The Year of ______? Marketing Predictions for 2016

By Blair Keeley, EVP, Chief Creative Officer, West Cary Group

Oh, 2015. We hardly knew you. It seems like just yesterday WCG was buzzing with discussions about the blurred responsibilities of the CIO and CMO, the domination of mobile, the potential of wearables and the surge in visual storytelling.

Now we’re a little bit older, a lot wiser and forever forward leaning. As such, we have to ask ourselves that age-old New Year’s question: What does 2016 have in store for the world of marketing?

We have a few guesses.

1.     Mobile payments cash in. eMarketer predicts that by 2016, mobile payments in the U.S. will triple. This statistic may have been given a boost by an occurrence that’s been hard to miss: Last October, merchants were required to upgrade their credit card systems to chip-and-PIN, or fraud liability would fall on their shoulders. The new tech is more secure, but the process is noticeably longer.

Time is money, people.

Many sellers (and consumers) just might take the leap to mobile and make use of near field communication. It’s the next logical step for conducting transactions, and, hey, if more than two billion people around the world this year will own smartphones (as eMarketer also predicts), why shouldn’t they put them to maximum use?

2.     VR comes out to play. Last November, the Samsung Gear VR – on sale for only $99 online – sold out in a matter of days at Amazon and Best Buy. So far, a lot of gamers are excited about this tech, and how could they not be? Headsets and chairs can only take you so far. With the introduction of the Gear, you get complete (albeit sometimes jagged) immersion.

But on the horizon are the releases of Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus and Microsoft’s HoloLens – all complete with better user experiences and slightly heftier price tags. But create content that adds value, and people – and industries – may swarm to see what marketers can finally do with this next-gen tech. Oh, and did we mention that TrendForce predicted device sales are going to hit 14 million units worldwide this year? Game changer.

3.     Google purchases Twitter. Admittedly, this one is the biggest gamble as far as predictions go, but, if you haven’t noticed, Twitter has been in a tailspin recently. Stocks plunged 13 percent last October. Fourth-quarter revenue expectations were at least $40 million lower than anticipated, and all the “moments,” heart icons and new leadership in the world weren’t able to fix it.

That’s not to say that Twitter isn’t still one of the best real-time social platforms around.

At the same time, Google’s social experiments have been floundering. When was the last time you checked in to your Hangout? Took a spin around Google+?  Google hasn’t been creating these social spaces out of the goodness of its heart. The true purpose is to create a Facebook killer – or at least a viable competitor – which would be mightily difficult. MySpace couldn’t do it even with the magic of JT. And he brought sexy back.

Google also wants to glean improved behavioral data so it can fine-tune algorithms, create better search results and keep winning in the marketplace. Twitter – even with all its problems – still has a built-in audience (a respectable 320 million users) and just might offer the best solution.

4.     5G moves from concept to reality. Super-fast data speeds (think downloading a full-length HD movie in three seconds). Greater data capacity (“So long, restrictive mobile allowances!”). Reduced latency (“Bye-bye, buffering.”). Though no one has truly agreed on the 5G standard, these are some basic promises that make it quite alluring. In fact, Verizon is already taking steps to begin field trials by September and is anticipating some commercial deployment in 2017 – three years faster than originally anticipated.

But the biggest promise is a support structure that can accommodate the billions of connected devices that are on the horizon with the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). As self-driving cars, smart homes, drones, wearables and other items gain traction, they’ll need a good backbone to improve their value. Laying the foundation for 5G is the first step.

These are, of course, guesses – but very educated ones based on our analysis of the market and consumer trends. It’s largely why WCGi is marking our territory in VR and extending our reach in mobile marketing – to be innovators in expanding fields on behalf our clients.

If you want us to show you how we can make our expertise work for your business, just contact us. There’s no time like the present to make 2016 your best marketing year yet.

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