Mobile Marketing Trends 2016: 50 Experts On The Future of Apps, Ads & Search

50 mobile mar­ket­ing experts weigh in on 2016 trends – user expe­ri­ence, loca­tion, video, voice, ad block­ing, app index­ing, and more.

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 8 comments

Terms like “the Year of Mobile” and “mobile-first” have become easy jokes for speak­ers at dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing con­fer­ences – and for good rea­son. 2015 was the year mobile search­es for­ev­er sur­passed desk­top queries, but what’s in store for 2016?

Momen­tol­ogy sur­veyed 50 mar­ket­ing experts from brands, agen­cies, and mobile firms to get their takes on what lies ahead for mobile mar­ket­ing in the com­ing year.

First and fore­most, these experts say mar­keters will use mobile to cre­ate bet­ter, more per­son­al­ized user expe­ri­ences in 2016 and to cement cus­tomer loy­al­ty.

In addi­tion, they antic­i­pate more loca­tion-based efforts to coin­cide with a con­tin­ued rise in local search.

Mar­ket­ing pros also think we’ll see much more aug­ment­ed and vir­tu­al real­i­ty in mobile mar­ket­ing, as well as video, includ­ing livestreams, 360-degree videos, and shop­pable videos.

Oth­er tech­nol­o­gy to look out for in mobile mar­ket­ing in 2016: mobile wal­lets, vir­tu­al per­son­al assis­tants and even push noti­fi­ca­tions. Ad block­ing will con­tin­ue to be a big buzz­word in 2016 and mar­keters will have to incor­po­rate app index­ing to ensure apps are dis­cov­er­able via organ­ic search.

For fur­ther insight into mobile mar­ket­ing in 2016, their com­ments fol­low in full.


Tressie Lieberman, Vice President of Digital Innovation and On Demand, Taco Bell

Tressie Lieberman Taco Bell Ease is the new loy­al­ty. We have seen such a huge rise in mobile usage because it makes life eas­i­er. You can now get any­thing you want with the tap of a but­ton. We are becom­ing loy­al to the brands that are smart­ly using tech­nol­o­gy to sim­pli­fy every aspect of our lives. The brands that do it best will cre­ate expe­ri­ences that have you ask­ing how you ever lived with­out them.

We view mobile as our flag­ship restau­rant. More than a trans­ac­tion, but a tai­lored and cus­tomized expe­ri­ence that’s tied to pref­er­ence and access from any­where at any time. By doing this, you can take the bur­den of over­whelm­ing choice off of the con­sumer and guide them to make the best deci­sions in the sim­plest way pos­si­ble.

With the consumer’s best inter­est at the fore­front of the con­ve­nient expe­ri­ence, you’ll gain their trust and loy­al­ty in 2016.

Ram Krishnan, Chief Marketing Officer, Frito-Lay

Ram Krishnan Frito Lay User expe­ri­ence

We’ll see a fun­da­men­tal shift in the way mar­keters think about mobile. The tra­di­tion­al mod­el of “sell­ing” – where we might use ban­ners or pre-roll ads – is enor­mous­ly detri­men­tal to the mobile user expe­ri­ence. The expe­ri­ence on such a small screen is sacred. That’s why we’re see­ing wide­spread adop­tion of ad block­ers. We should be think­ing about how we can bet­ter serve our audi­ences on mobile – what is the util­i­ty we as mar­keters can pro­vide? Is it in the form of an app? Is it in the form of enter­tain­ing con­tent? We’re all still fig­ur­ing out, but mov­ing for­ward, when it comes to mobile, we should be think­ing of how we can serve our cus­tomers, not sell to them.

E‑commerce inte­gra­tion

But if you are sell­ing, apps and mobile-first social plat­forms will seam­less­ly inte­grate e‑commerce. As mobile users are explor­ing and find­ing inspi­ra­tion, it will con­tin­ue to become eas­i­er to pur­chase the items right then and there, such as Pinterest’s Buyable Pins and Shop­pable Insta­gram, which is pow­ered by visu­al mar­ket­ing plat­form Olapic.

Small­er social net­works

In addi­tion, social net­works are get­ting small­er, if the behav­ioral shift to mes­sag­ing plat­forms – and Facebook’s $19 bil­lion acqui­si­tion of What­sApp – is any indi­ca­tion. We don’t feel the need to broad­cast quite as broad­ly any­more.

Small­er, more pri­vate mes­sag­ing net­works like Snapchat are on the rise. Even on Insta­gram – there’s a phe­nom­e­non now called “Fin­sta­gram­ming” among teenagers. These Fin­sta­gram accounts are actu­al­ly sec­ond Insta­gram accounts that are restrict­ed to close friends; it’s a place where teens can post more freely. We want to keep our per­son­al lives more per­son­al.

And as we look at mes­sag­ing plat­forms like Kik and WeChat, we’re see­ing all sorts of fea­tures being added into the mes­sag­ing lay­er, from one-on-one brand inter­ac­tions, com­merce, payments…all sorts of real­ly, real­ly inter­est­ing devel­op­ments that have wide­spread impli­ca­tions on busi­ness­es every­where.


Mobile-first com­pa­nies have com­plete­ly rede­fined our expec­ta­tions when it comes to mobile – they’ve trained us to demand imme­di­a­cy and seam­less­ness. When we think of mobile, we expect the amaz­ing expe­ri­ence that we get from an Uber, or a Google or a Ven­mo. To some extent, as mar­keters, we are all suf­fer­ing from Uber envy because of the way they’ve com­plete­ly recal­i­brat­ed what con­sumers demand of their mobile expe­ri­ences.


With the rise of Ocu­lus and Sam­sung Gear, aug­ment­ed real­i­ty and vir­tu­al real­i­ty pow­ered by mobile will be a big trend. Expect brands to part­ner with vir­tu­al real­i­ty stu­dios to cre­ate new expe­ri­ences unlocked through prod­uct and pack­ag­ing.

Ad Block­ing

The rise of ad block­ing is large­ly a response to two major con­sumer con­cerns: pri­va­cy and intru­sive­ness. While ad block­ing has been around for years, the adop­tion has been slow — only 16 per­cent of the online U.S. pop­u­la­tion blocked ads last quar­ter.

If adop­tion of the tech­nol­o­gy con­tin­ues to increase sig­nif­i­cant­ly, there will be an impact on inven­to­ry avail­able to brands. Con­se­quent­ly, CPMs could be impact­ed due to low­ered sup­ply – sim­i­lar to what we have seen with infla­tion on TV. As a result, we will also see in-app adver­tis­ing favored; but giv­en con­sump­tion habits, this is where we are see­ing time spent shift as well.

Sam Olstein, Global Director of Innovation, GE

GE Director Sam Olstein I think one trend is def­i­nite­ly the con­tin­ued pro­lif­er­a­tion of mes­sag­ing and how mes­sag­ing ser­vices and mes­sag­ing plat­forms are cre­at­ing val­ue and dis­rupt­ing the indus­try where you wouldn’t think a mes­sag­ing plat­form belongs, like in the pro­fes­sion­al set­ting. And I think we’ll con­tin­ue to see more either some­body who has been dom­i­nat­ing this year like Slack take off to anoth­er lev­el or Facebook’s Mes­sen­ger ser­vice or What­sApp try to make anoth­er play that changes the dynam­ics of play­ers in that space.

I also think in gen­er­al, mobile tech­nol­o­gy will con­tin­ue to dis­rupt many dif­fer­ent indus­tries from per­spec­tives that prob­a­bly peo­ple in those indus­tries wouldn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly expect or plan for. Think about every­thing that’s hap­pen­ing in [finan­cial tech­nol­o­gy] over the last year, those inno­va­tions will only con­tin­ue to grow and accelerate…[and are poten­tial­ly] very, very dis­rup­tive to some of the tra­di­tion­al stal­warts of sec­tors like finance that they weren’t quite expect­ing.


Ryan Jones, Manager of Search Strategy and Analytics, SapientNitroRyan Jones Sapient Nitro

Two things should be on the mind of every­body doing mobile: App index­ing for your apps, and Google’s AMP plat­form for your mobile site.

Shepherd Laughlin, Director of Trend Forecasting for J. Walter Thompson’s Innovation Group

Shepherd Laughlin of JWT Apple’s embrace of ad-block­ing capa­bil­i­ties in iOS 9 is rip­ping up the play­book in mobile adver­tis­ing. As con­sumers grow more accus­tomed to the mobile web, they are increas­ing­ly frus­trat­ed with tra­di­tion­al pop-up and ban­ner adver­tis­ing that inter­rupts their expe­ri­ence.

Apple’s move rec­og­nizes that many con­sumers already use ad-block­ing soft­ware and that pre­vent­ing this behav­ior will be impos­si­ble in the long term. iOS 9 is going to force mobile pub­lish­ers to work much more close­ly with adver­tis­ers to pro­duce native adver­tis­ing that con­sumers real­ly, tru­ly want to see.

Rather than putting mar­ket­ing mes­sages up front, spon­sor­ship on these new native ads will be taste­ful­ly inte­grat­ed and links to pur­chase will be sub­tle, log­i­cal exten­sions of the con­tent. The slow effort to rethink the rela­tion­ship between adver­tis­ing and edi­to­r­i­al that has been under­way for sev­er­al years will real­ly ramp up for mobile plat­forms in 2016 due to Apple’s deci­sion.

