In 2016, marketing and communications professionals will stop targeting millennials as one demographic and focus on reaching the younger consumers based on their passions, according to a study released today by Hotwire PR.
The agency's seventh annual "Communications Trends Report," which was based on crowdsourced data from 400 communicators across 22 countries, revealed that brands will look to engage consumers with age-agnostic content that emphasizes certain values.
Another key finding from the study is that the industry is not prepared for mobile ad blocking, especially since Apple enabled apps that stop ads from popping up on smartphones and iPads through its iOS 9 operating system. To rise above the ad blocking influx, marketers will need to spend more time on native advertising, sponsored podcasts, influencer partnerships, and experiential efforts, according to the research.
Other key trends for 2016 from the study include:
1. The rise of virtual reality: Consumers are craving more experiences, and while VR will continue building momentum in the gaming and entertainment space, marketers will begin looking at new ways to integrate it into a wide range of content.
2. Using content to compete with Amazon: Brands will use targeted content and campaigns to offer consumers rich experiences that will encourage them to return to their company sites rather than Amazon to make purchases.
3. Real-time rather than planned content: Marketers will focus resources more on real-time content than planned editorial calendars next year.
4. Lots of hyperlocal content: One or two pieces of hyper-targeted content will not be enough for marketers in 2016. They will need to create at least 10 specific messages for each subset group within an audience.
5. Marketing campaigns that provide a service: The most successful campaigns in 2016 will offer relevant and useful services to consumers and society at large.
6. Continued focus on brands as activists: Values will continue to be placed at the center of brands' communications strategies, specifically on major social and political issues.
7. Marketers get a handle on digital video: With more consumers cutting the cord, marketers will use production experts, planners, and accounts teams to figure out which platforms work best for video in 2016.
8. The growth of third-party publishing channels: Brands will still use their websites to post content, but publishing platforms with built in distribution services, such as Medium and LinkedIn Pulse, will become more important for marketing campaigns.