Emerging Industry and Tech Trends for 2016

As 2015 is coming to an end and next year’s planning is kicking into full gear, it’s time to take a look at some emerging trends that will rule the digital landscape in 2016.

Different sources have varying perspectives on the top-tier trends, but for the most part everyone can agree that mobile and new gadgets in innovation will top the list. With the endless new devices topping holiday wish lists this season (iPad Pro, anyone?), marketers will definitely be zeroing in on optimizing their mobile platforms, and getting to the forefront of mobile ads.

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In an era where anything and everything is becoming digitalized, it’s important to keep an eye out for technological trends. Virtual Reality and 360 tech has had tons of buzz in 2015; it will be interesting to see where this takes us, and how advertisers will be able to integrate this into their projects.

Similarly, wearable tech like TomTom’s GPS watches will definitely be top of mind for advertisers in 2016. Whether or not the platforms will allow for advertising opportunities is still pending, but given the latest trends of social media brands opening up their platforms for advertisers, it wouldn’t be surprising if we start seeing pop-up advertising on our watches, too.

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Another industry trend that’s particularly interesting is the growing prominence of disruptive competitors, or small niche brands taking on industries dominated by a few key players. Services like Dollar Shave Club and Uber have been extremely successful in staking a claim within industries that have not seen new competitors in quite some time.

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With the emergence of new technologies and companies creating new markets for themselves, marketers will have to work harder than ever to stay ahead of the innovation game. Who knows what platforms will open their doors to advertisers in 2016! As ad-people, we’re staying on our toes, poised to create, to evolve, and to innovate in the name of the ever-changing game.

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The Word of the Year, and What It “Says” About Us

In the bustling chaos of the world, people are constantly trying to speed things up. Remember the days of having to actually dial your friend’s number into your phone? Or better yet, the days when your phone was attached to the wall of your house? Those days weren’t fast enough – cue cell phones. Since then, we’ve continued to innovate – from faster Internet, to faster cars… and now, to even shorter words.

Two years ago, the Oxford Dictionary deemed “selfie” the word of the year. Since then, it has become a word that we all hear a little too often. Taking selfies is a quicker way to capture a moment, and has become a popular photo-taking strategy, even (if not especially) for celebs.

Still, selfies just weren’t fast enough. We have taken our fast-paced lifestyles just a tad bit further (hint: emojis). You know those little icons on the keyboard of your iPhone? Watch out “selfies,” these images have taken the main stage.

A few days ago, the Oxford Dictionary decided that its 2015 word of the year was in fact not a word at all, but an emoji titled “Face With Tears of Joy”. The emoji was deemed the most used of 2015 and Oxford Dictionary says it is the “word that best reflected the ethos, mood and preoccupations of 2015”.

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Oxford Dictionary’s backing of the “word” confirms that people can (and do) now use emojis as a form of communication, in the way that traditional written characters once pioneered the sharing of ideas. In the social media world, this is a huge hit. Take Twitter, for example, which limits the number of characters allowed in a tweet. Emojis, only count as one character, but may convey a message worthy of much more; therefore we are no longer hindered by a character count when communicating a complex message.

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While some are concerned that people are reverting back to the time of hieroglyphs, as for now, we’re staying tuned for the word of the year in 2016. Who knows, it might just be a smell.

Content without Borders

Moments after the Paris attacks were reported the night of Friday, November 13, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook were flooded with messages and images in response to the atrocity. Reflection, prayer, disappointment, and anger were all seen throughout the digital space. Facebook soon offered users an option to overlay a French flag on their profile picture in support of the French.

A particular image, however, was soon showing up online more than any other. It’s a rough watercolor sketch of the Eiffel Tower bisecting a circle: a simple representation of peace for Paris, and a depiction of the tenacious hope and optimism felt throughout the world.

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Its creator is 32-year-old French designer and illustrator Jean Jullien. In an interview with Wired, Jullien stated that he began the sketch moments after hearing about the attacks and that “It was done on my lap, on a very loose sketchbook, with a brush and ink…I didn’t do any sketches…It was more an instinctive, human reaction than an illustrator’s reaction.”

