As 2016 comes to an end, there were plenty of trends that captured the marketing world. The past year saw new opportunities for marketers to become creative with the likes of wearables, live video streaming, and virtual reality shaping form in the advertising community. The projected advertising spending is expected to reach an all-time high this year, and with digital advertising spending most likely overtaking TV ad spending for the top spot in 2016, it comes as no surprise that the top trends circled around digital.

Digital Advertising         

Digital has become the new norm when it comes to campaigns as the total for US digital ad spending is at $72.09 billion in 2016, up nearly 5% from 2015. All across the board, industries have increased digital ad spending with multiple increasing by double-digit percentages. Retail is leading the way with 21.9% of total digital ad spending, while automotive (12.7%) and financial services (12.2%) round out the top 3. As 82% of marketers say their online and offline marketing tactics are entirely or partially integrated, B2B marketing in 2016 also showed 77% had digital as a high priority, while offline marketing was at 23%. With a lot of success, comes a few that stood out and exceeded expectations.

Mobile Advertising

The investment in mobile advertising has seen a drastic year to year improvement with US mobile ad spending totaling $45.95 billion, a 45% increase from 2015. This will account for 23.5% of the total ad market and the prediction is that it will continue double-digit rates through 2020. Mobile display formats, banners, rich media, sponsorships, video and other options, will total $23.60 billion in 2016. That will account for 51.4% of total mobile spending. Success in mobile advertising can be due to improvements in programmatic buying. The past year saw a huge increase in programmatic ad display as it will account for 51% ($39 billion) of display ad spending globally, which in 2012 it was at 13% or $5 billion. The idea of programmatic has expanded as it is being more efficient by targeting individuals in creative way. With expected growth, the US is the biggest programmatic ad market accounting for 62% ($24 billion) of total global programmatic ad spend as the UK ($3.3 billion) and China ($2.6 billion) sit second and third, respectively. Google ($14.69 billion), Facebook ($10.41 billion), and Twitter ($1.18 billion) will be this year’s top 3 largest mobile ad publisher. Snap chat became the surprising advertising platform with the expansion of ad products such as video ads, sponsored geofilters and lenses, eMarketer expects Snap chat mobile display ad revenue to be around $348.4 million in 2016. Still far from the top 3, Snap chat has invested in an expansion of its API technology that makes it more of an attractive platform for advertisers in the near future.

Digital Video

 One that saw significant increases in campaign marketing effort was video. According to eMarketer, Programmatic Digital Video Ad Spending, not including any social media platforms, rose from $3 billion in 2015 to $6.18 billion this past year with expected year over year increase going forward. The dominating factor was largely due to YouTube as it consisted of 20.9% of all US video ads in 2016. Overall, video will account for 14.3% of ad spending in 2016, which is up from 12.8% in 2015. A measurement from 2016 2nd quarter showed the ads are being viewed on a number of platforms as Desktop/Laptop led the way at 34%, over-the-top (OTT) video devices at 23%, and Smartphone (18%), VOD units (17%), and Tablet (8%) rounded out the top-5. Forbes recently came out with an article to show that video should be a necessity when it comes to planning a campaign as digital videos are proving to be effective. Video marketing has proven to be an effective marketing tactic:

  1. Online video now accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic
  2. 60% of marketers use video in their marketing
  3. Including video in an email leads to 200-300% increase in CTR
  4. On Facebook, video posts have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts

There was also an increase in confidence from ad agencies on the ROI from digital video ad purchases. As almost a year to year survey showed that in 2016, 58.6% of ad agencies feel “Fairly Confident” compared to 45% in 2015 in video ad ROI, while 2016 saw a 1% increase in “Very Confident” and a decrease in “Unsure” and “Do not think I’m getting good value”. Including that 63.9% of ad agency executives in 2016 felt the need to extend video buys into premium digital video, up from 48% in 2015, only showed that digital video became a top priority and a proven a necessity for campaigns in 2016.

Top 2016 Trends

Live Video Streaming

The past year saw digital video take over with the help from live video streams from Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. The live video trend this past year was started by Twitter-owned Periscope, but have seen the movement occur on Facebook, Tumblr, AOL-owned Kanvas, YouTube Love, Instagram, and others. Live video streaming provides content as well engages with consumers in real time. It gives marketers plenty of opportunities from live Q&A to providing incentives to tune in on a live show. As digital video is beginning to take off, this has added another dimension.

Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality

Pokémon Go, the augmented reality app that took the nation by storm with over 100 million downloads, may have started a new wave of opportunities for marketers. In 2016, virtual reality and augmented reality became a top trend due to its attraction to interact and provide a different ad experience to consumers. There was opportunity like augmented reality, a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment, and virtual reality that provides three-dimensional simulations of actual locations. Both, VR and AR, grant the consumer real-life experience. As Pokémon Go gained popularity, it brought about an opportunity for local businesses to market their products and shops through the app and other creative ways. VR has a competitive advantage over other media forms in that it provides immersive content that allows brands to place users in scenarios and surround them with what it may be like to use or purchase a product. The downside of VR is its monetary value as the year’s sales of VR headsets and software are expected to reach $1 billion. With that being said, YouTube’s 360-degree ads generated 20 million views as brands like Gatorade, Mini USA and Nike posted films on it. Facebook has also allowed users to view and upload 360-degree photos. VR was definitely a new and innovative marketing tactic that became a top trend this past year and will likely make more of surge in the coming years.


With mobile advertising being a top trend for marketers to spend their money, wearables became a popular commodity in 2016 with a potential market for advertisers to tap in to. Consumers were able to download apps that allowed them to monitor their overall health or be used for daily phone updates such as text messages or phone calls. Either way, wearables are able to track data that can be used on different marketing platforms. Healthcare is the first that come to mind where the data tracked may be useful to advertisers to access non-identifiable data sources to better target ads as well as gather trends data on consumers’ daily health habits. With all the hype surrounding wearables and statistics showing a market worth $5.1 billion in 2015 predicting to grow to $18.9 billion in 2020, wearables was unable to gain any traction. The expected growth of more than 60% year-over-year did not live up to expectations due to its high price as the usage of wearables will reach just 15.8% of the population. This past year was a start for wearables as wearable users is up 8%, but it has yet to be seen if it will become a marketing sensation in the future as forecasters predict only a slight incline in usage and users.