Well I’ll Be A Monkey’s Uncle: A 2016 Digital Outlook

The Chinese zodiac declares 2016 as the year of the monkey. The monkey, in fact, is an appropriate symbol for smart public affairs professionals focused on digital as they head into the New Year. This sign is portrayed as smart, intelligent, quick-witted and most importantly flexible.  With 2016 already in full swing (pun intended) there is no room for monkey business when it comes to the understanding the digital landscape and consumption habits of consumers, political staffers and policymakers in the United States.  Adaptation and flexibility are key to surviving in wild world of digital. Beyond monkeys, we can be certain that Millennials and mobile devices will also play a large role in the digital marketing game this year. Here’s why…

Gone are the days of “monkey see, monkey do.” The media consumption habits of Gen Z and Millennials, who now account for 45% of the total U.S. population, are tremendously different from generations of the past.  As these generations poise to take over the majority we have seen shifts that advertisers must be mindful of when seeking to connect with this audience. Furthermore, as we enter this election year we must be aware that it’s most likely Gen Z and Millennial staff members behind policymaker’s handles, Facebook pages and other managed digital channels.  They are the gatekeepers of what information gets from corporate brands and organizations to decision-makers on policy issues that will be debated this year.  Understanding how to connect with them will make the difference in 2016.

Mobile has become more than a channel in which to connect, it has become a way of living. U.S. smartphone penetration has risen to a staggering 75% with an annual increase of 394%.  This growth is largely driven by Millennials, however, according to ComScore the 55+ age segment is the fastest growing adopter of multi-platform and mobile-only usage rising from 60% to 75% just this year.  Though, this is great news for public affairs teams who are willing to adjust their strategies. Think about it, mobile devices are where people are the most connected – it is the only interaction that you can have with a voter where there are no distractions. Mobile creates the opportunity to engage 1:1 with your target audience.

Whether you are looking to drive awareness, build support, impact change on policy decisions or inform legislators, mobile should be part of your integrated digital effort in 2016. So as you swing from branch to branch, month to month and quarter to quarter here’s some trends to watch, to adapt and to monkey around with:

  • SMS Messaging—Messaging is at the heart of every mobile engagement. 90% of mobile users engage in text messaging on a daily basis. Even more impressive text messages have a 98% open rate. Mobile messaging presents an optimal path to get your message in front of your target audience.
  • Native Advertising on Mobile­­­­­­­—Today’s consumers are adopting a more “search and “scroll approach” to the way they are interacting with content on their devices. The more you can integrate our content seamlessly to fit this profile the more likely for that 1:1 engagement. Mobile native ads draw double the click-thru-rate of standard display ads.
  • Personalized Ad Experiences—Experiences and messages that are unique to specific devices, user profiles and or usage data will emerge as a larger trend in 2016. Not much different from what we know already, people want to feel like brands and organizations are acting in their favor and catering to their needs. Personalized mobile campaigns that connect on an individual level with voters, policymakers and legislators will prevail.
  • Programmatic Paid Media Automation—The automation of buying and selling ads is growing rapidly because of the cost efficiency this concept allows. Traditionally, digital ads were purchased on an agreed upon number of impressions with a direct publisher. With programmatic you buy impressions against an audience and optimize towards the best performing publisher and ad size, generating stronger outcomes and higher conversions.
  • Vertical Video Ads—While not entirely new, vertical video ads are starting to trend, and early adopters noticing an 80% lift in ad completion rates. This makes sense given that the default for all mobile devices is currently set to vertical displays. A seamless user experience significantly increases the probability for engagement.
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