The sketch, posted to Jullien’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, went viral. As of November 17, his posts have received:

  • Twitter: 60,000 re-tweets and 45,000 likes
  • Facebook: 28,552 shares and 24,518 likes
  • Instagram: 166,000 likes and 3,692 comments

1Instagram posted the image to its own account on Friday, receiving over 1.4 million likes.

These statistics, however, don’t take into account the immense number of shares and posts that used Jullien’s art through a screen-shot or after personal editing, whether credited or not.

In stark contrast with recent battles about accreditation of content on social media, Jullien was happy to have people around the world editing and recreating his work or using it on shirts—with or without credit: “The fact that people shared it and used it, well, in a way that’s all for the better. It’s an image for everyone. It’s a communication tool…”

In an Instagram post, uploaded Monday morning, Jullien thanked the world for their messages of support for Paris. He iterated that he created the image for Paris, for the victims, and for their families. “It’s a sign for everybody to share and show their support and solidarity,” he says. “It’s a peace sign for all the other cities and countries around the world affected by such nonsense and violence…”

If there’s any question about the influence of social media within our global society, this weekend and the aftermath of the Paris attacks were unfortunate indications. Jean Jullien himself is a selfless reminder that social media is not always about promotion, sales, or getting the most engagement; sometimes, a simple message unites us all with the best of intentions.

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Creatures of Habit

With new controversial decisions made by Twitter and Starbucks, consumers are flustered over one thing—change.

We’re sure you’ve heard the buzz. It’s the holiday season and Starbucks lovers waited a whole year for their holiday cups. To their dismay, the cups were just red. No fun winter or Christmas designs… just plain, old, red. And even though the company has stated that they “wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories,” for consumers, it’s still not enough.

 

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Another tragic thing happened recently… There’s no more “favoring” tweets with stars. Twitter is all about “likes” and hearts, now. Twitter lovers are enraged:

 

 

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This leaves us stirring over one big question: why do we consumers resist change?

It’s mostly because we are creatures of habit. We live in a society that is very emotionally connected to brands. (Which, as marketers, we can pat ourselves on the back for). Thus when something about a brand identity shifts, consumers may respond with uncertainty. For example, Twitter was unique with its “favorites” function as compared to Facebook and Instagram. According to the tweet above, “favorites” meant something to people that “likes” just don’t. And with Starbucks, the holiday red cup designs became something little that consumers looked forward to, just like the “PSL.”

As we’ve seen with Twitter and Starbucks and other brands like Google, change happens. And oftentimes, it’s the driving force behind industry trends. Is Starbucks’ “inclusive” maneuver representative of a larger packaging industry trend? Is Twitter’s redesigned mechanism for appreciation going to spur changes in other similar forums? Time will tell. But for now, we can’t help but still “heart” our lattes, by any other packaging still as sweet.

Are the Jingle Bells Being Rung Too Early?

As we pointed out a couple weeks ago, year after year, the holly jolly season makes a grand entrance sooner and sooner. With marketers hopping on board to grab the attention of their target consumers, initiatives are consistently being pushed to bring the merry spirit to life earlier in the year. But how early is too early for the Christmas Creep?

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For brands, it makes total sense to hook consumers with deals and steals through early-on initiatives. In a study done in 2014 by the Harvard Business Review, nearly 60 percent of shoppers started buying for the holidays as early as September and October. What’s drawing these people into the pre-pre-pre-holiday madness? The benefits.

Both consumers and brands get huge takeaways from more holiday-focused shopping. More time to buy means higher customer satisfaction: fewer items out-of-stock, less risk of shopping chaos, and a larger period of time to institute sales and POP deal opportunities throughout the span of three months. So at the end of the day, the few who continue to complain about the early arrival of Christmas are trumped by the rise of those who don’t mind the early, themed holiday pushes – and sure as heck take advantage it.

What about those companies who don’t conform to the preemptive holiday craziness? One company that continues to fight the Christmas Creep is Nordstrom, who continuously, year after year, decides to hold off on holiday marketing and decorating until after Thanksgiving, earning the respect of those still willing to enjoy the little bit of fall that lingers in November before Christmas season officially hits in December.

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Will there be any “bah humbug” critics of this year’s Christmas Creep? Or have we all succumbed to the allure of the months-long bargains and early-released holiday shopping campaigns?

