Two worlds came together in 2015. Technology and advertising combined led to one word on marketers’ lips: Data. More importantly, marketers in 2015 were faced with the challenge of reaching the consumer at the right time with the right content on the right device. And moving into 2016, these challenges aren’t going away. Figuring out how consumers want to be engaged within each of their different environments and understanding the consumer decision journey and path of intent is more important than ever before.  

Our Bing End of Year trends research revealed that ‘Augmented Reality’ was the most searched industry buzzword across the UK in 2015. This was closely followed by ‘Real-time’ and ‘Personalisation’. As the value of consumer engagement increases, the expectation from brands continues to rise. As a result, marketers are looking towards the proliferation of touch points for new opportunities to challenge themselves and the meaning of engagement for brands.

Top five industry buzzwords searched for in 2015:

  • Augmented Reality
  • Real-time
  • Personalisation
  • Content marketing
  • Social marketing 

Looking back at what the UK marketing world has been searching for in 2015, alongside insights from conversations with our customers and partners, we’ve grouped together six predictions for 2016.

Search media spend will surpass TV in 2016

Search accounted for the second highest digital ad spend channel in 2015 – 22% of all digital media spend (IAB). As the industry sector is predicted to grow, 2016 will see search surpass TV budgets in 2016. This reflects the wider trend towards dominance of digital advertising, as brands focus their attention more on data to power ad spend investments outside of the traditional TV package. 

To stay competitive, understanding how best to utilise search within the marketing mix and leveraging insights from this channel will be vital for brands and agencies alike. 

Search will go far beyond the box

2016 will see marketers recognise the ubiquitous nature of search. Search will permeate more devices and services than ever before, becoming smarter and more important as a source of consumer engagement and comprehension. With recent launches such as Windows 10, which sees Bing integrated within the taskbar, the opportunity is ripe.

Moving into next year marketers must recognise the capabilities of search, to harness the pivotal role it plays within in the marketing mix of 2016 and beyond.

Mobile will not solely be about mobility

Next year mobile will no longer be part of the marketing strategy; it will be the marketing strategy. Consumers today prefer to use their mobile device even when not on the move because their digital experience is convenient and more personalised than on the desktop. This year saw Ofcom name the UK a ‘smartphone society’, with a third of internet users pointing to their smartphone as the most important device for going online. Mobiles are fast becoming an extension of self for consumers, creating an arena ripe for personalisation. Marketers should therefore consider how desktop supplements the mobile experience, not the other way round.

Here cross device attribution is important in informing understanding around how the two mediums work hand in hand to operate effectively. 

Voice search will drive new behaviour and understanding for marketers

The rapidly increasing adoption of voice recognition and gesture control demonstrates that consumers today don’t want to rely on typing; they expect to interact with information in more natural ways. As a result, 2016 will see new search behaviours emerge, focused on the conversational nature that voice search seamlessly supports. With digital personal assistants already in pockets, we’re bound to see wider audiences adapting behaviour to utilise this new technology. 

Marketing strategies will be driven by search intelligence

2016 will see search data deliver valuable business intelligence from the spectrum of online interactions to inform marketing strategies. It’s about understanding intent and being empowered to seed the right message, to the right audience, at the right time. In doing so, new advertising models will materialise. For example, geo-targeting consumers based on the location they will be at, rather than the location they are in.

Marketers, by recognising search as a foundation for understanding their audience, can take this a step further by using this intelligence to inform wider business strategy. Brands need to unlock the potential of search data, it’s there waiting for them.

Data will be used to predict outcomes

Search engines are the database of intent. And social networks are the depository of consumer sentiments. Search engines have developed the ability to process, analyse and understand these two information sets together in order to predict intent for future events.  

2016 will see industry leading companies using data to not only understand consumer behaviour now, but importantly, intent for the future. Machine learning models are already beginning to establish themselves within the marketer toolbox but taking this a step further will enable more meaningful connections across platforms. As a result, we’ll see online personalisation strengthen through context to bring it to an idea that’s stronger in theory than in practice. 

Bing Ads is official sponsor of the Performance Marketing Awards‘ tenth anniversary, arriving at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel on April 26 – standards entries close midnight, January 22.