsored posts from Costa, Mulberry, Tefal, Fosters, a strange karaoke app and Entrepreneurs Circle; so quite an eclectic mix!

Instagram has great momentum behind it and is something we predict will continue into 2016 and beyond. According to business2community, “Instagram ad revenues are predicted to dramatically increase year on year and will attract more revenue than other leading mobile ad platforms by 2017”. So why will advertisers and digital marketers move more of their budget into Instagram next year? Instagram is seeing a huge growth in users with it recently “reaching 400 million users with half of them using the site daily”, it is this active user base that is attractive to advertisers and the fact that their own target audience are using the app. I have already mentioned conquering the ad blocking hurdle and achieving measurable results is another appeal. According to Instagram “97% of campaigns have generated a significant lift in ad recall and studies by Kenshoo found that “users are two and a half times more likely to click on Instagram ads than any other social media platform”. A case study from in the UK saw 10% higher AOV from Instagram vs Facebook prospecting and post-view ROI was looking 13% better than other channels.

Instagram Madedotcom

It is still important however that brands continue to consider the platform that they are on and to view Instagram as a distinct channel from Facebook. Instagram presents a great opportunity to reach a passionate community where its users are looking for visual inspiration, to follow people they don’t know and to share their passions; whereas Facebook is much more for personal discovery and connecting with friends and families. The campaign objectives can be the same but the execution needs to be very different. A creative execution we are fans of here within the media team are cinemagraphs (half video/half photograph) which make clever use of the autoplay format which sets an image in motion without the user having to click a button. Here are some examples of branded cinemagraphs on Instagram.

Cross-device - putting faith in the value of mobile advertising

Through cross-device conversion reporting, digital marketers will further understand the impact of mobile within the media mix and look to organise their media budget around audiences and not around channels. 2016 is more than likely going to be the year of mobile (again!) especially as it is now dominating desktop when it comes to searches but it is often under-represented when comparing conversions with desktop.

With Google’s launch of cross-device, if a user clicks on a mobile ad, fails to convert but returns to a desktop to complete the action, Google will report this as a cross-device action for both display and search activity. This is based on behavioural data aggregated from logged-in anonymous data. According to Google, “90% of consumers start an activity on one device yet finish on another” therefore having a measurement framework in place for cross-device gives marketers greater accountability when it comes to investing in mobile and allows them to optimise towards consumer behaviour.

Mobile is an influential part of the funnel, particularly if you want to capitalise on those ‘micro-moments’ so having line of sight into the customer journey provides a better allocation of media budget and is something we will see take shape in 2016. So far, cross-device has been able to prove that media budget is working harder than previously thought and that factoring in cross-device lowers the CPA. Targeting is the next step but a softly softly approach needs to be taken here with the customer put first.

Connected storytelling

Going online is no longer something that we do. Rather, being online is who we are and this connected world we live in offers the most comprehensive opportunity for brands to connect with people in 2016 in more ways than ever before. Coupled with this are the vivid changes in user behaviour as people jump across different devices, moving quickly between various touch points. Rather than sitting in easily identifiable silos, sticking rigidly to a small number of media outlets, the online audience operates across multiple screens and devices to fulfil their wants and needs. This new context has given rise to the new narrative of ‘moments’ and ‘micro moments’, with Google, in particular, encouraging an adoption of this ‘moments’ narrative in 2016. With people consuming media faster than ever before (and somewhat combined with a declining attention span), the battle between advertisers to reach people quickly and effectively, in the ‘moments that matter’ will be key to building meaningful relationships between people and brands in 2016.

The key to making the most of these moments is predominately two-fold – connected storytelling and clever use of data. It is essential that advertisers, for any campaign, ensure that the thread of their key message and, most importantly, their personality is weaved through all of their communications, no matter the environment or device upon which the message is being placed. These more emotive, personality driven ads can refocus digital marketing more directly on building a brand online and taking advantage of the power of great stories to connect with an audience. Working in tandem with a great story though, is understanding the importance of context and shaping a communication around it. This is where the clever use of data comes to the fore allowing advertisers to truly understand how people use their mobile devices versus a desktop versus a tablet for instance. Each play a different role within the digital ecosystem and having an appreciation of these differences will dictate the ways in which a story should be told.

Being fast, agile and continuously testing, learning and responding to changing consumption habits, is the key to ensuring people are reached at the right moment, with the right message. Those that can rise to this challenge will see their focus move away from just being about delivering the ‘bottom line’ but appreciating that digital platforms, in particular, have an ability to positively connect and influence people’s lives in a way that no other medium can.

Quality vs Quantity – the impact ad blocking and viewability is making in the industry

2015 has been dominated by stories of the increasing use of ad blocking technologies and concerns over the viewability of display ads. Each week, the industry press was awash with the news of ad blocking use rising exponentially or of case studies where a digital campaign was seen more by robots than humans! Signal the ‘Imperial March’ music and sound of the death knell because this is the end of digital advertising as we know it. But, in spite of all this negativity, I won’t be heading to the job centre just yet.

The rise of ad blocking and concerns over viewability is undoubtedly a very real challenge that our industry needs to acknowledge and address directly. How we address this challenge is fundamentally about re-evaluating the relationship between publishers, advertisers and end-users and a focus on the value exchange that takes place between the three parties. Neither can ‘have their cake and eat it too’ and so there needs to be a move to developing the advertising and content landscape to better satisfy the requirements of each group.

“Advertisers cannot flood users with ads attempting to sell them their wares, publishers cannot have their web pages dominated by ads as a means to make more money, but users must appreciate the value of the ‘free’ internet and that for great content, there needs to be a commercial engine that drives this access.”

From this, we believe that the industry needs to adjust its focus to the quality of inventory, rather than just the quantity of impressions on a plan. This re-evaluation will lead to the end of plans with tens of millions of impressions, at exceedingly low CPM rates, and a new focus on better quality inventory at a more premium price. With better targeted and more impactful ads, the online experience will be become more valuable and more meaningful to the three key parties involved. We are already seeing the beginnings of this move to better quality inventory, with the Dutch football magazine website, Voetbal International, cutting its available inventory by one third, back in March this year. This trailblazing site has been to the top of the mountain and has seen the future of digital advertising by focusing on quality inventory and, after a difficult first few months, is seeing revenue growth as clients see better results from their media buys.

Whilst the industry is taking strides to improve viewability and lessen the impact of ad blocking through the use of technology, the progressive, and very human, approach adopted by Voetbal International (and many others we hope in 2016) will see the industry overcome the challenges set by viewability and ad blocking. Read more about these challenges in our recent state of play and view on viewability blogs.

Digital Audio

The distribution of audio content has changed massively and the digital audio marketplace in the UK is booming thanks to the likes of Spotify, Deezer and Soundcloud to name but a few. Audio content that is streamed on a connected device has reached a record high with the number of songs played rising by 80% compared to this time last year. I attended a recent Radioworks event in Bristol, where it was reported that 12.6% of all UK music listened to in 2014 was through streaming.

Source: Spotify

With my media buying hat on, we have already seen innovation in this space from DAX, the digital audio exchange that brings the digital audio marketplace together in one accessible place where ads can be bought programmatically and at scale. But, the more that audio content is consumed via connected devices (cars and wearable tech will help fuel this growth) the longer the digital audio industry will continue to disrupt the now traditional display and video.


2016 promises to be an exciting year with lots of new developments and opportunities in store. If you’re interested in any elements that you’ve read and would like to find out more, check out our services, or get in touch with a member of our new business team.


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