Tell us what you think: bring on the bargains or hold off on the holidays?

Virtual reality — the future for brand-to-consumer storytelling?

Virtual reality, a fairly new thing for most, is a 3D reality of an environment that imitates physical presence in places that exist elsewhere in the world or in an imaginary place. Mostly known as a new platform for video games, virtual realities are also becoming very popular in marketing and journalism, with the potential to be the new form of storytelling. You can experience virtual realities with a pair of Oculus glasses or with something as simple as a Google Cardboard. With this technology, you can watch videos to see, connect and experience life elsewhere in the world on a completely different level.

Can you imagine what life is like as a nine-year-old in South Sudan, displaced by warfare? Well, now you can – thanks to the New York Times Virtual Reality app, which shares the stories of three children in eastern Ukraine, Syria and South Sudan.

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Can you imagine what the life of a ballerina is like? Or what about an experiential virtual reality where you walk into a store, try on a winter jacket and take a quick trip to the South Pole? A North Face store in South Korea created a virtual experience for its shoppers to experience what it would be like to wear the jacket on a dog sledding ride.

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With these novel uses of a just-as-novel technology, consumers have the opportunity to be completely transported. If advertising can pull at the heartstrings, virtual realities can impose more literal experiences – be they emotional, tactile, or the like – on people. Point of purchase tactics have immense potential for growth with VR, as do activations and other brand-to-consumer interactions, something we specialize in here at CBC. With North Face exemplifying the trend of brands using technologies to engage on closer, more intimate levels with consumers, we’re eager (and, honestly, a little wary!) to see what’s to come.

Advertising Through AdBlock Plus

Companies such as Instagram and SnapChat have taken their widely successful social media apps and managed to turn them into money-making advertising machines. By launching services that integrate company-generated content into the interfaces, these mobile applications are able to capitalize upon their preexisting user-base through compensation by advertisers.

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The newest company to monopolize on their users is AdBlock Plus, a download that blocks annoying pop-ups and allows users to bypass YouTube’s pre-video advertisements. Because of ad-blocking extensions, ignoring online advertising is easier than fast-forwarding through commercials. Eyeo GmbH, the makers of the popular download, are trying to make money off of their new program, ‘Acceptable Ads’. This would allow companies to pay and have their ads bypass the blocker, as long as they adhere to a set of guidelines.

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This new program allows AdBlock Plus to make the most of its pre-existing user base by charging advertisers to ensure that their messages are reaching their target. The sole reason to download an ad blocker is to eliminate exactly what they are trying to sell: ads. Having paid content on SnapChat and Instagram has so far been well received, as the ads don’t seem to interfere with user experience. However, users who are accustomed to an ad-free experience may find this new program disruptive and counterproductive. Since selling ad space to companies defeats the whole purpose of an ad blocker, it’s unclear how the company will fare in upcoming talks with publishers, considering its now roundabout, slightly oxymoronic chain of operations.

Twitter Implements Campaign Donation Button

In an age of encroaching technological prowess, it makes sense to think that someday soon we’d be able to make political donations through the social media world. Well, that “someday” has come a bit sooner than we’d anticipated—and the opportunities are endless.

Last week, Twitter teamed up with mobile payment company Square to create a user-friendly donation system for political campaigns. To make it work, campaigns must set up a Square Cash account, which will then give them a username called a #cashtag. When the #cashtag is tweeted, a big blue button that says “Contribute” appears in users news feeds. Twitter users who click “Contribute” will be redirected to a page where they can donate with a credit card. Users will also have to input other information required by the FEC, such as full name and address.

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With this advancement to the technology and interface of Twitter, campaigns are no longer limited by the amount of donors they can reach via e-mail lists. Now, campaigns can simply post a donation tweet and leverage the power of re-tweets from celebrities and social influencers. This will allow campaigns to reach audiences they could have never imagined. It’s almost, dare we say it, a presidential feat in terms of the ways politicians are tackling the evolving and ever-interactive social media front to their benefits.

Will the new campaign donation button feature turn Twitter’s environment into an Amazon.com-like spending frenzy? Or will the luddites prevail, the system pestered with the skepticism of the grouchy political pundit? As seamless as it’s become, honestly—will you be more likely to donate?