Social advertising made huge gains in 2015, and with Instagram and Pinterest poised to emerge full-on, we’re looking at bigger things for 2016. We canvassed our 3Q experts to find out their predictions for the single biggest story to come in the year ahead.

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Director of Social Brad O’Brien:

I believe marketing sophistication will be the most important factor of social marketing in 2016. Big wins are going to be harder to come by in performance social. In just two years (2013 to 2015), advertisers doubled their social ad dollars, which means we’re competing in an increasingly competitive marketplace by the day. Brands and agencies that ramp up data and audience segmentation analyses, cross-device strategy, and attribution analytics will see the most success. 

 

Account Lead Kendra Pennington:

The most important factor will be for companies to tie the mobile ad experience to their mobile landing and conversion experience. At every conference for social this year, speakers drilled home how much mobile usage is increasing. Companies need to absorb that this doesn’t just mean that they need to be advertising in the mobile space… they need to also create a seamless mobile experience. 

 

Facebook is increasing the types of ad units that are available on a mobile device, which makes our clients want to try these out.  We also see inventory that is cheaper and often see click-through rates that are higher.  But the big gap occurs when companies do not spend resources on developing their mobile experience.  Consumers expect it, competitors are doing it, and regardless of how many mobile ad clicks you are getting, users will not convert if the experience is bad.  Often, clients want to try out other social platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, which are primarily mobile-usage based.  Campaigns on platforms such as these just won’t perform without a rich mobile landing experience.  So my prediction for the most important factor for social marketing in 2016 is the separation of true players in the mobile landscape.

 

Sr. Social Account Manager Mike Nguyen:

I think the biggest factor in 2016 for social marketing will be the explosion of video. Although most channels have some video option currently, I still see huge room for growth in terms of the way advertisers leverage video for social marketing. We’re already starting to see banner ads be usurped by their younger, better, and more sophisticated evolutions (example: carousel ads, slideshow ads, and video ad for website conversions on Facebook). Banner ads to me are the magazine print ad of past years.

 

Tomorrow’s ads will increasingly be more interactive, more engaging, and more personalized. I sometimes think of scenes from Harry Potter where you have moving, talking magazines – as ridiculous as it sounds, I think social marketing in a couple years is not far off from that. The lines between ads and content will also be blurred depending on how well video creatives are done. I see a lot of inspiration from the presidential race – lots of videos are being posted that start as an infographic and end up being ads promoting certain candidates. The biggest thing holding advertisers back is the initial costs of video production, but I think 2016 will be when advertisers realize that their creative strategy needs to account for both banner and video strategies. 

 

Sr. Ad Operations Manager Clark Sioson:

Advertisers will finally drink the Facebook Kool-Aid and embrace the idea that there’s value in a click that does not always lead to direct conversions. This will lead to a shift in thinking on how we properly attribute conversions in social ads, especially cross-device attribution.

 

Social Account Manager Deepika Patel:

The continued expansion for video across all social platforms. From full-length videos to the new slideshow format available on Facebook, we continue to see improved video capabilities across platforms. Increase in video use has also largely been affected by the shift of increased mobile usage from users. With these two factors, advertisers will need to adjust their “game plan” for their social presence to include both attributes so as to appear native within social performance, limiting disturbance to the user experience. Creative storytelling through video will also play a huge part with sharing your brand’s voice and should be considered throughout all your advertising plans, creating a unifying experience across all channels and not just social.

 

Social Account Coordinator Elizabeth Ninivaggi:

I believe the more streamlined leads and purchase process such as the “Buy Now” CTA features available on Facebook and beta on Pinterest will eventually spread to other platforms. This will not only enable brands to see more direct sales and conversions from social but legitimize social platforms on the same level as Amazon and other e-commerce sites.

 

Social Account Manager Mike Stetzer:

Competition has increased dramatically over time. A big component of this has been the drastic decline (or slow death) of organic reach on social channels, especially on Facebook. In 2014, studies were showing that organic reach was as low as 4-6%. By 2015, we have every reason to believe that this figure is even lower, which would explain why competition feels as though it’s at an all-time high. The landscape at this juncture is very much “pay-to-play,” and with that comes thousands of advertisers bidding for a spot on our Feeds.

 

The good news is that many of these advertisers are just dipping their toes in the waters of social advertising. In addition to the fact that we’ve been doing this for years, we are constantly testing new ideas and sharing the results with the team. We really don’t know if a new strategy works until we test it, so that’s why methodical testing, sharing results, and attention to detail via analytics (cross-device, attribution, etc.) is critical. 

 

Social Account Manager James Houchin:

I think that we’re going to see a number of organizations change their attribution models. Facebook’s lift tests are one way marketers can measure Facebook’s impact, but we need to do more. Click-only tracking becomes difficult in a multi-device, multi-channel world. Companies that can measure the entire customer journey, effectively, will reap the most rewards.

 

What are your predictions for the year ahead? Leave a comment!

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Jonathan Svilar
joined 3Q Digital in August of 2013 with a background of sales and marketing in the dynamic live concert industry. Jonathan graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Literature and Philosophy and a passion for technology. In his spare time, Jonathan is an avid motorcyclist, San Francisco Giants fan, and the proud parent of a fuzzy bunny and a dog.