Google will be the “most important partner” in online retail strategy in 2016, or that’s what 86% of marketers think, according to new research by Greenlight into major anxieties and opportunities for the new year.

Questioning of 100 marketers found Google to be widely seen as ‘most supportive’ of advertising strategies.  

However, attitudes towards the search giant are bittersweet, with the majority of the group expressing concerns over the power it wields.

Data anxiety

In Greenlight’s survey, Facebook (71%) and Twitter (69%) came in as the next most-supportive companies for retailers. Both have recently launched ‘buy buttons’ for instant shopping – the former launching ‘Canvas’ product adverts and a Shopping Feed – yet anxieties remain over the global reign of such ‘tech giants’.

The growing dominance of technology companies such as Yahoo! and Apple has made 57% of marketers sceptical over how their partners use their data, while just under a third (32%) have concerns about overreliance on their services.

Despite these worries, data-heavy innovations such as social commerce (52%), location-based marketing (49%) and predictive targeting 43%) remain slated as the most rapid growth trends next year.

Greenlight claims the most popular tactic being deployed in marketing personalisation is location targeting, with 42% of the group being adopters of this. Another two thirds (33%) are split between targeting by age groups and by purchase intent.

Getting personal

Interestingly, Greenlight co-founder and COO Andreas Pouros agrees that marketers should be concerned about the power of tech companies, while urging marketers to exercise caution when adopting new data-led strategies going into 2016.

“Before investing, consider your next move carefully. Question whether new tools and services will really impact your business and how much value investment in these areas will deliver,” says Pouros.

When asked what skills they would most like to learn in 2016, 59% said ‘data analysis’, while over half (52%) mentioned better content optimisation. Pouros adds that marketers must have the skills to handle new technologies before applying them, or look for a partner who does.

“The responsibility is on each marketer to realise what they need to shift the need; invest, upskill or partner depending on the needs of your business,” states Pouros.