I bought my father a Virtual Reality headset for Christmas. Foolishly, I forgot to remove the price tag. “He would have though they cost about €300 if you hadn’t left the €39 price tag on”, my brother laughed. I won’t make that mistake again. The headset caused so many rows between the nieces and nephews on Christmas Day that I regretted the purchase. I won’t make that mistake next year either.
In fairness, the quality of the picture and the degree of realism is very impressive and while the range of scenarios is relatively limited at the moment, it’s difficult not to see an explosive growth in this area in the next 12 months. Games, travel, education, training and adult content spring to mind as hot sectors. Keep an eye out for a company named Oculus who appear to the pioneers in this field. No prizes for guessing where they’re located. I really like their blog. Interestingly, the company raised $2.5m to develop their core product through a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
So, what other trends can we expect to see evolve in 2016 in the area of digital marketing?
Let’s start with the obvious. For the first time, mobile became the preferred means of internet access for consumers in 2015. Companies formulating a digital marketing strategy would be well advised to keep this in mind as the trend is only going one way. In time, desktop versions of a website may no longer be necessary but I suspect we’re some way from that yet. Personally, I find the viewing experience on mobile unsatisfactory and still prefer accessing the internet on a desktop, particularly for a lengthy read.
Related to the increased access through mobile is growth in video as a form of communication. This has been greatly facilitated by the improvements in speed and also the quality of the picture. YouTube now has over 1 billion users and 4 billion videos are viewed every day. Facebook and Twitter are auto-playing videos in news-feeds and brands/publishers are allocating a lot more of their resources to video production and distribution.
And what about the social media channels? Twitter had a shocking 2015. Its share price peaked at $52 in April 2015 but has collapsed by 70% to $17 since then, all because the company has been unable to execute a proper revenue generating strategy. (Interesting aside: Twitter floated in November 2014 at a price of $26 but the share price rocketed to close it’s first day of trading at $46.) Rumours recently that the company is planning to increase the maximum character count from 140 to 10,000 (is that not just a blog?) have not been met with any kind of enthusiasm by the market. Monetising a user database is a challenge for all virtual companies and WhatsApp now finds itself in a similar position to Twitter. WhatsApp has 995 million registered users and is now trying to figure out how to turn a profit. How quickly do you think that user base will vanish at the first sign of an intrusive ad?!
While Twitter licks its wounds Facebook can take a bow. It’s share price increased 30% during 2015 and recently announced that more than 1 billion unique users had logged onto the site in one day for the first time in it’s history. The advancements Facebook has made with its news-feed highlight a trend that is going to continue, namely that ‘Social’ is now ‘much more than just Social’. Anyone not using the site as a personalised newspaper is missing out. From a business perspective, a site that allows you target the specific Followers of your rivals with your own ads that only cost pennies to display has a rosy future, although a company that relies on advertising for 95% of its revenue should have a concern about the growth in ad-blocking technology. (Globally, users of ad-blocking technology grew by 41% in 2015, according to Adobe.)
And a bold prediction for 2016 – Facebook to acquire WhatsApp?