Apologies in advance if you now have the 1981 Olivia Newton-John classic stuck in your head for the rest of the day. If you live on the East Coast you have no doubt been getting “very physical” the past few days if you catch my snowdrift. After all, it’s hard work moving bottomless mounds of snow from one heap to another. What did you think I referring to? C’mon now, let’s keep it kosher.

Digital marketing became increasingly essential to consumer marketers in 2015, but there is strong evidence that digital is being elevated from just another item in the CMO toolbox to a pervasive ingredient to all marketing activities.

Exhibit A is findings from the Gartner 2015-2016 Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Spend Survey, that focused on business leaders responsible for marketing – digital marketing in particular – across 339 large and extra-large (whatever that means) companies in North America and the U.K. A whopping 98% of CMOs consider digital marketing mainstream and that online and offline marketing are merging.

Commenting on the results, Yvonne Genovese, group vice president at Gartner, notes: “Marketers no longer make a clear distinction between offline and online marketing disciplines. As customers opt for digitally led experiences, digital marketing stops being a discrete discipline and instead becomes the context for all marketing. Digital marketing is now marketing in a digital world.” 

In our marketing projects with leading consumer, business and public sector organizations, we are seeing significant demand for the “digitally led experiences” that Gartner references. There are a few digital marketing trends in particular that consumer marketers should keep their eyes on in 2016:

Smartphone ad geo-fencing

Consumer marketers recognize the need to map digital marketing into the consumer buyer’s journey when these digital assets can have the biggest impact. At what moment and location will the consumer be most inclined to play a video, read a text message or view an in-app ad? Smartphone ad geo-fencing enables marketers to reach an audience when they are most receptive to your brand, product, or service marketing.

Think about a consumer’s mindshare when entering an airport. In the traveler waiting for a flight, you have a captive audience thinking about various aspects of their business or leisure travel. Do they need accommodations, transportation, dinner reservations, or other concierge-type services? Smartphone ad geo-fencing can feed location-based ads to travelers once they enter an airport at a time when they are primed to take action.

Virtual Reality

Yeah, yeah, you’ve been hearing about virtual reality headsets for years. But VR is primed for mainstream in 2016. Oculus Rift has set an April release, in addition to other planned releases for HTC Vive and Playstation VR, are poised to put VR in the hands of consumers for hundreds – not thousands – of dollars. But the fact is that consumers don’t need to even shell out this kind of cash to experience virtual reality.

My colleague Michael Quint recently blogged about how Bluetext is leveraging Google Cardboard to bring virtual reality to the masses. Today, we are designing a digital briefing center for a client in virtual reality by marrying, in Michael’s words, “our creativity, advanced video capabilities, and cutting-edge app development to help a software company more effectively tell its story.” In this case it’s a b2b company, but we fully expect b2c virtual reality projects to become increasingly commonplace as the year progresses.


Consumer marketers are not alone in trying to get their hands around the Internet of Things, and how to leverage IoT for digital marketing efforts. In my end-of-year blog post, I looked at the IoT opportunity for digital marketers in 2016, and what it comes down to is that marketers will be able to capture a growing volume of data on consumer behavior and consumption patterns from connected devices and sensors, and then engage with consumers more effectively based on this data.

Marketing Automation

In a Forrester report, “2015: The Year of the Big Digital Shift,” more than half of marketers admitted their digital marketing is more tactical than strategic. Digital marketers are a victim of their own excess: Forrester reported that investments in marketing technology grew 3.4 percent in 2014 and is projected to rise another 4 percent this year. So consumer marketers will not lack for tools and options, but 2016 is the year when CMOs and their teams must invest time to identify the optimal set of tools to catapult their initiatives. They also most move beyond an understanding of the ‘basic’ capabilities of marketing automation tools, and shift from students to experts fully versed in the in’s and out’s of marketing automation.


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