Most Impactful Changes we Saw in Digital Marketing in 2016

Most Impactful Changes we Saw in Digital Marketing in 2016

Like every year, 2016 was one for the books. Digital marketing changed in many ways, some of them convenient, some of them downright obnoxious. There were changes in SEO, email marketing trends, social media, content marketing, PPC, you-name-it. Digital marketing in 2016 was fast paced and forced our team to keep up. Here are some of the most impactful changes we saw.

Video (Pre-recorded and Live)

Online video consumption was the most explosive growth area in all marketing, and it’s not going to stop in 2017 (Facebook and YouTube are the first and second most visited destinations on the web.)

And it’s not just prerecorded videos making noise. Facebook’s live video blew up in a big way this year. People spend 3X longer watching video live vs. not, and video posts have 135% greater organic reach on Facebook than photo posts. This is certainly getting the industries attention and it’s possible we’ll see more things happening with Facebook Live & other live video technology next year.

Mobile & AMP

We started 2016 knowing that mobile was a critical piece to any marketing strategy but it has evolved further this year and will continue to make headlines in 2017. This year, Google introduced a new standard for building mobile web pages called AMP (accelerated mobile pages). These pages are lighter and simpler versions of HTML which load incredibly fast on mobile devices, leading to enhanced user experience. Google also announced their plans to create a mobile-first index early next year as a way to better represent the majority of their users who are mobile searchers.

Bottom line, if a company is still thinking desktop first, chances are they are missing out on a lot of opportunities for new customers.

Momentary Marketing

A huge focus of Think With Google was how micro-moments help us understand how mobile interaction & content fit into the buyer journey. I

In short, a lot of big jumps in the buyer journey seem to be happening in more spur of the moment times, which usually means mobile. The data is so significant here (90% of smartphone users have used their phone to make progress toward a long-term goal or multi-step process) that Google advocates going a step further than a simple buyer’s journey, and creating a moments map.

One perfect example of this is Snapchat. The most established brands saw tremendous success in pushing ads and brand experiences through the platform, offering exclusive content with an expiration date. Less is more!

Virtual Reality

Showing up in a big way in 2016, Nielsen reports that 24% of consumers will likely use or purchase VR in the next year.

Internet of Things

According to Forbes, most advertisers believe IoT is critical for our industry. A key trend we are seeing is location intelligence, which can help us connect the dots between advertising & foot traffic.  It can also be a game changer for data & analytics, to get complete pictures of target personas and demographics.

Similarly, voice search and the A.I. that is supporting contextual search “conversations” has huge implications for our industry long term.

Security & Hacking

After a year of cyber hacks, this is an important trend to note. As digital technology & marketing platforms explode, you can’t ignore the threat that cyber-security poses.

Some key things to consider:

  • IoT technology is rife for security hacks and will likely be a target in 2017
  • Organizations will have to budget more for cyber security, likely pulling resources from areas like advertising
  • Ensure your website is secure and difficult to hack (WordPress websites, we’re looking at you) is critical
  • Password security is critical throughout your marketing efforts – if your Twitter handle password is “password1,” you’re going to have a bad time next year

To give an idea, Cisco’s 2016 annual security report found that only 29% of small to medium sized businesses used basic security tools in their operations and the cost of handling cyber-attacks is expected to rise from $400 billion in 2015 to $2.1 trillion by 2019.

The Rise of Snapchat

Snapchat exceeded YouTube in daily video views (10 billion!) – and became a huge player in the social media marketing space. Their advertising abilities from on-demand geo-filters to sponsored videos has become a key way to reach the digital native market.

Facebook Messenger for Customer Service

Facebook became a top channel for customer service related issues and their dev team responded by updating their messenger platform. You can now create instant replies, saved replies, welcome greetings, and response times to accommodate users messaging your page with questions. This allows your brand/business to be available and responsive even when you’re not there – providing better customer service than before.


Successful digital marketing boils down to creating a high-quality experience for users and answering their questions with high-quality content. Regardless of the marketing tactic/channel, users keep getting better at ignoring crap content, click-bait, and spam. The companies that win in 2017 will be the ones that know their audience, understand their needs, and provide them with awesome online experiences. SEO specifically will continue to be more about helping companies do a better job at reaching, attracting & converting their target market though high-quality experiences.
Ready to tackle 2017? We are too! Let’s grow together.