London, UK (Scicasts) — It has certainly not been just any old year in the world of marketing. In 2015, the number of jobs involving digital marketing skills grew by 40% (General Assembly) and a whole host of developments mean we really have to redefine what is now considered mainstream.

We are delving into what happened in 2015 and how you can turn these trends into your advantage in 2016.

1. The world goes ‘mobile first’

It’s official, 2015 saw mobile searches overtake desktop searches. The trend of increasing on-the-go-Googling even led the search engine giant to roll out their new search algorithm, dubbed by some as ‘Mobilegeddon’. Basically, if your website is not optimized for mobile viewing, prepare to lose out on your search ranking.

Mobile may be on the up, but that doesn’t mean desktop is dying out. A typical pattern now being observed is people begin searches on their phone but pick up from where they left off later on their desktop. It has now gone beyond mere bookmarking; Mac iOS introduced ‘hand-off’, which makes switching content between devices pretty seamless.

In essence, what Google and Apple are doing is gearing up their products to work in harmony with our own user journeys. They know a better user experience strikes straight at the very heart of loyalty.

What this means for 2016 marketing

It’s time to get more mobile focused. Phones are now, more often than not, the first place people will look for information. If your content is not mobile responsive, a whole audience segment may just pass you by. The same goes if you still have a reliance on traditional desktop ads.

2. Attention spans are growing

In the top 500 most-saved articles on Pocket from the first half of 2015, the average article length is 3,190 words, taking about 15 minutes to read. That may come as a surprise when we are continually led to believe attention spans are now dead.

In fact, Google’s own Matt Cutts is now recommending a minimum of 600-700 words for content in order to keep webpages in the search engine’s favour.

The simple fact is people want to engage with stories. This is the way it has always been and digital marketing is now beginning to wake up to it. In fact, 69% of marketers are now creating more content than last year, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

At the same time, uptake has shot up on visual networks such as Instagram and Snapchat, demonstrating variety really is the best policy.

What this means for 2016 marketing

People do not like to be sold to but they do like to buy based on their own decision-making. Content marketing is the most effective way of educating, inspiring and entertaining. It is no longer an aspect of digital marketing; it’s now mainstream and the successful brands will be those fully embracing it in 2016.

3. Pull don’t push

One-way message broadcasting is the old school of marketing. Brands are now closing the gap between themselves and the consumer by becoming more empathetic and speaking more to their needs, values and aspirations. In a world where consumer voice is louder than ever, authenticity will resonate far more than forced messages.

A steep rise in native advertising was also seen in 2015. This is content produced by a brand that fits with the style of the platform on which it’s hosted. Whereas advertorials were previously the go-to approach, this type of sponsored content has the intent purpose of generating interest and discovery, without the hard sell.

2015 also saw an explosion in user generated content (UGC). UGC is the ultimate of involving an engaging and individual. Why have a passive content consumer when they can actively do the marketing for you? UGC campaigns are often run in the form of a contest to provide that extra incentive to participate. The mobile company 3 pulled this off to great success in 2015 when they asked people to post their ‘holiday spam’ photos in celebration of 3’s scrapping holiday roaming charges.

What this means for 2016 marketing

People now have little tolerance for blatant self-serving advertising. However, educational, helpful, inspirational and down-right entertaining content will act to bring potential prospects closer. It’s the human approach that will win over customers in 2016.

4. Be in the moment

Even the best content can be seen as ‘spammy’ if it’s outside the interest area of an individual. In fact, almost two thirds of people globally are interested in technology that automatically filters content so they only see what they want and what’s relevant to them (Digital Trends 2015, Microsoft).

However, if we only use the capabilities of digital technology to explore our immediate interests, we’re greatly restricting ourselves from discovery opportunities. That is why brands are also now realizing the importance of feeding our passions and inquisitiveness; those that can make worthwhile recommendations will be seen as more valuable.

What this means for 2016 marketing

Understanding how to grab and hold attention via relevant content is going to become even more important for marketing effectiveness. This requires a mix of both creativity and data. Brands need to create stronger, more personalized experiences by combining user preference data with the right messages. Successful implementation will rely on the ability to tag user interests and gain an understanding of a prospect’s digital profile.

It should be noted that traditional adverts can still be welcome and of benefit to people, if shown in the right moments.

5. Rise above the noise

The problem with the popularity of content marketing is there’s now so much out there vying for attention. There are two main solutions that marketers have been turning to increasingly over the past year:

  1. Pay networks to get your content sponsored. Social spend is on the rise as networks are now commodotizing attention. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as your money pays for the right level of targeting. By utilizing the vast pool of data networks hold, you can ensure you can be in the right moment (see number 4 above).
  2. Seek other platforms with less noise. The Microsoft Digital Trends 2015 survey found an increase of respondents saying they now interact on smaller networks. Consumers are increasingly looking for more specialist information and advice to aid their decision-making process. In the survey, 55% of respondents say they are more likely to interact with brands through specialist services.

What this means for 2016 marketing

Marketers will now need to find new ways of blending their content distribution to hit the right targets and positively stand out. There will become more opportunities for engagement on networks catering for specialized topics.

6. The ad revolution

It is now undisputable; people find ads irrelevant and annoying. They have now voted with their feet- and fingertips. Ad blocking grew by 82% in the UK over the last year and 41% globally at a cost of $22bn to publishers worldwide (The 2015 Ad Blocking Report, PageFair). We are now suddenly in an age where consumers have the control.

With the advent of iOS9, iphones now come with ad blocking capabilities as standard. Plus Apple’s Safari introduced readability mode, where all the clutter is removed, just leaving the text.

Once again, it is user experience that is winning out above all else.

The current responses to combat ad blocking by many publishers is to appeal to visitors to switch off their ad block or even restrict access to content. For example, is now offering an ‘ad-light’ version of the site for 30 days when you turn off the ad blocker.

What this means for 2016 marketing

Restriction does not make for happy consumers. Publishers and marketers will need to work together to create new user experiences that offer a greater amount of personalization so that ads can be served at the right place and time.

Publishers may try and appeal to ad blockers to find out what ads would be of interest to them. However, native advertising and sponsored posts look likely to become more favourable options for many advertisers that are ready to shift their paradigm.

7. Seeing is understanding

Videos provide an unrivalled means of telling a story, educating and entertaining. Video content continues to grow in popularity, with YouTube being the second largest search engine after Google.

In 2015 video has taken on a new lease of life as technology and internet speeds now make it possible for social networks to offer their own hosted videos. As such, Facebook has now surpassed YouTube in the number of daily video views according to comScore. Instagram, LinkedIn and Tumblr are also following suit.

4G networks and more accessible wifi now make viewing mobile videos far easier, with plays increasing by 74% in 2015 (Marketing Magazine).

Native video advertising is also on the rise. This has potential to turn an advert into an enjoyable experience- just look at what Microsoft did:

What this means for 2016 marketing

Quite simply, more videos. However Marketers will benefit from exploring beyond YouTube to find other outlets where videos can impact new audiences.

It’s clear we’ve seen a real shift towards a far more user-centric experience throughout 2015. What this means in reality is brands and marketers are going to have to revisit some of their strategies and question the effectiveness of old ways.

In 2016 we should expect to see far more uptake of new technologies such as augmented reality, NFC (Near Field Communication) and even virtual reality. How these change the marketing landscape is yet to be seen but one thing is for sure, we can expect brands to be creating more interactive and immersive experiences that turn even the most routine of marketing techniques into something you really don’t see everyday.

Here at Scicasts, we will be bringing you the latest marketing insights throughout the year, so go ahead and subscribe below to keep up with what we have in store.