My top 3 things to think about in 2016

Posted by on December 28, 2015 in geeky stuff | 2 comments

My top 3 things to think about in 2016

For some reason a few folks have asked me what I think the year ahead will bring, we also did our annual look ahead review at work for which I submitted a few “things to watch” for 2016… I’m not calling this predictions, just things I think anyone working in social/digital need to think about next year:

1) Ad-mageddon – the continuing rise in ad-blockers (see previous ad-blocker post) will make the move from tech-savvy folks to the mass population – IAB research suggests the rate of growth is accelerating: from 15% in June to 18% in Nov.

As this continues, how will it affect your digital strategy going forward? Are you targeting the right people, given which demographics are more/less likely to block? How will the decline in advertising revenue affect news sites/blogs and others who rely on this source of income? Would your ads pass as “Acceptable Ads“?

2) Private messaging apps rule the world!

We’re already seeing WhatsApp and Snapchat dominate in younger markets, private/ephemeral messaging continues to be popular with news organisations already using it to share stories and gather content.

Are you using it personally and as a business? (most answer yes and no… that says a lot) Have you considered the safeguarding considerations of using a service like these, allowing for direct and possibly untraceable communication with your customers/supporters? How does this affect social listening if you can’t see it? If I was WhatsApp I’d launch paid-for corporate WhatsApp accounts (ie not dependent on a mobile number) with a tool to monitor/interact with your customers for support etc – that’d be the Twitter killer in some ways and a great revenue stream.

3) Facebook video – the YouTube Strikes Back!

Well I had to fit in a Star Wars reference somewhere…  with Facebook pushing hard to own social video content I think two things will happen soon:

1) We must be close to a crunch point of Facebook being sued by content creators who’s original work is copied and shared on Facebook. I frequently see the same thing, without attribution, being posted by different Facebook pages – if you make a living from views on YouTube and your views are disappearing, what would you do? What action would you take if your content was used in this way? Given that it often takes 2-3 days for take down requests to be actioned, which is too late for something that has gone viral – is it watermarked or has clear branding on it?

2) YouTube as a channel fights back – I’m not sure how this might happen or what they can do… if people are on FB, using FB video… but perhaps we’ll see new distribution partnerships or formats – will we see channels tied in to YouTube exclusives?

That’s it. Love to know your thoughts and things you’re keeping a close eye on – Happy New Year y’all!


  1. Interesting. I think that, related to both 1 and 3, content being taken INSIDE social networks (Facebook’s Instant Articles, Google’s AMP, and whatever Twitter come up with to compete) will be a big thing for anyone publishing. I’m not sure how this will affect charities, perhaps it will get harder to be seen amongst the heavily-pushed “instant” stuff because social network will push the reach of those things much farther than regular page content.

    It raises questions about video, as you’ve already said, but also about written content. Will Facebook invade the space that Medium occupies with medium/long-form text content with it’s revamped “notes”?

    And, looking more broadly than just the NFP sector, where will all the ad revenue go? With articles appearing “bare” inside social networks and search results, how will the people creating that content get paid?

    I’d also flag up podcasts…I’m sure there’s some confirmation bias going on here, but they seem to be on the rise (again) as a medium. Will charities be able to start making audio content that works? Perhaps in partnership with larger media organisations? What if there was a “Serial” based on the work of a charity or NGO or campaigning organisation, for example.

    And there, perhaps lies another theme…with media startups having greater and greater influence on some demographics, will there be potential tie-ins for charities with these organisations, and if so….who will win the race to be first at such a partnership?

  2. Good points raised Luke. Below are a few thoughts of my own.

    1) IMHO ad blocking is inevitable, however it simply comes down to the consumer value exchange. I believe it will cap out at some point until this is rebalanced. Publishers heavily rely on ads (display, increasingly sponsored or promoted content, sponsorships) where there is no paywall. Punishing consumers (limiting access or content) for having an adblocker is not the right way to go.

    Not only that, the continued rise of mobile forces publishers to find additional ways of monetisation, yet the UX method to do so is poor (crappy ad formats, lack of targeting and personalisation due to cross platform challenges).

    I predict an increase from an advertisers POV in the usage and leverage of CRM. Consider what the social giants of Facebook and Twitter have done, Custom Audiences, Tailored Audiences, and Google’s network play of Customer Match. Conpanies such as Sociomantic are layering in CRM data for realtime, relevant and personalised display.

    2) Private messages on social for personal use will continue to increase. Use it regularly myself on Twitter (mainly as an easier comms channel), occasionally with Whatsapp and Messenger (event driven) and rarely with Instagram and Snapchat (in the moment driven). People will gravitate to the channels they spend most time in and where their friend network heavily exist or those that provide some inspiration or value (possibly DJ Khaled on Snapchat as an example).

    A social message more often than not will include a notification and a sense of ‘oooooh, someone’s contacted me’ and a number or icon on/in the app. Email is constantly given notifications when you access it, but it’s a noisy playground and responses are often delayed due to the requirement of a longer format response (not 140 characters).

    With wifi connectivity points more accessible out of home and mobile data becoming cheaper in the main, private messaging in-app and solus apps will continue. They may only exist however if they find a sustainable revenue model, or are acquired by a beast of a parent business that value the personal data, size of customer base and have an alternative revenue model within the group. Think Facebook.

    For business purposes however, I think a number of considerations are important around auditing, storage of messages, trackability, accountability, legals, integrations (eg into CRM software).

    Disappearing test based messages I foresee could open huge problems. Comms in a channel that is private (particularly on social) is most likely outside the realms of normal business comms channels such as email. What was said, promised, discussed around a transactional contract or terms of busienss etc would make legal counsel nervous I’m sure.

    However, many of us are already using private messages as a away of connecting and communicating for business reasons. Take LinkedIn for instance, and most likely when it’s more widely adopted, Facebook for Work.

    BTW, does FaceTime with a business contact count?

    3) This war will be won through the powers of smarter technology. If YouTube can tell me that a video is private and cannot be viewed, or that a video cannot be viewed on a mobile device, then go figure.

    Surely Facebook, Google, Vimeo, etc should create an alliance and invest heavily to protect content creators’ content. Facebook and Google themselves own ad serving technologies and so could clamp down of same-content lifting and monetisation if featured on another channel and content owner does not give consent.

    I actually saw yesterday a video someone posted on social that had been re-distributed by another content publisher and the content owner was made aware by a friend on Facebook. He might be annoyed if that video goes viral and someone else is profiting from it with ads. It was the drunk person blowing into a bouncer’s radio thinking it was a breathalyser.

    Guess more clarity and awareness is needed to content owners on who actually ‘owns’ the content.

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