Vir­tu­al real­i­ty is a trend we see emerg­ing across tech and cul­ture in 2016 — we’re see­ing artists and oth­ers out­side the gam­ing world embrace this tech­nol­o­gy and buzz will only increase with the release of the con­sumer ver­sion of Ocu­lus Rift in 2016. With Google Card­board, Sam­sung Gear VR and oth­ers, mobile is pro­vid­ing an acces­si­ble point of entry for con­sumers inter­est­ed in try­ing out vir­tu­al real­i­ty. Due to the nov­el­ty of the tech­nol­o­gy, view­ers are quite open to con­sum­ing any sort of con­tent – includ­ing brand­ed con­tent – if it lever­ages these plat­forms in an effec­tive and impres­sive way.

Com­bin­ing the these two trends, in Novem­ber, the New York Times rolled out its first vir­tu­al real­i­ty app with con­tent from both edi­to­r­i­al and the T Brand Stu­dio. It includ­ed a sto­ry in which GE explained how its work is inspired by the nat­ur­al world while view­ers are immersed in a rapid­ly chang­ing fan­ta­sy land­scape and an ad for Mini that took the form of a VR car heist fea­tur­ing the company’s vehi­cles. The con­tent was taste­ful­ly placed along­side jour­nal­is­tic VR pieces on the Euro­pean refugee cri­sis and the Paris ter­ror attacks.

Andy White, Social Media Director, 180LA

Andy White 180LA There isn’t mobile mar­ket­ing in 2016, there’s just mar­ket­ing. It’s one and the same.

Face­book’s mobile usage hit 80 per­cent almost a year ago and with Face­book Video Live com­ing, the growth oppor­tu­ni­ties with video will only grow and the demands on mar­keters, too.

Web­sites that don’t offer a mobile option are a rel­ic of the past. To try to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between the two is to ignore the fact that your audi­ence slips between tra­di­tion­al and mobile seam­less­ly and demands the same of your mar­ket­ing.

In terms of mobile video, devel­op­ments move so fast that it’s strange to con­sid­er that this time last year, Meerkat and Periscope had­n’t even launched. It seems ridicu­lous­ly peren­ni­al to say that 2016 will be “The Year of the Video,” but with this new­found free­dom to live­cast any­thing and every­thing, any mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive that does­n’t have a live video com­po­nent attached will quick­ly feel extreme­ly sta­t­ic.

Jeremy Lockhorn, Vice President of Emerging Experiences and Mobile Lead, Razorfish

Jeremy Lockhorn of Razorfish The impor­tance of con­text will con­tin­ue to grow. The mobile phone already knows so much about its user, enabling it to deliv­er extreme­ly rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion and expe­ri­ences at the right time in the right place.

Tech­nolo­gies that enable even more accu­rate and pre­cise loca­tion iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, like bea­cons, will make this even more pow­er­ful. We’re only begin­ning to see the full impli­ca­tions of these tech­nolo­gies. Con­sumers will increas­ing­ly expect con­text-dri­ven expe­ri­ences from their mobile devices and mar­keters who do not deliv­er will risk alien­at­ing key audi­ences.

A relat­ed trend will be usage growth of vir­tu­al per­son­al assis­tants like Siri, Google Now, Cor­tana, etc. These sys­tems will lever­age con­tex­tu­al cues from the device plus nat­ur­al lan­guage pro­cess­ing and ever-increas­ing arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence capa­bil­i­ties to pre­dict a user’s needs and deliv­er info before being asked.

Mar­keters will con­tin­ue to beat the drum on the impor­tance of viewa­bil­i­ty and com­bat­ting ad fraud. Indus­try orga­ni­za­tions are active­ly pur­su­ing stan­dards here. Mobile will take cen­ter stage. Peo­ple-based mar­ket­ing will con­tin­ue to grow as a solu­tion to mobile’s ad-serv­ing and track­ing chal­lenges. Cross-device track­ing and mea­sure­ment will fol­low as well, begin­ning to give mar­keters full vis­i­bil­i­ty into undu­pli­cat­ed reach and fre­quen­cy across TV, desk­top and mobile.

Vir­tu­al and aug­ment­ed real­i­ty point toward the next gen­er­a­tion of the human/computer inter­face. It’s ear­ly days yet, and even if Samsung’s Gear VR sold out quick­ly, one has a hard time imag­in­ing that a tech­nol­o­gy that requires a con­sumer to strap an awk­ward-look­ing mask to their face will ever go ful­ly main­stream (though stranger things have hap­pened). And regard­less of con­sumer adop­tion in 2016, these tech­nolo­gies are unlock­ing mag­i­cal new expe­ri­ences for peo­ple.

Long term, it has the poten­tial to ush­er in entire­ly new ways to expe­ri­ence con­tent (turn­ing dig­i­tal con­tent into a true expe­ri­ence) and to com­mu­ni­cate with one anoth­er. I think 2016 will be a year of con­tin­ued exper­i­men­ta­tion from a mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive. Suc­cess sto­ries from the likes of Mar­riott, Abso­lut, HBO and more will inspire addi­tion­al (like­ly most­ly event-dri­ven) test pro­grams in 2016.

And even as mobile OS wars inten­si­fy, walls are crum­bling. Apple released an Apple Music app for Android. Microsoft is test­ing Cor­tana on both Android and iOS, etc. As hard­ware inno­va­tion begins to plateau, soft­ware and ser­vices become key dif­fer­en­tia­tors, cre­at­ing inter­est­ing cross-plat­form mod­els and oppor­tu­ni­ties.

Jonathan Hunt, Senior Account Lead of SEO, PMG

Jonathan Hunt PMG Bigger As we con­tin­ue to make advance­ments in cross-device tar­get­ing and geo-loca­tion, it’s increas­ing­ly impor­tant that we address the oth­er side of the coin. We’re focus­ing so much on who is on mobile, we need to also address how peo­ple are using mobile. So far, we’ve defined mobile user behav­ior based on out­dat­ed cri­te­ria, invent­ed in the ear­ly days of desk­top ecom­merce.

The mobile customer’s path to con­ver­sion is both broad­er and much quick­er than the tra­di­tion­al desk­top user. Smart­phones are uti­lized to com­ple­ment and assist in more offline tasks than any oth­er device pre­vi­ous­ly. With many inter­ac­tions tak­ing less than 10 to 20 sec­onds each, how do you get your mes­sage across? How do you com­plete a con­ver­sion when your cus­tomer only has 30 sec­onds to do some­thing, but your check­out process takes 60 sec­onds to com­plete?

In 2016, it will become para­mount for us to account for that broad­en­ing of cus­tomer behav­ior in our dig­i­tal strat­e­gy. More than ever, we have to be able to find ways to fit our brands into our cus­tomers’ sto­ries, not pull them into ours.

Brent Rangen, Director of Search, Outsmart Labs

Brent Rangen Outsmart Labs Voice Assis­tant Search

Per­son­al­ly, I’m not very reliant on appli­ca­tions such as Siri, Cor­tana or even Google Now. How­ev­er, with heavy invest­ment – and as these sort of appli­ca­tions are built into the core func­tion­al­i­ty of mobile devices and even oper­at­ing sys­tems — it’s going to be as impor­tant as ever to ensure busi­ness­es rank here as well. Still main­ly geared towards local search, ensur­ing NAP con­sis­ten­cy and tick­ing all oth­er local rank­ing fac­tors with high qual­i­ty, con­sis­tent sig­nals is the smart play.

Deep App Index­ing

The process is sim­i­lar to pages on a web­site rank­ing, except search engines apply this to mobile apps. With over 3 mil­lion apps between Play and Apple’s mar­ket­places alone, there are many oppor­tu­ni­ties for apps to start tak­ing over web­site rank­ings in mobile SERPs. We’ve even heard addi­tion­al ben­e­fits will be giv­en to those rank­ing with Google’s App Index­ing API.

What­ev­er the tac­tics involved with tak­ing advan­tage of mobile in 2016, the most impor­tant things are going to always be to ensure prop­er track­ing and attri­bu­tion across all dig­i­tal prop­er­ties. From that point on, focus on per­for­mance and vis­i­bil­i­ty for mobile expe­ri­ences. Last­ly, opti­mize heav­i­ly for local as it is inte­gral to most mobile envi­ron­ments.

Andrew Beckman, Chairman, Location3 Media

Andrew Beckman Location3 We believe that 2016 will be the year that mar­keters final­ly take hold of cross-device mar­ket­ing strate­gies in order to cap­ture the atten­tion of con­sumers in a dig­i­tal world that is con­sis­tent­ly derived of micro-moments, as Google first acknowl­edged in 2015.

Users con­tin­ue to move between mobile devices, some­times simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, while they go about their every­day lives. Reach­ing these users requires sophis­ti­cat­ed tar­get­ing on a local­ized lev­el in order to con­nect with con­sumers dur­ing the research, val­i­da­tion and deci­sion-mak­ing phas­es of the pur­chase process.

Fur­ther­more, we believe that local intent on the part of con­sumers will become an even big­ger fac­tor in mobile mar­ket­ing. The rise of “near me” search­es on mobile gives cre­dence to the notion that mobile users often have a high­er degree of pur­chase intent when they are search­ing for infor­ma­tion about a prod­uct or busi­ness on a mobile device. If mar­keters aren’t pre­pared to reach them dur­ing those high prob­a­bil­i­ty pur­chas­ing moments and then deliv­er a qual­i­ty user expe­ri­ence on mobile devices, they’re going to see their tar­get cus­tomers land in the hands of the com­pe­ti­tion.

