2015 Trends and Insights from Centerliners
Jan 15, 2016
With a new year comes a time to collectively reflect on the events of the previous twelve months; to learn from them and take your experiences into consideration for the future. It is also a time to make goals and predictions on how something may change or evolve over the coming days, weeks and months. We polled the super smart people in our building to understand what happened in the world to change and evolve our work in 2015 and what we anticipate will be the biggest things to impact us in 2016.
First up, looking back on 2015 trends. Stay tuned next week for our thoughts on what’s to come in 2016!
What events or trends made the biggest impact in your field of expertise in 2015?
All Things Content Marketing – Real-time, Branding, Stacks and APIs
“Real-time communications (and marketing) is finally becoming… real. Meerkat, Periscope, Blab.io and even the meteoric rise of Snapchat (after all this time) are all examples of how communications have once again been revolutionized. That’s something that can pretty much be said every year, and still be true.
The decline of the brand mark has been a surprising shift. Good content marketing practices connote you should be more focused on providing value than pursuing ‘traditional’ brand recognition. And the decline of brands that always put the icon of their offerings first – like Abercrombie & Fitch or YSL — is further indication that buyers (and perhaps millennial-minded folks) are taking that to the greatest extreme. That a strong brand identity—rather than value recognition—can actually be detrimental.
This year we saw the continued rise and beginning implementation of the content marketing stack. Until this year, content marketing agencies and marketing technology companies seemed to be competing for the same ground… mostly because neither of the two were fully understood. Even smart marketers were confused as to whether they should buy HubSpot or engage with an agency to help them make more/better content. But over the course of the year, things have become more clear. Marketers are realizing creation and the tech to amplify it are complementary, not competing. And they’ve started to create their own mixes of ‘marketing technology stacks’ to better manage content creation, use and efficacy.
APIs have been becoming more and more important over the past few years, but 2015 felt like a true “arrival” with the amount of companies touting their API programs. Specifically with the rising awareness of data and how it can be applied to improve nearly anything. But even more than the idea of data-driven marketing, the rapid proliferation of APIs have been the backbone of making that data-driven idea a reality. Along with the API is the rising importance of the architects of connected systems: The Marketing Technologist.*” – John Lane, Chief Strategy Officer
*Editor’s note: That’s funny…we have one of those.
Data Collection & Security
“The invalidation of Safe Harbor (U.S. / E.U. data protection law) by the European Union and the subsequent passing of strict(er) consumer-oriented privacy laws will have far reaching consequences for marketing automation. This builds on existing anti email-spam laws and makes it even harder to collect customer data from European residents, going so far as to make it impossible to transfer that user data onto American servers after it is collected. The fines proposed under the new EU data protection laws are absolutely massive (up to 4% of global sales), and will probably drive compliance in American companies/audiences as well. Also, we can’t understate the impact of creating the precedent for blanket liability – e.g. holding the service provider AND the controlling client liable for breaches. That could push some European and global companies away from agencies and third-party providers, since they might as well move those services in house to ensure compliance if they’re going to eat the liability either way. Further reading on this topic can be found on Politico and the New York Times.” – Rob Gurley, Marketing Technologist
New Business Models and Team Approaches
“In 2015, the emergence of new businesses models – like that of Uber – forced people to rethink their approach and interaction with their customer. Previously it was companies like Zappos, Amazon, Google and Apple that were dominantly used as examples in these conversations and now, Uber’s innovation is what everyone is trying to emulate. The idea of questioning how and why businesses (and industries) do the things they do seems to be pretty pervasive. The challenge still remains for those same entities to recognize that the customer lies at the center of those innovations. Actually putting the customer’s best interests over those of the business has been the common stumbling block for those same brands to actually take action.” – JT Moore, Senior Digital Strategist
“The rise – based on necessity – of marketing and communication managers learning to partner and work with their IT departments to effectively implement marketing campaigns, digital needs and marketing workflow. Mark Barrenechea, CEO of OpenText has been quoted as saying, ‘Just like an IQ and EQ, we also need to develop a DQ – a digital quotient where strategy, culture, people and capabilities converge.’ A gap will remain in businesses seeking to make digital a mindset until core foundations of digital marketing programs answer the call to evolve and expand its definition of marketing and see technology being a cornerstone of that evolution. To do that, executives must understand how system architectures, internal processes and culture can influence these programs as well as their full customer journey and digital ROI. The need for businesses to recognize and view IT and marketing as a shared-service model is fast becoming a strategy that will ultimately differentiate companies as businesses learn how to truly serve their clients or users. Business needs should inform IT requirements – not the other way around.” – Lenae Boykin, Account Engagement Manager
A Carpenter is Only as Good as his Tools
“I’ve heard over and over from designers that Slack, Invision & Sketch are their go to tools. There’s a shift from designers working in silos to produce fully “pixel perfect” comps to hand over to developers, to the designers and developers working together from the start to build components adding up to the complete experience. This is usually referred to as Atomic Design.” – Jen Hubbard, Interactive Designer
“GPU based rendering is overtaking CPU based rendering as the new norm. 3D Artists can now make changes in near real time, and CREATE faster than ever before.” – Jesse Stormer, Motion Graphics Designer
“Virtual reality saw several key events in 2015. The NYTimes embraced the super-cheap entry point of Google Cardboard; the Times sent free Cardboard kits to their subscribers, and began creating compelling VR stories that anyone could experience. Other media channels and brands have been jumping into pool as well. We also saw increased production of specialized cameras and software toolkits that make this type of content creation and consumption possible. As this type of experience becomes more widely put into practice*, the cost of entry will continue to go down and powerful seamless experiences will be the true differentiators.” – Adam Good, Associate Creative Director
*Editor’s note: Adam may have more to say on this in our 2016 predictions…we’re just sayin’.
What other questions do you have for the awesomely smart people here at Centerline? What do you want to hear more about? Tweet us @Centerline.
A lifelong northerner, I began my career in agency public relations in Rochester, New York, later moving to New York City, working with a variety of technology and consumer brands from Xerox and IBM to Blackberry and KAYAK. I loved the fast-paced and entrepreneurial environment and learned so much about myself, client and people management, media relations and how to properly mail merge.
Now a relocated northerner and wannabe southerner, I still love the pace, people and spirit of agency life in Raleigh. As Centerline’s Communications Manager, I get to help amplify the amazing content that we produce as an agency and thought leaders through events, media placement, relationships with influencers and social media.