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Online budgets are getting bigger to more accurately reflect consumer behaviour, but so are ROI expectations.

And some new technologies which promise to bring us closer to our customer, arguably push us further away.

How is the ad tech landscape changing in 2016? And what tactics can we expect to boom?

Marketer priorities in a challenging ad tech landscape

2015 brought us programmatic retargeting, which results in great engagement but requires viewability to be closely monitored. Coupled with the rise of ad-blockers, it’s arguably getting harder to get in front of the people that matter.

This is the challenging ad-tech landscape we find ourselves in.

We know that priorities have shifted over the last 12 months as digital marketers strive to use ‘tiny data’ to better understand their audiences on an individual level. According to Marin research, the top priorities for 2016 for UK-based digital marketing managers are:

  1. Creating campaigns based on deeper understanding of audiences (up one place from 2014).
  2. Effective scaling of campaigns across social media channels (new entry in the top five).
  3. Cross-channel digital marketing (up two places from last year).
  4. Better integration of online and offline marketing efforts (new entry in the top five).
  5. Better integration of digital marketing disciplines (down one place).

The question all marketers should ask themselves is what will the use of granular data mean for the consumer? In the constantly evolving advertising landscape, what are the platforms which are going to have an impact on marketers this year and how can they work together?

Booming ad tactics?

1. Native ads

Ads which look and feel like editorial content have been around for a few years now. However, with Bing recently announcing it will also host content of this type within its platform the use of ads which offer a more seamless experience is sure to increase.

native ad

2. Personal Digital Assistants

From Cortana to Siri, operating systems are becoming more ‘intelligent’.

As consumers increasingly rely on their digital personal assistants, these could be a great place for brands to reach potential customers. We have already started to see this happen within instant message applications.

3. Virtual reality and the IoT

A fridge which knows you need to buy more milk is very impressive. But a fridge which knows which brand you normally buy and which are currently on offer at the supermarket has the power to revolutionise the way everyone shops.

The internet of things might not quite get there in 2016 but it’s certainly coming and brands need to be ready to make the most of it.

iot fridge

4. Intent data

By using product feeds, Shopping campaigns (Google & Bing) and Dynamic Product Ads, advertisers are able to attract the attention of consumers by serving ads that relates to their intent to buy.

Couple this intent with the potential addition of highly-engaging video within search results and the SEM space is set to get a whole new lease of life in 2016.   

5. Moment marketing

It’s vital to reach your target audience at the right time – the specific moments when engagement levels are high. This can be achieved by instantly tailoring your online advertising to what’s going on in the offline world such as the weather or the stock market.

Warc and Deloitte believe marketing based on contextual factors will be the biggest trend this year. In fact, the first ever detailed analysis of UK spend on contextual data strategies from TVTY found 23% of digital budgets are spent on moment marketing with over two thirds of brands planning to increase spend.

6. Mirrored campaigns

Facebook’s look-a-like approach and Google Customer Match prove the willingness of brands to use their first party data at scale. Now, brands can reach new audiences who share similar interests and it’s easier to replicate one campaign across multiple channels.

I predict that this approach goes further in 2016 to encompass display strategies.

Personalized journeys

Digital marketers and CMOs have an opportunity to bring these new approaches together and supercharge the influence of one campaign across an individual’s customer journey to deliver a personalised experience which is easy to engage with.

As soon as the value of first party customer data is better realised, the better for marketing efforts as a whole. 


Published 28 March, 2016 by Stephanie Carr

Stephanie is Vice President, EMEA at Marin Software. You can follow the company on Twitter or connect with Stephanie on LinkedIn.

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