Mobile mar­ket­ing in 2016 is all about con­nect­ing with the con­sumer on a local lev­el, and deliv­er­ing the right mes­sage at the right time, in order to cap­ture their hard-earned dol­lars.

Mel Carson, CEO and Principal Strategy Consultant, Delightful Communications

Mel Carson Delightful Sharp­en­ing your mes­sage and tar­get­ing it with laser focus on mobile devices is going to be even more impor­tant in 2016. A recent study from Pew Research says we’re feel­ing bad about using smart­phones in social set­tings and cer­tain­ly my cir­cle of friends is lim­it­ing phone use across the fam­i­ly to have more “real” time with each oth­er.

Giv­en all the talk about moment mar­ket­ing from the likes of Google and Face­book cou­pled with con­sumers appear­ing to desire more human con­nec­tions, we could see more con­sid­ered mobile usage and so the need to cre­ate even more per­son­al­ized and time­ly cam­paigns becomes para­mount for brands to do well in 2016.

Erin Sagin, Customer Success Manager, WordStream

Erin Sagin Wordstream The pop­u­lar­i­ty of mobile search will con­tin­ue to grow in 2016. As this space becomes more promi­nent, it’s crit­i­cal that mar­keters under­stand the con­text in which these search­es hap­pen and adapt their strate­gies accord­ing­ly.

Mobile search­es usu­al­ly occur in dras­ti­cal­ly dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios than desk­top search­es. Mobile users tend to be mul­ti­task­ing — they’re search­ing while they’re on the go, watch­ing TV or hang­ing out with friends. This con­text, cou­pled with the fact that the human atten­tion span is rapid­ly declin­ing, pos­es a unique chal­lenge for adver­tis­ers.

Accord­ing to a study con­duct­ed by Microsoft in 2013, the aver­age adult’s atten­tion span is 8 sec­onds long. Now imag­ine one of these eas­i­ly dis­tract­ed peo­ple try­ing to find and pur­chase your prod­ucts on a mobile device. Con­sid­er how many dis­trac­tions they encounter on their phone while doing so (push noti­fi­ca­tions, emails, text mes­sages). Now, fac­tor in offline dis­trac­tions. In such a fast-paced envi­ron­ment, it’s a won­der any­one actu­al­ly man­ages to fol­low through with a con­ver­sion!

If you’re spend­ing con­sid­er­able resources on mobile paid search, this is a con­cern­ing phe­nom­e­non. How can you ensure that the traf­fic you’ve worked so hard to attain actu­al­ly fol­lows through and con­verts?

The key is to engage them ear­ly on. Use unique ad for­mats and exten­sions to encour­age prospects to take action from direct­ly with­in the results page. Once they’ve made this ini­tial invest­ment, they’ll be far more like­ly to fol­low through and con­vert.

In fact, even AdWords has acknowl­edged that adver­tis­ers need more secret weapons to hold mobile users’ atten­tion. In 2015, Google released new mobile ad for­mats for four indus­tries, designed specif­i­cal­ly to meet their searchers’ needs.

For exam­ple, hote­liers can now serve mobile ads that include var­i­ous pho­tos of their grounds and ameni­ties, cus­tomer rat­ings and reviews and book­ing infor­ma­tion. Googlers have hint­ed that unique ads are like­ly to be released for more indus­tries in 2016 and I’m eager­ly await­ing their release!

Jonathan Adams, Chief Digital Officer, Maxus

Jonathan Adams Maxus Mobile has been and will con­tin­ue to chal­lenge media agen­cies to think more about both new datasets and new walled gar­dens.

These devel­op­ments are dri­ving the cre­ativ­i­ty and the strat­e­gy that needs to be applied to new mar­ket­ing con­tent. For exam­ple, new datasets not only show some­one’s cur­rent loca­tion, but also pro­vide more details like where they are head­ed, at what speed and via what method.

Walled gar­dens — like Face­book Mes­sen­ger, Snapchat Dis­cov­er and Twit­ter Moments — will con­tin­ue to push agen­cies to embrace new crevices to align and adapt to with their mar­ket­ing and con­tent.

Mobile has also made voice tech­nol­o­gy incred­i­bly rel­e­vant. With IoT, we see every­one these days already speak­ing to Siri or their Google app. It’s amaz­ing how fast we’ve seen voice enter the main­stream, so we can expect voice to dou­ble in use again in 2016 and to find its way into cars and appli­ances — and mar­ket­ing will be there.

Daniel Cristo, Director of SEO Innovation, Catalyst

Daniel Cristo Catalyst I’m see­ing quite a strong push by mobile devel­op­ers and agen­cies to inte­grate deep link­ing and in-app SEO best prac­tices into new apps. We’re hear­ing that search engines are focus­ing on mak­ing app list­ings much more vis­i­ble with­in tra­di­tion­al search results, so I expect 2016 to sur­prise many busi­ness­es who did­n’t expect to be com­pet­ing against apps with­in tra­di­tion­al SERPs.

I’m also fore­see­ing com­pa­nies plac­ing a greater empha­sis in app-exclu­sive con­tent. Con­tent has always been a major lure in cap­tur­ing atten­tion and offer­ing exclu­sive con­tent to app users will encour­age web users to try a com­pa­ny’s app.

One iter­a­tion of this was Ama­zon dur­ing Black Fri­day. Not only did Ama­zon have the same Black Fri­day deals in-app as on its site, but it also had app-only deals.

Mean­while, con­tent providers like Buz­zFeed, Face­book and YouTube are sign­ing con­tent cre­ators to exclu­siv­i­ty con­tracts in order to dif­fer­en­ti­ate their plat­forms. Expect some of that pre­mi­um con­tent to be used to reward the app-only com­mu­ni­ty.

There are some excit­ing things on the hori­zon such as bea­cons and VR, but I don’t think we’ll see them in the main­stream mar­ket­ing cam­paigns in 2016.

Andrew Smith, Director, Escherman

andrew-smith In 2015, Ofcom offi­cial­ly declared that the UK was a smart­phone soci­ety. Two-thirds of peo­ple now own a smart­phone, using it for near­ly two hours every day to browse the Inter­net, access social media, bank and shop online. This is only set to rise in 2016 and beyond. And clear­ly this has impli­ca­tions for every aspect of the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing mix.

The key goal for dig­i­tal mar­keters will be to stop the swipe. Unless your con­tent enters a user’s social media feed, there is no chance of engage­ment. Even if you do, you have to some­how per­suade peo­ple to stop swip­ing up (or down) and do some­thing in their 8‑second atten­tion span (yes, that’s less than a gold­fish).

For SEO, unless you occu­py a top 3 slot in search results, chances are peo­ple won’t swipe up or down to check for addi­tion­al results. And if your site isn’t mobile friend­ly in the eyes of Google, then you won’t appear any­way.

The small screen real estate of the smart­phone is the key mar­ket­ing bat­tle­ground of 2016. Ignore this fact at your per­il.

Kyle Reyes, President and CEO, The Silent Partner Marketing

Kyle Reyes of Silent Partner Apple and a num­ber of apps will make a heavy push towards a slight­ly more ad-free ecosys­tem. This means that mar­keters and adver­tis­ers are going to have to get crafty to tai­lor that mes­sag­ing towards con­sumers in a space where ads have more of a pre­mi­um.

Live video stream­ing will become more pow­er­ful and more pop­u­lar, as we see ris­ing stars like Blab give even Periscope and Meerkat a run for their mon­ey. I would be sur­prised if we don’t see Face­book Men­tions expand beyond ver­i­fied indi­vid­u­als (or at least see Face­book open the ver­i­fi­ca­tion sta­tus to more indi­vid­u­als). As Face­book adjusts its algo­rithm to wel­come more “right now” trends and video, we’ll see this explode.

360-degree video should real­ly boom in 2016 as we see the cost of the cam­eras drop sig­nif­i­cant­ly with more play­ers enter­ing the mar­ket. Stronger edit­ing soft­ware will make it more rel­e­vant and the inte­gra­tion with both YouTube and Face­book will be a game chang­er.

Winston Burton, VP of SEO, Acronym

Winston Burton Acronym In 2016, brands will fig­ure out how to improve mobile con­ver­sions rates since users don’t con­vert well on mobile.

Brands will also redesign mobile sites with user expe­ri­ence in mind. Cur­rent­ly a lot of mobile sites are not focused on the user expe­ri­ence and intent and this will change with Google’s plac­ing more impor­tance on user expe­ri­ence.

Apps will show more reg­u­lar­ly in the search results and brands need to make sure they have an app and the app is get­ting indexed due to the dom­i­nance of mobile search and usage of mobile. Some brands are also push­ing apps only for com­merce and rely­ing less on a web­site.

Aaron Levy, Manager of Client Strategy, Elite SEM

Aaron Levy Elite SEM The key to mobile suc­cess in 2016 and beyond will be a renewed focus on mobile user expe­ri­ence beyond the device; sim­ply going respon­sive has­n’t worked in the past and it won’t work going for­ward.

Gen­er­al­ly the con­ver­sion rate for mobile web hov­ers around one-third of com­put­er-based sites. Mar­keters track suc­cess on met­rics that feel forced and unnat­ur­al. It’s not that users don’t want our prod­ucts on the go, it’s that brands forc­ing them (and track­ing their expe­ri­ences) into a walled gar­den where they don’t want to be.

