Predicting the future accurately is no easy task. Making predictions on the future of marketing is particularly difficult, as the discipline has experienced an unprecedented level of technological upheaval in recent years. Still, looking into the proverbial crystal ball is often a fun exercise, and a way to stay ahead of the curve.
Recently, our EMEA team put together a list of the top digital marketing trends for next year, and it inspired us to think more critically about what 2016 will mean for our clients and the industry as a whole.
For some thoughtful, bold, marketing-based predictions to add to the conversation, I turned to our three Olapic co-founders for their unique insights. Luis Sanz, Pau Sabria, and Jose De Cabo are primarily tasked with growing our value to better serve clients, and have been at the forefront of marketing technology trends over the past five years. I asked each of them to share a few predictions for 2016 [Note: We will plan to revisit these at the end of the year to see just how prophetic they were!]
1) Visual User-Generated Content (UGC) will become the norm, not the exception
Olapic began as a visual UGC platform connecting brands with their consumers. We’ve seen consistent growth over the past few years, and believe 2016 is when the use of visual UGC will get over the hump. If you think of the typical adoption curve, the innovators got there a couple of years ago, 2015 was the year of the early adopters and 2016 will go to the early majority.
2) Luxury and prestige brands in 2016 will be part of the early majority and embrace UGC for niche campaigns
They have thus far been more reluctant to jump into the fold given their more crafted brand personas and focus on high-quality and lux creative. However, with the increased quality of UGC and growing skillset of amateur content creators, they will realize the value and begin getting involved. This trend was touched on by a recent New York Times’ article.
3) Video won’t become mainstream yet…
…but it will be the main innovation focus. Almost all of the big social players are putting a lot of emphasis on video with Facebook and Twitter launching native video uploading capabilities, but most user-generated video content still isn’t good enough for marketing purposes, so innovators will continue playing with it and improving, but it won’t yet be widely adopted.
4) 2016 will be the year of the integrations
Marketing providers have spent a ton of money building sophisticated systems around different channels, gathering big data and looking at it, and this is the year they’ll try to put all this data and these systems to work by connecting them all together. Every major marketing vendor already has a strategy around this, and this is the year we’ll see them pan out.
5) Rights Management and Community Rewards will become a key requirement for brands
As is typically the case, technological innovation happens too quickly for regulation to catch up to it. Visual marketing and the proliferation of user-generated content is no exception. In 2016, brands will need to become more adept at entering agreements with their consumers, and working together to craft public messaging. In addition, they will create more concrete programs to reward consumers that become their most trusted brand ambassadors.
6) Brands will tap into their own employee base for content creation
User-generated will also include employee-generated. Brands have in recent years spent a lot of resources to build the profiles of brand ambassadors, without working to activate the audience that should be representing the brand most effectively: employees. This will change in 2016 as brands use employees to build the foundation for their content success.
7) Instagram will cap the reach from brands like they did with Facebook, and charge for it
After all, the platform is owned by Facebook, and as UGC continues its upward trajectory, brands will be willing to pay to extend their reach.
8) Social commerce (aka buy buttons) will not have large adoption as integrations required are more complex than people think
In theory, social commerce was really exciting for brands, especially in the retail/travel sector that have large, engaged social followings. But the technology behind it is difficult, and it still is easier to control the full buying experience on a platform owned by the brand itself.
9) New types of media will populate the spectrum between photos and videos
All visual marketing assets will continue to grow, of course, but in-between media will become more mainstream than ever before. 2016 will be the year of “betweens” such as cinemagraphs, Apple’s moving pictures, flipagrams, etc.
10) Advertisers will begin launching more above-the-line campaigns based on real people
This includes using media from UGC and earned content in “traditional” advertising like television and print. Examples of this are already popping up: see Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos commercial and Olive Garden’s “Home” commercial.
We’re looking forward to realizing some of these predictions next year, and helping brands to capitalize on the visual marketing revolution. What are your predictions for next year? From all of us at Olapic, we wish you a happy new year, and continued success in 2016 and beyond!