2016 Q4: The Top 4 Trends That Drive Online Marketing

What will the rest of the year bring?

Three quarters through 2016, we’ve seen online marketing developing at an unprecedented pace, with technological advances to match. Big data, conversational commerce, personalization at a level we’ve never seen before…

While it’s a challenge to keep our feet on this shifting ground, there are more opportunities than ever for marketers to reach customers in new and creative ways. Here are the top trends that we’ve been tracking this year, and which you can’t afford to ignore.

Mobile goes up and up… and up…

The last year has seen incredible growth in mobile use. Numbers in Asia especially have gone through the roof: Asia now accounts for 52% of global users, up from just 34% in 2008. Mobile traffic overtook desktop use a few years ago, and more than half of all web traffic is now over mobile. Mobile advertising accounts for one-third of all internet ad spending: over $20 billion in the US alone. If you aren’t putting mobile first, you’re going to lose ground fast.

All the major companies are onto this. Google is catering to smartphone users with new mobile-friendly algorithm updates and Facebook has introduced mobile-optimized layout changes. However, since last year, 200 million more people began blocking ads on their phones. Users turn to ad blocking software when digital ads become too repetitive and disruptive, so the best answer to this trend is be creative with your ads. Most importantly, format them specifically for mobile screens.

Messaging apps take center stage

The use of social networks is declining, but messaging apps like Snapchat and Whatsapp are taking the social market by storm, rapidly overtaking established social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Whatsapp has seen incredible growth, adding 100 million new users in just four months! It now reaches over 1 billion people, and Facebook and WeChat aren’t far behind. It’s clear that messaging apps are the hottest new frontier for digital marketing. These apps have been ad-free up until now, but chatbots, in-app purchasing and other innovative tactics by early-adopter brandsare starting to tap into them.

Gaining a foothold in messaging apps requires going beyond the conventional advertising model. Conversational commerce is the way of the future. Twitter is already offering conversational ads – basically letting users promote your product for you – and more platforms are sure to follow soon.

 In-app purchase is changing the way your customers are buying

Ecommerce – which now represents 10% of total retail in the US – is moving off traditional retail websites and onto Google shopping, social media and apps. Users now rely on apps more than traditional websites, so app marketing is essential.

In-app payment is one of the best ways for brands to improve user engagement, increase in-app spending and reduce basket abandonment. This development is transforming the way ecommerce is conducted, and eMarketer expects a 210% growth in the total value of mobile payment transactions this year.

Your viewers expect extreme personalization

Internet users are exposed to hundreds of ads every day. Keep this in mind before you ask them to look at yours. Everyone expects such a high level of personalization across apps, devices and social media that they have less and less tolerance for irrelevant messages.

To counter ad fatigue, incorporate interactive features into your ads. Your ad should offer real value to your audience – otherwise it will be lost in the background noise. Stay on top of your publishing data to make sure your ads are only appearing to people who are really interested. Fortunately, improvements in data science, analytics and attention metrics are making this possible like never before.

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