Suc­cess will be found in pre­sent­ing expe­ri­ences in a way that users want to expe­ri­ence. App deep link­ing, while a huge under­tak­ing, will be cru­cial for max­i­miz­ing mobile effi­cien­cy. You spent copi­ous mon­ey to make that app work and get users to down­load it, now you have to make sure they hit that expe­ri­ence dur­ing every sin­gle brand inter­ac­tion to accom­plish the goal they set out to.

Besides just opti­miz­ing the expe­ri­ence on the device, mar­keters need to remem­ber that at the core, mobile devices are a means to an end else­where. Google (and oth­er engines) have made no secret with their mar­ket­ing efforts, focus­ing on the rise in “near me” and direc­tion­al search­es as well as launch­ing store vis­it track­ing pro­grams of their own. Focus­ing on mobile-to-store track­ing will ensure the brand expe­ri­ence we cre­ate is val­ued and cap­tured at the point of sale.

Joe Scartz, Managing Director of Digital Commerce and Integration, TPN

Joe Scartz TPN Bea­con net­works will grow, but also expect prox­im­i­ty-based mes­sag­ing via app net­works to pro­vide CPGs and brands a way to inter­act in a rel­e­vant way with con­sumers in-store.

Brands will explore new and inter­est­ing ways to load mobile wal­lets with loy­al­ty cards, offers and oth­er objects that dri­ve acti­va­tion and engage­ment.

Social adver­tis­ing will con­tin­ue to focus on mobile as a way to serve native expe­ri­ence ads that will dri­ve the con­sumer clos­er to the point of sale on mobile via ecom­merce ads on Face­book, Pin­ter­est, etc.

Exper­i­men­ta­tion with vir­tu­al real­i­ty will catch adver­tis­ers’ imag­i­na­tions in terms of devel­op­ing expe­ri­ences that lever­age mobile devices and items like Google Card­board, VR apps, etc.  Apple just bought a VR com­pa­ny in the last month.  Expect more from them fur­ther out.

Google will index app con­tent and allow users to tri­al apps before down­load­ing them. In essence, Google looks to move beyond the app store and once again index infor­ma­tion, this time mobile expe­ri­ences.

Mike Puffer, Senior Director of Mobile Solutions and Strategy, HelloWorld

Michael Puffer HelloWorld The inter­sec­tion and inte­gra­tion of mobile expe­ri­ences, pro­mo­tions and loy­al­ty will con­tin­ue to take hold as the focal point for many brand strate­gies. The invest­ment in seam­less mobile-first expe­ri­ences that reward cus­tomers for their engage­ment, repeat pur­chas­es and advo­ca­cy will cap­ture a larg­er and larg­er slice of 2016 mar­ket­ing bud­gets.

Brands like Wal­mart, Star­bucks, Taco Bell, Delta and Macy’s have built long-term loy­al­ty app strate­gies and are bet­ting big know­ing that the util­i­ty of mobile, the engage­ment of pro­mo­tions, and the rela­tion­ships cre­at­ed through loy­al­ty pro­grams can unlock the sig­nif­i­cant incre­men­tal rev­enue and enhanced guest expe­ri­ences brands are reach­ing for.

These mobile loy­al­ty strate­gies will take prece­dence as the cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem for the gen­er­a­tion and uni­fi­ca­tion of con­sumer data and will offer brands the abil­i­ty to cre­ate jour­ney-dri­ven com­mu­ni­ca­tion strate­gies and cross-chan­nel con­sumer engage­ment.

Brands will ramp up their org/team restruc­tur­ing ini­tia­tives to bet­ter weave mobile into the core of their busi­ness­es as opposed to rely­ing on small mobile-focused experts act­ing in siloed depart­ments.

IoT will con­tin­ue to weave its way into mar­ket­ing strate­gies made up of an advanc­ing ecosys­tem of inter-con­nect­ed mobile tech­nolo­gies like bea­cons, mobile wal­lets and apps. Brands will get aggres­sive in their inno­va­tion with­in this ecosys­tem to sup­port more seam­less loca­tion and con­tex­tu­al­ly aware expe­ri­ences that will enable more con­ve­nience and util­i­ty for con­sumers. Think about the abil­i­ty to place an order on your mobile phone, pay for it, dri­ve to the loca­tion, have the store real­ize you have arrived and alert a store asso­ciate to deliv­er your order to your vehi­cle.

Brands will look to devel­op more mobile-first employ­ee rewards pro­grams that will deliv­er bite-size train­ing con­tent, boost employ­ee engage­ment and reward employ­ees for their suc­cess­ful behav­iors with dig­i­tal incen­tives.

Not for a lack of impor­tance, but rather due to many indus­try legal changes and tech­nol­o­gy advances, SMS mes­sag­ing strate­gies will be refo­cused on util­i­ty, trans­ac­tion­al and loy­al­ty com­mu­ni­ca­tions, while push noti­fi­ca­tions will take a stronger hold in the pro­mo­tion­al mobile mes­sag­ing chan­nel.

Nancy Harhut, CCO, Wilde Agency

Nancy Harhut of Wilde Agency Mar­keters will get bet­ter at under­stand­ing how peo­ple real­ly use their cell phones and will adapt their mobile mar­ket­ing strate­gies accord­ing­ly, ver­sus try­ing to foist cer­tain mobile behav­iors onto peo­ple.

Mar­keters will begin to take greater advan­tage of all the infor­ma­tion a cell phone can pro­vide (like the phone’s gyro­scope, its GPS and its abil­i­ty to know how fast you’re mov­ing, your heart rate and the music you’ve down­loaded) to cre­ate more per­son­al­ized mes­sages and expe­ri­ences.

Mar­keters will tap into vir­tu­al real­i­ty more often, as head­sets and video pro­duc­tion become more afford­able.

Peter Corbett, President, Click 3X

Peter Corbett of Click 3X While we have long prac­ticed a mobile-first phi­los­o­phy, we have been par­tic­u­lar­ly pas­sion­ate about the use of video in the mobile con­text. The pop­u­lar­i­ty of mobile video con­tin­ues to increase and will account for a stag­ger­ing 72 per­cent of total mobile data traf­fic by the end of 2019. User-gen­er­at­ed con­tent is also impor­tant, but even this ulti­mate­ly dri­ves to a lin­ear video piece. Some com­pa­nies like Snapchat are begin­ning to real­ly exper­i­ment with alter­nate, more engage­able for­mats and tech­nolo­gies.

We are par­tic­u­lar­ly focused on two areas, which we’ve called Beyond The Play But­ton. One is 360-degree mobile video, which is either stereo­scop­ic or via YouTube (and soon Face­book). The oth­er is being able to embed links with­in mobile video and even to cus­tomize each video on a per user basis. In our view, we need to real­ly engage a view­er not only with mag­net­ic con­tent on mobile, but mag­net­ic tech­nol­o­gy sur­round­ing the con­tent.

Anoth­er mobile trend is shop­pable video. The con­cept has been around for a while, but it is now eas­i­er to do on a mobile plat­form thanks to the updates of Android and iOS oper­at­ing sys­tems. And as YouTube soon makes all of its videos shop­pable, the con­sumer will come to expect a buy­ing capa­bil­i­ty in all brand videos. Even large retail chains are get­ting in on the trend. We recent­ly worked with Kmart to devel­op shop­pable videos that have con­sumers engag­ing in real-time.

Gary J. Nix, CSO, bdot

Gary Nix BDotDeep Link­ing

While this tech­nique has been used by oth­er apps, when plat­forms such as Snapchat enable deep link­ing for pub­lish­ers, this illus­trates an oppor­tu­ni­ty for brands to enhance con­sumers’ expe­ri­ences. Savvy brands who have cre­at­ed or cul­ti­vat­ed com­mu­ni­ties on these types of net­works must use this to the advan­tage of the com­mu­ni­ty to eas­i­ly pro­vide the con­tent that is desired, which is, among many things, a mar­ket­ing win.

Vir­tu­al and Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty

VR and AR are already being tout­ed as the dar­lings of 2016 and mobile devices can be the mech­a­nism that pro­vides high­er user adop­tion rates as opposed to the expen­sive, bulky meth­ods of deliv­ery that VR has been known for. With all of this hul­la­baloo regard­ing VR and AR, cou­pled with suc­cess­ful cam­paigns such as IHOP’s Aug­ment­ed Real­i­ty Games and mobile VR prod­ucts such as Google Card­board and Sam­sung Gear VR, it would behoove brands to invest some time and ener­gy join­ing con­sumers in the vir­tu­al and aug­ment­ed world. The brands that aren’t par­a­lyzed by fear and cre­ate qual­i­ty con­tent will win big.

Lauren Moores, Vice President of Strategy, Dstillery

Lauren Moores Dstillery Bea­cons

Prox­im­i­ty sig­nals from bea­cons and sen­sors will replace our cur­rent fas­ci­na­tion with loca­tion sig­nals derived from our mobile devices and GPS. Indoors, bea­cons can be more accu­rate than GPS, but devices and SDKs are still need­ed to pick up the broad­cast sig­nal com­ing from the bea­con. This doesn’t mean that our reliance on GPS loca­tion sig­nals for mobile mar­ket­ing sud­den­ly diverts to sen­sor data yet. Advances in bea­con tech­nol­o­gy and a growth in mar­keter aware­ness will make it a solu­tion that ear­ly adopters or new mar­keters incor­po­rate in their 2016 plans.

