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Key Digital Marketing Trends 2016 Review

We’re into the fourth month of 2016 and have had time to digest the annual digital trend predictions for the year. The highlighting of specific digital trends always throws up challenges for clients and agencies to align new opportunities with overall objectives without getting carried away with general and sometimes misleading buzzwords. I’ve taken some time to review some of the key digital marketing trends in relation to the search, paid and performance channels with a wider view based on client perception and overall digital strategies. I’ll be covering the following key trends and topics over a number of posts throughout April:

  • Part 1 – Big Data
  • Part 2 – Mobile Marketing
  • Part 3 – Content Marketing
  • Part 4 – Digital Strategy Trends
  • Part 5 – Digital Technology Trends


Part 1: Big Data:

Big Data has been discussed as a trend for a number of years with very little drilldown as to what it means and how it can be of benefit within marketing strategies. The ability of being able to collect and store vast amounts of data across multiple platforms relating directly to marketing activity and consumer targeting has led to just that, vast amounts of data being collected and stored. The dream is often to track customer X right across an omnichannel marketing strategy so you have an idea of what every customer, or even potential customer, is doing. This is possible to a point but how useful is it to collect such vast amounts of data? There are a few key points to consider to make sense and benefit from this ‘trend’:

  • Multi-channel attribution: It is possible to assign a user ID to users of a website and use the ID to attribute behaviour across multiple channels and devices to that specific user. The dependencies for this currently lead to a limited sample of web users with accurate applicable data but this is the key element to realising the dream of tracking the behaviour of individual users.
  • Analysing the complete funnel: With user ID tracking in place there is then the possibility to map the complete online journey of a user or to identify patterns for particular marketing activity in terms of engagement and conversions.
  • Integration of data sets across platforms: By tying user IDs across platforms including Google Analytics and internal CRM and database systems a fuller journey can be plotted including initial capturing of a customer through to repeat purchase or conversion and lifetime value.
  • Data storage and Safe Harbour: With the above comes a warning that at each stage there needs to be key considerations for the storage of data especially with recent news that the “safe harbour” agreement is no longer valid. There are also future considerations around data storage based on the increasing requirement to store vast amounts of data which will only increase exponentially based on the communication of devices, systems and networks and the expansion of trends such as the IoT and Smart Cities. The cloud is not infinite, it is still a bunch of servers in a big room somewhere so there will be an ongoing necessity to streamline data storage.
  • Useful and Manageable Data: The above points bring us to the reality, data capabilities are huge but the data needs to be useful to the business needs and manageable based on the business infrastructure. Efficient data analysis and targeting is key.

Final thought on ‘Big Data’:

Stop calling it ‘Big Data’, as a term it is meaningless and in my experience has been used as a dangerous buzz word. Think along the lines of useful and manageable data. Data segmentation is key to targeting the customer and using the vast amounts of data available. By starting with the largest segments e.g. demographics, channel, location etc. and drilling down to more related, specific segments data can become more useful and manageable without being overwhelming and misleading. It can then be related to the customer you would like to target as well as identifying your current customer profile.

For more information contact our Analytics & Conversion Team

Useful reading:


Big Data at Work: Dispelling the Myths, Uncovering the Opportunities – Thomas H. Davenport

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work and Think – Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Kenneth Cukier


Occam’s Razor –

Smart Insights –


Safe Harbour context –

Data storage considerations –

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