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16 digital marketing opportunities poised to explode in 2016

The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

Social live streaming

Jonathan Long, Market Domination Media
"In 2016 we will see brands leverage the power of social live streaming. The entire world is glued to their mobile devices, and live streaming allows brands to take their audience behind the scenes and directly engage without a huge production cost. It's an incredible platform and I wouldn't be surprised to see many large-scale social streaming events take off in 2016."

The moving picture

Kim Walsh-Phillips, Elite Digital Group
"With the addition of video to Facebook profile pictures, 3D video in timelines, Periscope, Blab, and Facebook Live, mobile video will continue to be a focus point for social media marketing. Brands that want to capitalize on reaching these audiences will need to embrace this trend and create visual video message that entertains, informs, and persuades -- or they are going to be left behind."

User-generated content

Nicholas Haase, Loot!
"Some of the more progressive brands have dabbled in user-generated content (UGC), but nobody outside of Coca-Cola (Share a Coke campaign) have really nailed it. As ad blockers become increasingly effective on mobile and social network advertising, click-through rates continue to drop, UGC will bring an air of authenticity and engage consumers at scale with ease."


Ranan Lachman, Pley
"When an app provides relevant notifications, it reminds customers of your business and eases the experience. It gives them an easy interface to interact with your company, and it's another form of advertising. As a toy rental company, our app allows parents to see which toy is on its way and tell their child when it landed on their doorstep. A great shared experience for both."

Artificial intelligence

Brennan White, Cortex
"Artificial Intelligence for marketing, powered by technologies like IBM's Watson are here, and they will have a huge impact in 2016. Combining analytics (backward-facing) and predictive (forward-facing), and adding a consistent improvement aspect, 'cognitive marketing' and AI will become commonplace in 2016."

Google AdWords Customer Match

Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com
"Two years ago, Facebook launched Facebook Custom Audience. For the lucky few of us who got in early, we crushed it. Just a few weeks ago Google launched a similar product for Google AdWord called Customer Match. The product allows you to upload email lists and exclusively target those lists with advertisements (text ads and banner ads). The conversion rates are extraordinary and so is the ROI."

Real-time communications platforms and podcasting

Sean Kelly, HUMAN
"In 2016, we'll see an explosion in engagement on real-time communications platforms like Periscope, STREAM, Meerkat, and the like. This, combined with the ubiquity of mobile, will create immense competition for brands to win contextual 'micro-moments.' I'm also bullish on podcasting. I think we've only seen the tip of the iceberg, and the category is going to grow 10 times in the next year."


Sean Ogle, Location 180, LLC
"As old school as it might sound, getting personal is going to be big in 2016. The brands that work on deeply connecting and giving personalized information and content to readers and clients are the brands that will win."

Financial exchanges over social media

Shalyn Dever, Chatter Buzz
"Snapchat and Facebook rolled out the option to send money through their platforms, Facebook Messenger and Snap Cash. Other social media apps will follow suit whether it's creating an online marketplace for buying items straight off their app or sending money to friends. New social media apps will integrate this capability too, given the potential for retailer and brand marketing."

Popular Pays

Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
"Popular Pays is an app on Instagram that allows brands to connect with influencers in a very organic manner. For multiple factors including being first to market, it has a real impact and ROI for marketing compared to standard channels. As social media expands, I see this marketing tactic becoming huge quickly."

Digital influencers reloaded

Cody McLain, SupportNinja
"As influencers themselves begin to dwindle in their numbers, and consumers begin to consolidate platforms, the new platforms (like Periscope) will produce a new guard of digital influencers. Brands that cultivate these relationships early are bound to reap a good ROI, as opposed to flailing about on a platform they are not too sure how to operate."

Marketing automation

Erik Severinghaus, Simple Relevance
"There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the new iOS containing ad blocking features. From obstacles like ad blocking to more demanding customers, marketers will be forced to be relevant when reaching customers. This means getting smarter with customer data, using it to automate your messages, and reaching out with only the most relevant content for each individual."

Video-based advertisements

Vishal Shah, NoPaperForms
"Video ads have been around for a while; however, the ad ecosystem is at or near an inflection point, allowing video to potentially overtake mainstream text-based ads. This is evident in the proliferation of products that allow marketers to instantly create video ads and distribution channels that support video-based ads, such as Facebook, YouTube, and most recently, within Google search results."

Programmatic advertising and big data

Dustin Cucciarre, BryghtAds Inc.
"In 2016, programmatic advertising is set to double to $20 billion in ad spending. Programmatic advertising allows the advertisers to set ad campaign KPIs and computer algorithms take care of the heavy work, removing a lot of the finical risk when purchasing ads. If programmatic advertising isn't part of your marketing strategy, I highly recommend you check it out."


Shawn Porat, Fortune Cookie Advertising
"Retargeting is already big, but it's poised to grow even more in the next few years. This is a way for advertisers to gear ads to an audience, that is, highly targeted based on their recent web searches. It's the logical next step in marketing. It's already used by many of the largest retailers, such as Amazon, and with services such as Outbrain, and it's now accessible for smaller businesses too."

Native advertising

Dan Golden, Be Found Online
"Mobile users don't respond to disruptive ads -- and marketers need to adapt. As more content and media is consumed within feeds, digital advertising formats, and content need to follow suit and match native formats. Performance advertisers fear not: with the rise of in-platform 'call-to-action' ad units on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, there's still room for direct response within native ads."

(Article courtesy of iMedia)

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