Mobile Prospect­ing

The abil­i­ty to grow a brand’s audi­ence comes from con­vert­ing prospects rather than retar­get­ing exist­ing cus­tomers. Mobile audi­ence mod­els will get more sophis­ti­cat­ed where we com­bine behav­ioral and geolo­ca­tion sig­nals to find new audi­ences on mobile devices. Cur­rent­ly, find­ing new audi­ences on mobile is lim­it­ed to a “birds of a feath­er flock together”-approach. New mod­els will extend the cur­rent behav­ioral machine learn­ing approach to mobile, find­ing new brand audi­ences based on the web, app and place behav­iors of exist­ing audi­ences.


The growth in wear­ables has played a huge role in chang­ing the way we man­age our health in 2015. This growth in “self data,” which includes phys­i­cal and emo­tion­al sig­nals, is just start­ing to be used for brand mes­sag­ing and tar­get­ing, extend­ing the abil­i­ty of neu­ro­science mar­ket research to move beyond pan­els and stud­ies to quan­ti­ta­tive data. Mar­keters will need to keep in mind that we buy wear­ables because we want to know our­selves and not because we want adver­tis­ing. We want rec­om­men­da­tions for us — reminders for what we need to do, what we may have for­got­ten or a nudge to ensure we are stay­ing healthy.


With the rise of ad-block­ing, the expect­ed demise of the ban­ner and the growth in video, cre­ative will be a big theme for 2016. Some say pro­gram­mat­ic broke adver­tis­ing, but pro­gram­mat­ic data will allow for the use of cur­rent insights to inform cre­ative exe­cu­tion. The use of data sci­ence to mea­sure and opti­mize cre­ative per­for­mance will grow with cur­rent cre­ative agen­cies look­ing to add data sci­en­tists to their ros­ter either through in-house or part­ner­ships.


It’s not real­ly about mobile as a silo any­more. It is real­ly about using the dig­i­tal and phys­i­cal data to reach your audi­ence wher­ev­er they are. Stud­ies in 2015 have already shown that mobile should be not used alone and instead, when part of the over­all media mix, enhances oth­er dig­i­tal and lin­ear chan­nels. The dis­tinc­tion of dig­i­tal chan­nels will merge by the end of 2016.

Mobile Attri­bu­tion

I would love to say that CTR declines as a trend in mobile mar­ket­ing as mobile attri­bu­tion catch­es up to mobile ad deliv­ery. There are some solu­tion providers who are mak­ing head­way in this area, but a lot of tech­nol­o­gy work still needs to be done.

Tom La Vecchia, President, X Factor Media

Tom La Vecchia X Factor Media The newest trend in mobile is the forced touch func­tion­al­i­ty, which will serve up pages based off of a soft or hard push. This will cre­ate a bet­ter user expe­ri­ence for iPhone users and will give Apple yet anoth­er advan­tage.

Wear­ables will also increase in mar­ket share, specif­i­cal­ly the watch cat­e­go­ry as active peo­ple will use it for small data as well as their tra­di­tion­al mobile phone. The Apple Watch is start­ing to take off and is show­ing no signs of slow­ing down in 2016.

Vir­tu­al real­i­ty will be more promi­nent, which will be used for both busi­ness and gam­ing. It will be used by the real estate mar­ket, trav­el indus­try and any area that ben­e­fits from expe­ri­en­tial mar­ket­ing.

Last­ly, 3D tech­nol­o­gy will final­ly get its due since the tim­ing is right and tech­nol­o­gy bet­ter sup­ports 3D mobile uti­liza­tion. It will be some­what lim­it­ed at first, but 3D will be ful­ly rolled out in three years as 2D will be a thing of the past.

Bob Bentz, president, Purplegator

Bob Bentz Purplegator Siri and OK Google use voice recog­ni­tion to ini­ti­ate a search. Expect Google’s next move to include improved voice recog­ni­tion in smart cars where dri­vers can’t type.

The pro­lif­er­a­tion of apps pos­es a seri­ous chal­lenge to Google and all of the search engines. That is because search engines can­not eas­i­ly index the con­tent that is inside of apps. Expect Google to no longer just pro­vide search on the Inter­net, but also pro­vide search inside of the mil­lions of apps that are avail­able.

Mobile brings a pow­er­ful array of laser tar­get­ing fea­tures that were not avail­able at any time in the past. But, to date, adver­tis­ers have not been able to take full advan­tage of them. That is all going to change as mar­keters con­tin­ue to become more sophis­ti­cat­ed in their abil­i­ty to manip­u­late big data and tar­get spe­cif­ic users with even more advanced loca­tion-based ser­vices.

Peo­ple are inher­ent­ly lazy and they aren’t going to read if they can be enter­tained with a video. More and more brands will expand their video capa­bil­i­ties to offer more engag­ing adver­tis­ing that goes far beyond the tra­di­tion­al ban­ner ad. This will be dri­ven in part by faster 5G ser­vices that will enable videos to load faster and eas­i­er.

TV pro­grams are going to find bet­ter ways to inte­grate mul­ti­screen­ing than just vot­ing on Amer­i­can Idol. View­ers are going to be able to choose the out­comes of episodes or vote on who should hook up on The Bach­e­lor. But it will be TV adver­tis­ers that lead the way with the most inno­v­a­tive mul­ti­screen­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. View­er­ship of TV ads is way down and the indus­try is too inno­v­a­tive to con­tin­ue to let that wane.

Mobile and tele­vi­sion are going to become clos­er bed­fel­lows through joint ven­tures and pos­si­bly even merg­ers or acqui­si­tions. Along with big data providers, the merg­ers will enable an adver­tis­ing pow­er­house by send­ing adver­tise­ments to smart­phones and tablets simul­ta­ne­ous with the view­ing of tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials.

The idea of using a mobile phone to pay just makes sense. It is far safer than cred­it cards and the user doesn’t have to wor­ry about los­ing them or his or her account get­ting hacked. More busi­ness­es will enter the mobile wal­let bat­tle.

Expect retail­ers to offer their own direct mobile pay­ment solu­tions to engage with their most loy­al users. Those pay­ment mech­a­nisms won’t only be in the mobile phone; they’ll also be embed­ded on key fobs and loy­al­ty cards. The ulti­mate win­ner is not going to be Apple Pay or Android Pay. It’s going to be the bank’s mobile wal­let offer­ing because it will be seam­less­ly inte­grat­ed into a customer’s exist­ing mobile bank­ing efforts.

Tim Lavelle, director of SEO and social media, U.S. Interactive Media

Tim Lavelle US Interactive Media Mobile assis­tants like Siri, Google Now and Cor­tana will con­tin­ue to gain more mar­ket share as more and more users switch to phones that include those tech­nolo­gies, as well as exist­ing users begin­ning to rely on them more. The key to lever­ag­ing these new tech­nolo­gies from a mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive is to make sure the tech­nolo­gies that pow­er these assis­tant ser­vices can under­stand and inter­pret your app and web­site data so that they can effec­tive­ly serve it to the end user.

To do this, sites will need to lever­age pro­to­cols like schema and micro­da­ta, high­light­ing their web­pages’ vital infor­ma­tion with the prop­er tags. Busi­ness­es with mobile apps will need to inte­grate app index­ing into their strate­gies so that apps can access data that is both with­in the app and out­side of it and vice ver­sa. The bot­tom line is: make your web­site and app as acces­si­ble as pos­si­ble to the ser­vices that your users are using.


Matt McGowan, Head of Strategy, Google

Matt McGowan Google Mobile has for­ev­er changed the way we live. It’s frac­tured the con­sumer jour­ney into hun­dreds of real-time, intent-dri­ven micro-moments, each one of which is a crit­i­cal oppor­tu­ni­ty for brands to shape our pur­chase deci­sions and per­son­al pref­er­ences. How does this man­i­fest?

  • 82 per­cent of smart­phone users turn to their phone to influ­ence a pur­chase deci­sion while in a store, imme­di­ate­ly before the point of sale.
  • 62 per­cent of smart­phone users are more like­ly to take action right away toward solv­ing an unex­pect­ed prob­lem or new task because they have a smart­phone.
  • 90 per­cent of smart­phone users have used their phone to make progress toward a long-term goal or mul­ti-step process while “out and about.”*

What can adver­tis­ers do about it? I believe there will be increased focus on reten­tion-based mar­ket­ing (the intro­duc­tion of Face­book’s Cus­tom Audi­ences and Google’s Cus­tomer Match sup­port this). Mar­keters will con­tin­ue to focus on sup­port­ing the cus­tomer in the moment that they need help ver­sus spend­ing on large brand­ing or aware­ness cam­paigns that lack the imme­di­a­cy focus. Mobile will be the plat­form where this takes place.

*Con­sumers in the Micro-Moment, Google/Ipsos, US, March 2015

Simon Heseltine, Senior Director of Organic Audience Development, AOL

Simon Heseltine AOL AOL CEO Tim Arm­strong recent­ly revealed that almost two-thirds of our traf­fic is from mobile. Mobile traf­fic to our Kore­an edi­tion of the Huff­in­g­ton Post is at 90 per­cent and it’s 72 per­cent at Huff­in­g­ton Post Japan. So clear­ly mobile is here to stay and any­one who hasn’t already imple­ment­ed a mobile solu­tion for their web­site has to be extreme­ly ner­vous when they show their ever-declin­ing traf­fic num­bers to man­age­ment.

