To be honest I think that 2016 is probably going to be more of the same but on a much larger scale. The trends that started in 2015 are going to become further entrenched this year. But specifically, what do we foresee?

Paid social will continue to grow

We’ve all seen how Facebook is aggressively throttling the amount of organic communication that brands have with their followers. Facebook says that it is in their users’ best interests and that ultimately it will improve the user experience.

While there is a certain amount of truth to this, the cynic in me says this is just an excuse to further grow their ad revenue. Whatever the real reason though, the reality is that brands will find it harder and harder to engage with their fans and followers organically. So how will brands be able to tap into the power of social media to speak to their markets? They will have to pay. More and more social media platforms are introducing paid solutions – we saw Instagram offering paid ads in October last year, and we will likely see Pinterest following suit this year.

Whilst brands will continue their content strategies and ORM initiatives, we will continue to see more and more brands spending more and more money on social media platforms to reach their target markets. And why should brands pay to reach their audiences? Well because social media is arguably the most targeted media type out there. There is very little that Facebook doesn’t know about you. Even if you declined to tell Facebook what your favourite movies are, or whether or not you are in a relationship, Facebook knows. In fact Facebook probably knows more about you than you do!

And speaking of content …

Increasingly brands will need to start viewing themselves as content publishers, in much the same way as magazines, TV stations and newspapers. The days of shouting at people and interrupting them are over. People no longer want to be spoken at. They want to be engaged with. And what do people engage with these days? Content! That is why the likes of Netflix and Amazon are spending millions investing in their own original programming. It is quite simple…people will pay attention to your “ads” if they are entertaining, engaging or involving.


Following on from the content trend, another growing development that started in 2015 that we envisage will continue in 2016 is the use of video as an ad format. Most of the major social media networks introduced video ad units in 2014 or 2015 and these have been growing in popularity ever since. You can’t scroll through your Facebook or Twitter timelines these days without being exposed to video content.

Research has shown that people are more likely to engage with video content than static content. The best part for advertisers is that it isn’t necessarily going to cost you any more media money to run a video campaign. Recent research from Millward Brown has shown that people are spending a lot more time watching video content on their cell phone or tablet devices in an average day than they are sitting in front of a TV set. So running video campaigns on social media will not only generally get you higher rates of engagement, but you can also augment your TV exposure and potentially extend the reach and frequency of your campaigns by running TV and social video in combination.

Programmatic media

Globally the programmatic trend is taking over the digital space. In many international markets as much as 50% of all digital adspend is taking place programmatically. In South Africa advertisers are only now just starting to get a handle on what programmatic is and what it can do for their brands.

There are a few programmatic solutions in South Africa at the moment, but this will grow in 2016 and we will see more and more digital inventory being traded programmatically.

But it’s not just limited to digital. In the very near future we will start to see TV inventory and digital OOH inventory being bought programmatically too, and that is very exciting indeed.

May 2016 truly be the year of digital.

Edited for length. See the full version here.

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