Did Our 2016 Marketing Predictions Pan Out? Hell yeah, they did!

Every year end at Acquisio, we round up digital and local marketing experts to chime in on what’s to come in the year ahead. Last year, the expert’s predictions did not disappoint! But don’t take our word for it, read what the insiders’ themselves have to say in their post-year review.

And be sure to pick up the Digital & Local Marketing 2017 Predictions eBook for 2017 insights from 15 industry insiders.

Brad Geddes, AdAlysis

In 2016, we’ll see more 1st and 3rd party data brought into AdWords for custom targeting.

I have to say, I got this one really right. In 2016, Google launched:

  • Similar lists for RLSAs
  • RLSAs supported for Search partner sites
  • Campaign level RLSAs (beta)
  • Similar lists for Customer Match expanded to YouTube and GMail
  • Demographic bidding for search
  • Cross device remarketing

Hit the nail on the head, there!

2016 Prediction: Also in 2016, companies will start testing mobile ads and pages completely separately from their desktop ad and page tests.

Another correct prediction 🙂 Google launched device modifiers in 2016, which made it easy to completely separate your mobile and desktop campaigns. This led to an easy way to test mobile ads and landing pages apart from their desktop landing pages. While companies were slow to adopt mobile preferred ads, we’ve seen many more companies treat mobile and desktop experiences completely differently.

Enterprise companies will build systems in-house (and not with agencies) to better adapt to data driven customer journeys.

This prediction let me hit the trifecta! This is a slow shift, not a fast one, and it’s one that will continue for the next several years (it could be a lazy 2017 prediction as well since I think this will continue). Agencies are having a hard time supporting tech-savvy enterprise companies since they don’t get the full picture of how the entire digital marketing ecosystem and customer journey is happening for a single company. Enterprise companies aren’t leaving their agencies in large numbers yet, they are often using their agency as a point player or external team. Agencies have to adapt to this shift, and a few are already starting to change how they work with large clients to accommodate these changes.

Larry Kim, WordStream

PPC marketers should prepare for 2016 ad campaigns to look and feel more like what you might expect to see in a marketing automation drip campaign.

This year, ad platforms rolled out features like Engagement Custom Audiences allowing users to deliver a sequence of ads based on if/when the user saw the previous ad in the sequence. We also see this “drip-campaign” strategy being used in Google remarketing ads where you can target users based on their age in your audience, for example, showing a specific add in days 1-3, then a different ad in days 3-7, etc. So, when you combine these remarketing features with custom audiences, it’s essentially the paid advertising equivalent of marketing automation.

Andrew Goodman, Page Zero Media

The SMB review landscape will change in 2016: we’ll be looking at more “quick and dirty” reviews.

Last year, I predicted that local businesses would get bogged down chasing reputation in review platforms. That’s a longer cycle than just a year, but I’m pretty sure most SMB’s would agree they’re in an awkward position right now. Whether you want it or not, you will wind up being reviewed on Google, probably the least engaged of any of the players when it comes to curating high quality, vertical-specific reviews. Because I’m on the Board of Directors of a review site, HomeStars, I watch the space closely. I can’t disclose confidential product development details, or even talks we’ve had with other players in the space. But it seems clear that the current generation of “Yelp style,” public shaming (or public hooray!) style reviews — while useful and necessary at this stage — will give way to more useful and possibly closed systems that provide a strong, data-driven feedback loop on the value companies provide to their customers.

In higher-priced service areas, the advertising and “worry constantly about your public reviews” model will not go away, but it will be supplemented and someday supplanted by a feedback loop type of system where you as a vendor get access to more leads and more appropriate leads based on an algorithm that takes everything into account, including your behavior in the system and including the customer feedback received. In light of that, public slander (or hooray!) style reviews will seem increasingly quaint. Monetization models for platforms will change, but they will remain robust. We’re seeing some of the big guys starting to build these marketplaces (Amazon, Google, Facebook); time will tell if their models are really suitable for what best connects businesses and consumers, but what they do have is scale.

Aaron Levy, Elite SEM

2016 will see a rise in offline and outside the box tracking methods aka alterna-metrics such as store visit tracking, view-based attribution and cross device influence.

Correct, almost correct and correct! Google improved their store visit metrics throughout 2016 including launching distance reports, AND allowing brands to drive shopping ads to “affiliates,” driving aka stores. Google hasn’t enabled view-based tracking in search campaigns yet, but a change in the GCLID timing announced in mid-October indicates that it’s likely coming soon. Regarding cross device conversions, if you weren’t using them in early 2016 you certainly are at the end! Google announced they’d be auto-including x-device conversions in the conversion column, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I expect mobile and volume growth are going to slow lest engines price their own advertisers out of the marketplace and so engines will have to prove the ads work better than we think they do or find money elsewhere.

Ehhh, yes and no. Google’s Q3 earnings indicate that about 60% of company’s global ad revenue will come from mobile in 2016, up from 46% in 2015. So much for slowing! However the assessment of finding alternatives ways for things to work is reflected above in the change in conversion metrics.

Melissa Mackay, Gyro

In 2016 more technologies like Google’s Customer Match will emerge from multiple sources, enabling advertisers to reach an audience they already know is qualified.

While adoption of Google Customer Match and other audience targeting seemed to increase in 2016, we really didn’t see new sources of customer matching emerge. Facebook and Twitter already had custom audiences prior to 2016; LinkedIn was rumored to be launching a custom audience feature, but it hasn’t materialized yet. There is significant value for advertisers in audience targeting in general, and customer matching specifically, so let’s hope 2017 brings an increase in options for advertisers.

Lisa Raehsler, Big Click Co.

In 2016 SMB’s will grow market share and gain a competitive advantage by 1) being savvy of consumer questions and prepared with answers 2) being on social media to answer questions 3) using in-market audiences, retargeting, and demographic targeting will see positive performance results and 4) leveraging local based advertising.

In 2016, I did see an increase in advertisers using in-market audiences with positive results. Also, being more savvy in mixing and matching various display tactics like demographics and remarketing. Businesses with a local presence also found positive results with call-only campaigns. This combines the power of mobile searches to reach audiences at the exact moment they are searching nearby for a location, product information, or for a service. The ability to click-to-call from PPC can increase inquiries beyond organic search alone.

Read more from these guys and 10 other experts inside this year’s 2017 Predictions eBook here.

Beth Thouin

Beth Thouin

Beth is VP Marketing at Acquisio. With 14 years of marketing experience, in 2011 she started working with startups and tech companies, and never looked back. She consults, mentors and speaks on customer acquisition in the Montreal tech community.

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