A couple years ago — and many beautiful slide decks later — we came to the realization that marketers liked charts. A lot. Every time a chart featured in an internal or external presentation, eyes and ears immediately perked up. So in 2014, we collected and published 50 of the trends that had been informing our ideas. For two years in a row, our 50 marketing charts has been one of our best performing whitepapers, proving our hypothesis. Obviously, this isn’t because people love big statistics when they’re anywhere but your personal Excel hell.

This is an indication of the shifting role of marketing in the organization: today, the marketing function is required to constantly have an eye on the future, test new things, and sell new ideas to management. As a profession, we have grown to envelop numerous issues that were previously considered “not marketing’s domain” or “just a sales issue.” With greater responsibility (and, dare we say it, greater power), the marketer’s role has evolved rapidly to take on new areas of expertise, becoming the creative engine for the entire organization. Our hope is that these insights stretch you to think and sell big ideas in 2016. And if anyone asks for data to back up your ideas? Tell them there’s a chart for it.

Below are just 11 of the trends that capture what’s to come: a year when marketers start thinking more seriously about not just creating content, but creating entire customer experiences, while battling some entirely unprecedented challenges like higher non-working costs and ad blocking.

1. CMOs plan to increase marketing spend by up to 8%

Every year, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business surveys CMOs to see what their biggest priorities and challenges are. The most significant budget increase is expected by B2B product and services marketers, with 8.1% and 7.5% increases respectively. We expect that some of this spend will go toward bringing creative agency work in-house, publishing to newer media formats, and innovations to battle ad blocking.



2. Ad production costs are rising too

Before we celebrate the bulging marketing wallet, hold on — advertising and content creation costs are rising, and according to 40% of the senior marketers , newer, more expensive media formats are what’s driving it, with briefing and planning processes a close second. In spite of the cost, we see it becoming increasingly crucial to integrate new media formats and channels like short-form and live video into the content marketing mix to reach the broadest possible audience. To balance expense with cost, we’ll see brands turning to more streamlined ways of doing work and letting automation aid them with the more manual, less intelligent stuff.

3. Social media isn’t the job of your millennial community manager anymore

It used to be that your social media intern experimented with Snapchat, but now it’s possibly the newest, most innovative part of your integrated content strategy. Social has had huge impact on widening the scope of media formats available to brands, and it deserves a seat at the adult table. Currently, 20% of social media activities are performed by outside agencies, but we can expect to see social move in-house as CMOs recognize that it’s time to keep social closer to the core marketing organization.

4. But short-form video isn’t quite there yet

Social may have matured as a category but short-form video—videos under 20 minutes, usually created on social media apps— hasn’t quite taken off yet. Deloitte predicted that revenues from short-form video streaming in 2015 would be $5 billion compared to north of $400 billion generated by advertising and subscription revenues from long-form content.

Part of this large difference is the metrics that both formats evaluate success on — for short-form, it is views or clicks, but for long-form it’s viewers, measured in a time commitment of anywhere from a month to several years. We’ve got the explosion of over-the-top (OTT) content from Netflix and HBO, powered by services like Roku and Amazon Fire and better video performance on mobile devices thanks to 4G and LTE streaming speeds, to thank for this.

How do these viewing patterns translate to mobile?

“[Mobile is] the operating system itself that’s the internet services platform, far more than the browser, and the platform is not neutral.” – Benedict Evans

5. Mobile, not computers, will soon be the first point of internet access

With people spending 65% of their time online on mobile, there’s no doubting that attention will be focused on creating and optimizing content for the smaller screen, where users can seamlessly switch between programs and tasks. What’s most interesting to watch is how mobile as an internet platform isn’t a simple building block like the web browser was: changes to the mobile experience are controlled by the operating system, which in Evan’s words are changing “how you talk to your friends, how you discover new services and how you decide to spend money.”

6. The second screen is a global phenomenon

Watching TV has become a connected experience — connected to your smartphone, that is. Viewers the world over browse the Internet on their phones while watching TV — whether that’s to look up obscure cultural references in the show, or order off of Seamless, we don’t quite know. But tweeting about the show as you watch it isn’t too far off, either. Brands like GE have already caught on to this, finding moments in TV programming to amplify on social media, and we expect to see brands kick off even more real-time conversations around culturally relevant moments in TV programming. The verdict is clear: two screens are better than one.


7. Building a mobile app? Look to Asia Pacific’s success stories

It’s the world’s largest mobile phone market, so it’s no surprise that Asia Pacific is outpacing other regions of the world in its purchase and usage of mobile apps. But more significantly, it’s a shift in the historical worldview that technological innovations originate in Western society. Rather than looking West, innovators in APAC have created hugely successful apps in messaging platforms WeChat, KIK, and LINE, creating models for Western tech companies looking to piggyback off of their success.


8. Ecommerce ventures will hedge their success on more personalized, one-to-one mobile experiences

No one is shifting from brick-and-mortar to entirely online stores just yet, but smartphones will become an even bigger part of the shopping experience for most. Gilt Groupe’s acquisition by Saks Fifth Avenue owner Hudson’s Bay signals the fading out of flash sales, and Amazon’s Prime Now and other same-day services point to the next level of innovation for online retailers: managing their supply chain to get customers their orders even faster. And to keep the customer journey seamless from online to offline, we’re seeing a digital revolution among heritage retail brands seeking to keep with the times.


Not so fast: there’s still ad blocking to consider.

9 . Your mobile data is being eaten up by ads, not content

The New York Times analyzed the page load times for 50 top news websites. The verdict: over half of all mobile data is spent on loading ads, not editorial content. These findings should serve as a red flag for both advertisers and publishers seeking to fight the ad blocking epidemic: if you want people to visit your site (and view your ads), give them a great mobile experience. Translated to marketing strategy, this might mean pivoting toward native content instead of interruptive ads.


10. The marketing skill set now includes product design and software

Combating ad blocking is more than just installing a paywall on your site: it’s about expanding your priorities to consider the user experience of your website across devices. Advertisers and publishers will work in tandem to make content less interruptive, and create a smoother user experience that puts the user at the center of the ecosystem.


11. But there’s a whole demographic that can’t afford to watch your ads

Your ads might be too expensive for your mobile customers to watch, especially in emerging markets, where it costs more to buy a data plan than many people make from a day’s work. Marketers will need to rethink their mobile strategy if they want to capture a global audience with their ads. Facebook is trying to plug this gap with its Free Basics internet program, offering free and limited internet access to a select list of sites (with mixed results), and mobile apps like Jana’s mCent have found a transactional way to woo potential customers with mobile data.


Want more charts? Check out the full collection here.