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Is it finally the year of mobile? We have been hearing this since the introduction of the smartphone years ago. The use of mobile devices as vehicles for content, communication and efficiency continues to grow as global smartphone penetration maintains double-digit growth for the near future.
Mobile is not a channel; it is a way of living. As a result, the data that can be derived, analyzed, matched and utilized for overall campaign and audience optimization is impressive -- all from a single device.
As the year comes to a close, here are five top trends for mobile and data science for 2016:
1. Marketers begin adopting beacon proximity signals. Proximity signals -- indicators of when users are close to a beacon or a sensor -- will replace our current fascination with location signals derived from our mobile devices and GPS. Indoors, beacons can be more accurate than GPS, but devices and SDKs (software development kits) are still needed to pick up the broadcast signal coming from the beacon and transmit it to the cloud. This doesn't mean that our reliance on GPS location signals for mobile marketing will suddenly divert to sensor data, yet. Advances in beacon technology and growth in marketer awareness will make it a solution that early adopters or new marketers will incorporate in their 2016 plans.
2. Mobile audience modeling and prospecting get more sophisticated. The ability to grow a brand's audience will come from converting prospects rather than retargeting existing customers. Mobile audience models will get more sophisticated, and marketers will combine behavioral and geolocation signals to find new audiences on mobile devices. Currently, finding new audiences on mobile is limited to a "birds of a feather flock together" approach, using location data as the connection. New models will extend current desktop behavioral machine learning approaches to mobile by finding new brand audiences based on the web, app and place behaviors of existing audiences.
3. Advertisers dig into physical and emotional signals from wearables. The growth in wearables has played a huge role in changing the way we manage our health in 2015. This growth in "self data," which includes physical and emotional signals, is just starting to be used for brand messaging and targeting. This data is also extending the ability of neuroscience market research to move beyond panels and studies to quantitative data that is captured in the moment. Marketers will need to keep in mind that we buy wearables because we want to know ourselves and not because we want advertising. We want recommendations for us -- reminders for what we need to do, what we may have forgotten or a nudge to ensure we are staying healthy.
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4. Creative agencies turn to data science to optimize campaigns. With the rise of ad blocking, the expected demise of the desktop banner ad and the growth in mobile video, creative -- and specifically mobile creative -- will be a big theme for 2016. Some say programmatic broke advertising, but programmatic data will allow for the use of current insights to inform creative execution. The use of data science to measure and optimize creative performance will grow, with current creative agencies looking to add data scientists to their roster, either in-house or through partnerships.
5. Cross-device marketing becomes even more prevalent. It's not really about mobile as a silo anymore -- it's about using digital and physical data to reach your audiences wherever they are. Studies in 2015 have already shown that mobile should be not used alone and instead, when part of the overall media mix, enhances other digital and linear channels. The distinction between digital and linear channels will begin to blur by the end of 2016.