What’s going to change in 2016?

Well, as more brands con­tin­ue to chase after the gold­en uni­corn that is Mil­len­ni­als, increas­ing the lev­el of com­pe­ti­tion for this finite resource, it’s going to become more and more chal­leng­ing for mar­keters to gain a foothold and retain their share of this alleged­ly fick­le demo­graph­ic.

We already saw Google con­cen­trat­ing more on mobile in 2015 with the Mobi­leged­don update, and giv­en the traf­fic com­ing from mobile, there’s no rea­son to think that focus on mobile qual­i­ty and speed won’t con­tin­ue, so there’ll be fur­ther mobile-spe­cif­ic updates/adjustments that fur­ther refine those require­ments.

Google’s already pushed out their Web Light solu­tion for mobile users that don’t have the band­width to han­dle the full pages. While it’s cur­rent­ly only in emerg­ing mar­kets, it’s not a huge jump to see Google, at some stage, pos­si­bly imple­ment­ing parts of this to “speed up” slow mobile sites – in oth­er words, those that aren’t opti­mized – rather than just penal­iz­ing them.

Mobile Firms

Patrick Haig, product manager of App Store Analytics, Tune

Patrick Haig Tune Mar­keters often talk about mobile ver­sus desk­top or apps ver­sus the web. 2015 showed us that these chasms are grad­u­al­ly clos­ing. We saw the release of Google App Index­ing for iOS, bring­ing iOS apps into Google search results. Apple released Uni­ver­sal Links, bring­ing users from the web into the app expe­ri­ence with­out requir­ing an SDK. We also saw Apple release new Search APIs to help devel­op­ers bring users from on-device search back into installed apps.

In 2015, plat­form own­ers also sought to make app store dis­cov­ery, well, suck a lit­tle less. Google released an A/B test­ing tool to help devel­op­ers bet­ter under­stand that mes­sag­ing, cre­ative and con­tent leads to more installs and Apple released some algo­rithm updates lead­ing to more rel­e­vant search results.

2016 will be the year that mar­keters real­ly wrap their heads around these devel­op­ments in a mean­ing­ful (and mea­sur­able!) way. Brands will use these tech­nolo­gies in earnest to bring users into the app, where con­text lives, like loca­tion, pay­ment capa­bil­i­ties, com­mu­ni­ca­tion, etc., which leads to engag­ing expe­ri­ences.

Bridg­ing the web-to-app divide hasn’t been straight­for­ward though, and while the val­ue is appar­ent, the mea­sur­able ben­e­fit has been tough to dis­cern. Google offers some insights into what queries lead to an app’s con­tent, but this data is only avail­able for Android apps. With Uni­ver­sal Links, mea­sure­ment becomes even more dif­fi­cult (i.e., Apple doesn’t pro­vide any).

Ana­lyt­ics com­pa­nies are work­ing hard to solve this and for good rea­son: Mar­keters need data to real­ly under­stand the impor­tance of new tech­nolo­gies. Mar­keters aren’t wait­ing, but mea­sure­ment will enable them to pri­or­i­tize con­tent based on per­for­mance and opti­mize con­tent for max­i­mum engage­ment.

App store dis­cov­ery will also con­tin­ue to be a hot top­ic in 2016 with new­er strate­gies like app store A/B test­ing becom­ing more wide­spread. Since Google’s A/B test­ing tool came out, a lot of mar­keters have tak­en advan­tage. Mar­keters are test­ing how videos, screen­shot con­tent and oth­er ele­ments impact install rates and even the behav­ior of users that even­tu­al­ly install.

Although Apple hasn’t released its own A/B test­ing tool, mar­keters will lever­age third-par­ty prod­ucts with the same intent: how to get more hard-won traf­fic to install. While ever­green strate­gies around app store opti­miza­tion, like key­word opti­miza­tion, will con­tin­ue to be cen­tral to mobile mar­ket­ing, mea­sure­ment will dri­ve more adop­tion of these nascent tech­nolo­gies by sophis­ti­cat­ed mar­keters.

Momchil Kyurkchiev, CEO, Leanplum

Momchil Kyurkchiev of Leanplum In 2016, the mobile indus­try will see a greater empha­sis on per­son­al­iz­ing push noti­fi­ca­tions.

Right now, too many brands use a one-size-fits-all approach to push, or send the same mes­sage to their full cus­tomer base, often only dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing by name. These brands are miss­ing out on oppor­tu­ni­ties to build one-on-one rela­tion­ships with cus­tomers.

In 2016, I think more brands will see the val­ue of per­son­al­iza­tion and con­nect with behav­ior-dri­ven mes­sages, dri­ving engage­ment and con­ver­sions.

Djamel Agaoua, SVP, Cheetah Mobile

Djamel Agaoua of Cheetah As more users engage with mobile, brands, adver­tis­ers and devel­op­ers will gath­er and learn from an extra­or­di­nary amount of sig­nals data. Under­stand that I am not ref­er­enc­ing sim­ple demo­graph­ic data, but actu­al behav­ioral data found in those sig­nals: How you use an app, when and to what out­comes.

This behav­ior-based data is the omnipresent nat­ur­al resource that the promise of mobile com­merce is based on. When adver­tis­ers, mar­keters and devel­op­ers have the reli­able tools and process­es to ver­i­fy that data and the abil­i­ty to turn that raw fuel into the stuff that will pow­er ana­lyt­ics tech­nolo­gies and feed native ad for­mats tai­lored to the user’s cir­cum­stances, mobile will have reached its tip­ping point. The flood­gates will open and we’ll stop think­ing of mobile in terms of its poten­tial and instead under­stand it for the game-chang­ing com­mer­cial force that it is.

For the last quar­ter of 2015, there’s been a lot of chat­ter about ad block­ing, with many pun­dits bemoan­ing the poten­tial­ly crip­pling effects of ad-block­ing techs on the growth of m‑commerce. Those con­ver­sa­tions are miss­ing the point.

Ad block­ing isn’t the end of mobile com­merce, it’s the cat­a­lyst that will bring us to the next lev­el. Seen in its true light, ad block­ing is a sign mobile is matur­ing and a clear indi­ca­tion as to the future of next-lev­el native adver­tis­ing for­mats.

The rea­sons that con­sumers are adopt­ing ad-block­ing tech­nolo­gies are sim­ple: mobile ads are intru­sive, off-tar­get and pro­vide no util­i­tar­i­an val­ue. The future of mobile ads – next-lev­el native – will change that by lever­ag­ing the cre­ativ­i­ty of brands, devel­op­ers and pub­lish­ers with the vision to cre­ate inno­v­a­tive new ad for­mats that pro­vide val­ue-add by mix­ing the ad expe­ri­ence with the things we use our mobiles for every day.

This per­fect union of engage­ment, util­i­ty and com­mer­cial oppor­tu­ni­ty will be found exact­ly where we spend most of our mobile time: in apps. Net-net, this evolv­ing, supe­ri­or engage­ment between brands and users will organ­i­cal­ly lend itself towards bet­ter, more tar­get­ed ads, low­er cost per acqui­si­tion and high­er life­time val­ues of users.

Adam Meshekow, EVP of Strategy and National Sales, SITO Mobile

Adam Meshekow of SITO CRM data will be uti­lized much more through brands for closed-loop attri­bu­tion. So you use your own cus­tomer data for tar­get­ing to cre­ate loy­al­ty. That same data will be used to then find the effec­tive­ness of ads and attri­bu­tion. You’ll also see an uptick in the return of lapse cus­tomers — peo­ple they haven’t seen in the store in a cer­tain num­ber of times — because now you can use their data to tar­get them with spe­cif­ic, cus­tomized ads to bring them back.

Mobile video is going to be huge. We’ll see adver­tis­ers using mobile video pro­gram­mat­i­cal­ly out­side of tra­di­tion­al DMA and demo­graph­ic tar­get­ing. We’ll see more rich data seg­ments used in a mobile video capac­i­ty and for­mats are start­ing to change as well to be more dynam­ic.

We’re also mov­ing to mobile 2.0 with mobile pro­gram­mat­ic. This is using mobile data and pro­gram­mat­ic to tar­get mobile users more effec­tive­ly. We’ll see adver­tis­ers using data to pow­er cre­ative mes­sag­ing to tar­get across mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent aspects of the busi­ness. This would include sequen­tial mes­sag­ing and dynam­ic cre­ative based on weath­er, loca­tion, behav­ior and even pur­chase data.

Brian Stumbaugh, Digital Marketing Manager, Barefoot Solutions

Brian Stumbaugh Barefoot Solutions The next big trend in mobile mar­ket­ing is going to be extreme­ly tar­get­ed adver­tis­ing based off of cus­tomer data.

This mar­ket­ing automa­tion uses algo­rithms to find the ide­al times to reach out to cus­tomers with in-app mes­sages, push noti­fi­ca­tions, social media mar­ket­ing, etc.

This is already gain­ing trac­tion and will be essen­tial to mar­ket­ing strate­gies in 2016.

