Things likely to trend in the digital business in 2016 and why

Innovations in video – 2016 could be the tipping point for digital videos. Innovative formats like 360 degree video that can be played on a 4000 rupees smartphone will make way for brands to reach audience at large. It won’t be a surprise if a share-worthy content on YouTube powered by right media mix surpasses the reach of TV.

The rise of VR – With diminishing cost of virtual reality headsets (starts at Rs. 190 on Amazon), real-estate brands may switch from printing expensive brochures to sending a VR kit that provides an immersive experience of their projects.

Tougher fight on app engagement – With great discounts and cash back came great app installs, but there’s another fight to be won post install; it’s called app engagement or how to get customers to open my app over competition? Armed with Deep link techniques and App Engagement Ads, we can expect more action by marketers to get woo customers.

HTML5 comes of age – Starting Jan 2016 most publishers including Google are only accepting HTML5 format as standard for ads and innovations (RIP Flash). This move will force advertisers to step out of their comfort zone and create ads and innovations that mirror the way people interact with their devices. Experimentation on HTML5 will make way for truly device agnostic experience of creative communication.

Chat-commerce – We saw the likes of Pizza Hut and Burger King selling fast food online through ebay and Snapdeal. In 2016, we may see the emergence of chat-commerce. There are multiple success stories of brands leveraging WeChat in China for mobile transactions. Indian apps like HelpChat and Terraa are just a few early players who are leveraging chat or chat kind of interface to redefine mobile commerce.

More Brick n Click stores – The hybrid format of having a few flagship stores by ecommerce brand are nothing new, but with growing level of me-too players in every segment brands may be have to been seen at right place all the time. 2016 may see more click only brands foraying into physical store to win over customer trust and goodwill. Besides, these stores also aids in reverse ROPO (research online, purchase offline) something what Dell did well – experience & pay for the product at a store near you, we will ship it to you later.

SEO will run amok – Google announced ‘Mobilegeddon’ in 2015, its significant algorithm update that takes ‘mobile-friendly’ as an important ranking factor in search results that has disrupted SERP ranking order. While many websites faced harsh penalty of being pushed down the search results and losing traffic as a result; I feel this is only the beginning of the mobilegeddon. Internet access from phones surpassed desktop years ago and it is critical to come to terms with this reality.

Diffusion of IOT and Smart devices in meaningful ways: The adoption of smart devices have been much slower than the pundits’ predictions. Hopefully, smartwatch makers will introduce 3rd generation of devices that will look less like ankle bracelet for people in house-arrest and more like fashion accessory with longer battery life. This combined with apps by brands built ground up for smart devices will drive diffusion of IOT and Smart devices in consumers’ life in meaningful ways.

The deepening relationship between content, community and commerce – Social media and content marketing has been like word of mouth on steroids. Its ability to convert conversation into transactions will lead to higher volume and variety of content being created jointly by brand and its community (UGC, blogs, unboxing videos, etc.,) to drive many-to-many communication.

4G and bundled entertainment – We are nation where customers embrace 4G but continue to use missed call as a ways to reach brands. This paradox may not end soon, but brands that bundle their message with entertainment are fail-safe.

Redefining direct marketing – advancement in CRM solutions and data analytics will help brands to synergise customer data created across multiple touch points like social media, call-centre, and web to form accurate customer persona. This will lead to rebirth of electronic direct marketing that may be more effective than re-targeting and mailers. We can expect more brand case studies like how Target predicted teen girl’s pregnancy before her dad knew.

It’ll be interesting to see how 2016 unfolds. Happy New Year to you all.