2016: Were Our Predictions Right?

Issue 18

It may feel like we've only just rang in the New Year but 2016 is almost over. With 2017 on the horizon, Mediaworks' Managing Director, Brett Jacobson recaps on the year's digital developments.

Cast your mind back to December 2015 and you may remember us making predictions for the year ahead. We dubbed 2016 the year of digital dominance – but just how accurate were we? We compare our forecasts with reality, as we turn our attention to the future.

Our prediction: “Recognising the growing audience of smartphone and tablet users, Google will continue to tailor its services to meet the needs of mobile users.”

Google had already made it clear that they’d be focusing more heavily on mobile in 2016, as proven by the launch of their mobile algorithm in 2015. Since then, the focus on mobile has snowballed.

In May, Google released an update for the mobile-friendly algorithm, increasing the effect of the ranking signal for mobile-optimised sites to ensure users can find the most relevant and useful information for their queries.

More recently, Google announced plans to launch a separate mobile index in the coming months. Replacing the search engine’s current single index, the mobile version will act as the primary index and will be used alongside a secondary desktop index, which won’t be updated as frequently. While the impact of this change remains to be seen, the shift clearly indicates where Google’s priorities lie: with mobile.

Paid search has also been heavily influenced by mobile, with Google AdWords offering additional features to improve the visibility of mobile ads. Google’s removal of the right-hand sidebar made way for expanded text ads, allowing more characters to promote products and services. The ads are optimised for the most popular smartphone screens and, with over half of searches taking place on smartphones, this additional space can be vital.

In addition, AdWords now allows for individual bid adjustments based on device types. If the majority of your target customers are on mobile, you can now increase your bid to capture a greater audience share.

Our prediction: “Social offers some of the biggest possibilities in terms of paid search this year.”

Back in 2015, we predicted the continued growth of social media as an advertising platform. This has certainly been realised as the year has gone by, with advertising spends rising on the most popular platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

New opportunities have also emerged through updates to platforms like LinkedIn, for example. The business-orientated site has gone from strength-to-strength, with 80% of all B2B leads generated on social media coming from LinkedIn. As this year has highlighted, social media is a fundamental aspect of any digital strategy, helping you to both promote products and engage directly with your target audience.

If one thing’s certain, digital is set to grow again in 2017. To stay ahead of digital trends and gain a competitive advantage in the New Year, call Mediaworks on 0191 404 0100.

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