Miné Salkin, Senior Digital Strategist, Absolute Mobile Solutions

Miné Salkin Absolute Mobile Solutions The first mobile mar­ket­ing trend that will inevitably be explored more active­ly by mar­keters will be incor­po­rat­ing live stream­ing video tech­nolo­gies through mobile apps and social media plat­forms.

While live video stream­ing isn’t exact­ly a new­ly dis­cov­ered tool, there are a hand­ful of com­pa­nies who have already deliv­ered stun­ning results. One case study that comes to mind is Jim­my Fal­lon’s use of Periscope to entice his fans by show­ing spe­cial, one-off behind-the-scenes clips of his life.

2016 will be a par­tic­u­lar­ly excit­ing time for 360 video pro­duc­ers who will be able to effec­tive­ly take their audi­ences cap­tive and show them a whole new dimen­sion of sto­ry­telling. Users will be able to walk through brand acti­va­tion-like expe­ri­ences with­out even tak­ing a sin­gle step away from their phone screens.

With vir­tu­al real­i­ty devices like Google Card­board and oth­er con­sumer-lev­el entry head­sets, 360-degree video and vir­tu­al real­i­ty are going to become main play­ers on the mobile mar­ket­ing front. While qual­i­ty and cost are still a bar­ri­er to entry for pub­lish­ers, there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty for ear­ly adopters to get into this realm and cre­ate stun­ning, immer­sive expe­ri­ences for their cus­tomers.

Ken Harlan, CEO, MobileFuse

Kenneth Harlan Mobilefuse Smaller Every year, there are a few key areas that always seem to improve in mobile mar­ket­ing: cre­ative, tar­get­ing and attri­bu­tion.

On the cre­ative side, it’s all about find­ing ways to dri­ve engage­ment and in many cas­es brands are find­ing ways to use the native func­tion­al­i­ty of a mobile device to cre­ate some new type of expe­ri­ence, whether that’s using voice, the accelerom­e­ter, or, going for­ward, it could even be vir­tu­al real­i­ty.

With tar­get­ing, the major emerg­ing trend is the impor­tance of tar­get­ing recep­tive moments. Adver­tis­ers are going away from tar­get­ing stan­dard demos, or using basic geo-fenc­ing, and are instead try­ing to under­stand what mind­set peo­ple are in when they are view­ing an ad and what con­tex­tu­al infor­ma­tion they can use to make an ad more rel­e­vant. This was a huge theme in 2015 and will con­tin­ue to be impor­tant in 2016.

For attri­bu­tion, it’s all about mov­ing beyond the click. How can we mea­sure brand lift? How are mobile and dig­i­tal ads impact­ing foot traf­fic or in-store pur­chas­es? Also, as the focus of tar­get­ing shifts towards these recep­tive moments, we’re see­ing this reflect­ed in attri­bu­tion, too, and adver­tis­ers are going to be real­ly focus­ing on not just how an ad per­formed, but why it may have per­formed the way it did.

Ariel Shimoni, Director of Publisher Relations, StartApp

Ariel Shimoni StartApp 2015 saw the begin­ning of mobile video ads tak­ing over as one of the most pop­u­lar mar­ket­ing tools avail­able for adver­tis­ers. It became the gate­way for many big name brands to start spend­ing more on mobile (video is a natural/known medi­um for them, mak­ing it eas­i­er to buy on mobile) and apps and gam­ing mar­keters took advan­tage of video to eas­i­ly dis­trib­ute their titles through the insane­ly pop­u­lar reward­ed video ad unit in some of the most pop­u­lar games last year (Crossy Road is a good exam­ple).

Video will cer­tain­ly keep that momen­tum as more and more brands fol­low the trend and start mobile video cam­paigns.

Pro­gram­mat­ic buy­ing in mobile, I pre­dict, will also con­tin­ue to dom­i­nate the scene in 2016 as more and more buy­ers are look­ing for automa­tion and at the same time real-time bid­ding tech­nol­o­gy makes its way into top tier pub­lish­ers in mobile. It makes sense and is a nat­ur­al pro­gres­sion for mobile to offer smarter and more cost-effec­tive buy­ing meth­ods sim­i­lar to the web.

Last I’d men­tion social, where we see already huge vol­umes and spend and I am con­fi­dent this will just keep on grow­ing as there is so much more on social mobile apps that have yet to be tapped into. There is a lot more that mar­keters can learn about users and there will be new ways to reach and inter­act with them in a far more per­son­al and direct way.

As for new trends, 2016 will be the break­out year for vir­tu­al real­i­ty (as a nerd, I’ll add, “Final­ly!”). Mobile vir­tu­al real­i­ty (which is a VR head­set uti­liz­ing a mobile device to run the vir­tu­al real­i­ty expe­ri­ence) is the first to make it into mar­ket – Google Card­board and Sam­sung Gear VR are already released and hun­dreds of mobile VR games and apps are already avail­able for down­load on Android and iOS. While 2016 won’t see this as a mass mar­ket trend just yet, we will hear and see a lot of buzz around stun­ning cam­paigns by huge brands, offer­ing tru­ly new expe­ri­ences to users.

Santiago Jaramillo, CEO, Bluebridge

Santiago Jaramillo Bluebridge There’s no ques­tion that mar­keters will gain more insights and real-time mobile data about their cus­tomers in 2016 than ever before. We know this because micro-moments enabled by mobile are reshap­ing con­sumer rela­tion­ships more and more, redefin­ing how brands inter­act with and learn about con­sumers.

Mobile is enabling these micro-moments by giv­ing con­sumers the access to infor­ma­tion that they crave when­ev­er and wher­ev­er they want it. Con­sumers have caught on to the pat­terns of web brows­ing, leav­ing them with an under­ly­ing sense that they’re being tracked and can’t con­trol how the infor­ma­tion will be used. But mobile apps have cre­at­ed a trust and inti­ma­cy between brand and con­sumer that makes demo­graph­ic and psy­cho­graph­ic infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing feel unob­tru­sive when request­ed through mobile. When done right, it doesn’t feel like a bur­den — but more like excel­lent cus­tomer sup­port.

Through the inti­ma­cy and per­son­al­ized feel of mobile mes­sages, con­sumers feel more com­fort­able allow­ing brands to be a part of their every­day lives by con­tact­ing them via push on their most pre­ferred devices. In fact, push noti­fi­ca­tions are now becom­ing the UI them­selves. We’ve start­ed to see this more and more through small but sig­nif­i­cant changes to our favorite apps and pro­grams. Facebook’s new app, Noti­fy, which is entire­ly push-based, allows users to get quick, up-to-the-minute noti­fi­ca­tions from the third par­ty sources they trust and want to hear from most.

When vis­it­ing web­sites, even if you’re logged in all the time, you’re still a vis­i­tor. With apps/notifications, you own the app. Infor­ma­tion from the brands you pre­fer are com­ing direct­ly to you. This real­i­ty opens the con­sumer up to the unprece­dent­ed expe­ri­ence of hav­ing a much more fre­quent and repet­i­tive rela­tion­ship with that prod­uct or ser­vice. In 2016, we will again expe­ri­ence a shift in con­sumer com­mu­ni­ca­tion and engage­ment that puts mobile at the fore­front of mar­ket­ing strate­gies through the pow­er of micro-moments.


Eli Goodman, Media Evangelist, comScore

Eli Goodman comScore 2016 will be the year of mobile ad mea­sure­ment. In 2014, con­sumers shift­ed their media usage to mobile in a big way. In 2015, the dol­lars began to fol­low.

In 2016, adver­tis­ers are going to look for more proof that those dol­lars are being spent wise­ly and that means mea­sur­ing that mobile ads are view­able, free of fraud and reach­ing the right audi­ences. This intro­duces cross-media com­pa­ra­bil­i­ty to TV and online and gives mar­keters the abil­i­ty to ensure that their adver­tis­ing invest­ments align with their mar­ket­ing objec­tives.

Ray Pun, Head of Strategic Marketing for Mobile Solutions, Adobe

Ray Pun Adobe Loca­tion is a big trend. Even with this hol­i­day sea­son, we saw major retail­ers exper­i­ment­ing with this, try­ing to encour­age shop­pers to use their mobile devices more when in-store. For instance, shop­pers could pho­to­graph their friend’s shoes and the app would pull up sug­ges­tions based off of that.

This is sig­nif­i­cant because mobile is the link that ties the phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal worlds togeth­er; these devices move with the user, with con­tex­tu­al data that allows brands to deliv­er per­son­al­ized expe­ri­ences. Recent Adobe sur­vey data shows that less than 50 per­cent of con­sumers are sat­is­fied with the mobile retail expe­ri­ence, indi­cat­ing an oppor­tu­ni­ty for brands to do more.

On mobile, engage­ment is real­ly becom­ing the new acqui­si­tion. In the rush to acquire new users, we are see­ing a trend where users are either aban­don­ing apps or only using them a few times. Adobe data shows that shop­ping apps are used an aver­age of 13.5 times before being aban­doned and apps gen­er­al­ly have a half life of about 5 to 6 months. In 2016, brands will need to place heavy empha­sis on not only acquir­ing users, but fig­ur­ing out ways to keep them engaged and retained.

It will require a bet­ter under­stand­ing of user behav­ior, lever­ag­ing that to iter­ate con­stant­ly on the mobile expe­ri­ence and make data-informed deci­sions when it comes to engage­ment tac­tics like push mes­sag­ing. Red­box for exam­ple, was able to pin­point the exact hour for a push mes­sage that result­ed in a 2X increase of phys­i­cal rentals. These efforts will also enable brands to dis­cov­er the hero fea­tures that will make their apps high val­ue for the user, like the board­ing pass in the trav­el indus­try.

Data dri­ven mar­keters will extend their knowl­edge of A/B and mul­ti­vari­ate test­ing from the web to mobile apps. We expect mobile prod­uct and mar­ket­ing teams to work togeth­er on strate­gies for improv­ing user engage­ment and con­ver­sion. Ulti­mate­ly, dri­ving more repeat usage from loy­al cus­tomers is the goal for every busi­ness with con­sumer-fac­ing apps.

Nadia Shouraboura of HointerNadia Shouraboura, CEO, Hointer

I pre­dict a rapid evo­lu­tion of phys­i­cal expe­ri­ences, like in-store shop­ping, pow­ered by mobile and IoT devices, which, in turn, will bring new and untapped oppor­tu­ni­ties for mobile loca­tion and action-based mar­ket­ing.

Chris Lucas, VP of Marketing, Formstack

Chris Lucas FormstackAd block­ing apps have been avail­able for Google devices and now apps are being cre­at­ed for Apple’s oper­at­ing sys­tems – these apps are here to stay. But it seems that devel­op­ers are quick­ly real­iz­ing the apps need to be refined to coex­ist with ben­e­fi­cial ad copy while elim­i­nat­ing the spam­my coun­ter­parts.

I believe that over time, ad block­ers will evolve to crawl ads so they can dif­fer­en­ti­ate qual­i­ty ad copy from spam. This will give users the enhanced mobile expe­ri­ence they’re look­ing for, while still allow­ing mar­keters to reach their tar­get audi­ences through valu­able con­tent, once again stress­ing the impor­tance of high-cal­iber ad copy from mar­keters.

Julie Ginches, CMO, Kahuna

Julie Ginches Kahuna The cost to acquire mobile users is already going up and with the grow­ing adop­tion of mobile ad-block­ing tech­nol­o­gy, it may rise even more in 2016. One of the biggest trends we expect to see in 2016 is brands mak­ing a big­ger push to con­vert users to chan­nels that the brand can con­trol, like push noti­fi­ca­tions, in-app mes­sag­ing and email.

The bar for cus­tomer expe­ri­ence will also rise in 2016. We all remem­ber when it was a nice-to-have for your bank to have an app, but now that’s a require­ment and peo­ple also expect that app to be able to deposit checks by tak­ing pic­tures, locate ATMs quick­ly and inte­grate with fin­ger­print read­ers for authen­ti­ca­tion.

That high lev­el of expec­ta­tion also applies to the mes­sages brands send users. If you’re send­ing the same mes­sage via email, push and in-app, it’s going to turn users off. The best brands in 2016 will have a holis­tic omnichan­nel expe­ri­ence that ensures every mes­sage adds val­ue and delights the user. It’s not an easy task, but it’s what your cus­tomers demand.

Nico Dato, Head of Marketing, Podium

Nico Dato Podium One of the major trends we’ll see in 2016 is increas­es in local search­es via mobile devices.

Accord­ing to Google, search­es for local busi­ness­es or ser­vices have already dou­bled in the last year and many of those search­es are com­ing from con­sumers who have imme­di­ate buy­er intent and are search­ing from a mobile device.

We’ll see online reviews also play a larg­er role in help­ing con­sumers deter­mine what busi­ness­es they should engage with. Boil down a cus­tomer’s jour­ney and you’ll see local search and reviews play­ing a larg­er role than ever before.

Andrew Lovasz Search OpticsAndrew Lovasz, SVP of Marketing Strategy, Search Optics

Click to call cam­paigns will be preva­lent 2016, giv­ing mobile users increased access and con­ve­nience. Mar­keters will be able to give users what they want quick­er and eas­i­er. This will also allow for more unique phone track­ing, with increased data on search queries by brand, cat­e­go­ry, prod­uct, etc.

Jenny Beightol, Director of Words and Reputations, Belly

Jenny Beightol Belly The use of bea­cons will def­i­nite­ly be on the rise in 2016. This tech­nol­o­gy is espe­cial­ly pow­er­ful because it can iden­ti­fy when cus­tomers are inside a store and tar­get them with spe­cial offers based on their brows­ing and pur­chase behav­ior.

Brands that use loy­al­ty pro­grams that include bea­cons will have an advan­tage because they won’t have to build the tech­nol­o­gy on their own. They can send push noti­fi­ca­tions through their loy­al­ty pro­grams direct­ly to their cus­tomers when they’re inside the store to alert them of sales and offers that are high­ly tar­get­ed to them.

We pre­dict that QR codes and card-linked loy­al­ty will become even more inte­grat­ed with in-store shop­ping behav­iors. Not only do loy­al­ty pro­grams incen­tivize cus­tomers to return more often, but by adding the dig­i­tal com­po­nent, busi­ness own­ers can learn who their cus­tomers are, as well as more about their pur­chas­ing behav­iors.

Jason Rothman, General Manager of Mobile, SteelHouse

Jason Rothman SteelHouse 2016 will be about con­ver­sions on mobile. Con­sumers are spend­ing beyond pre­dic­tions. I would wager that Black Fri­day and Cyber Mon­day 2016 will show close to 50 per­cent of total dig­i­tal e‑comm spend will be on mobile. This puts huge impor­tance on in-app retar­get­ing, dynam­ic cre­ative and robust seg­men­ta­tion.

A lot of talk about con­nect­ing brick and mor­tar with mobile device expe­ri­ences will like­ly dri­ve to more solu­tions at POCs, which will con­nect loy­al­ty, pro­mo­tions and prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions.

And, as mobile dri­ves more con­sumer spend, X‑device will be less impor­tant. It will become more of a stan­dard check­box every­one needs to sup­port.

Sean Shoffstall, VP of Innovation and Strategy, Teradata Marketing Applications

Sean Shoffstall Teradata In 2016, we’re going to see a big push for mobile push noti­fi­ca­tions. Take a look at these sta­tis­tics: A recent report from Onestop Inter­net said that 25 per­cent of con­sumers said receiv­ing rel­e­vant push noti­fi­ca­tions on their smart­phones always makes them more like­ly to com­plete a pur­chase. That being said, oth­er stud­ies have men­tioned that only 20 per­cent of retail­ers are using this method. Why is this?

A lot of mar­keters aren’t see­ing push noti­fi­ca­tions as mar­ket­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties – but that’s exact­ly what they are. Many retail­ers, for exam­ple, have mobile appli­ca­tions just to say they have one, but once they have an appli­ca­tion, it’s impor­tant to acknowl­edge that it’s anoth­er mar­ket­ing avenue. There’s email, SMS and in-store, but mobile push needs to be a key part of this strat­e­gy as well.

Any­one who has down­loaded an app has clear­ly shown inter­est in what the retail­er has to offer. These are the cream of the crop cus­tomers and retail­ers don’t have to wor­ry about some anony­mous per­son they’re mar­ket­ing to – this is some­one who has raised their hand and said, “I’m inter­est­ed in your prod­ucts.”

Tal Schwartz ClickTaleTal Schwartz, CEO, ClickTale

Eye con­trol via accu­rate eye track­ing will be launched in 2016 and become a major input method.

Costs are com­ing down, adding to its via­bil­i­ty as a new way we inter­act with devices, smart­phones, and watch­es.

With the addi­tion of voice con­trol, eye con­trol will be added to tac­tile input devices, touch and key­board.

Jamar Cobb-Dennard, Sales and Marketing Consultant,

Jamar Cobb-Dennard Emarsys Online/Offline Inte­gra­tion

Con­sumers expect their mobile expe­ri­ences to fol­low and mim­ic their online and brick-and-mor­tar expe­ri­ences with brands. Nine­ty-one per­cent of cus­tomers are brows­ing a brand’s web­site while in store, while 75 per­cent of those cus­tomers who receive a mobile coupon while in-store would change their buy­ing behav­ior. Mobile mar­keters have to go beyond being sim­ply mobile-friend­ly and have to inte­grate their shop­ping expe­ri­ences across chan­nel.

Geolo­ca­tion Cus­tomer Aware­ness

In a sub­tle way, mar­keters need to devel­op a sys­tem using geolo­ca­tion tech­nol­o­gy that iden­ti­fies cus­tomers who have already vis­it­ed a brand online when they are walk­ing by a store. How great would it be to receive a coupon for an item in an aban­doned cart when you’re sit­ting in the food court of the mall doing hol­i­day shop­ping? This type of mar­ket­ing will increase con­ver­sions.

Chan­nel Pref­er­ence Opti­miza­tion

Even though the num­ber of cus­tomers who pre­fer to receive their pri­ma­ry com­mu­ni­ca­tion from brands via mobile is less than email, there is still a sig­nif­i­cant per­cent­age who would pre­fer to com­mu­ni­cate through app push mes­sages and text. Don’t wor­ry about send­ing a sur­vey to gauge their pref­er­ence – sim­ply send your cam­paigns via mul­ti-chan­nels and see which cus­tomers are open­ing and/or respond­ing to each mes­sage by which chan­nel. This tells us con­sumers’ true pref­er­ences. Then we can send our wel­come series, cart aban­don­ment, browse aban­don­ment and post-pur­chase cam­paigns via the chan­nel that will elic­it the great­est impact.

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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