2016 was a year for transformation both view a to the future past. Amazon Echo sales surged to the 5-10M range with the phrase “Hey Alexa …” becoming mainstream in pop culture and Artificial Intelligence increasingly playing a practical and visible role in people’s daily lives. At the same time both the New York Times (10 times year over growth) and Wall Street Journal (300% spike) saw massive growth in subscriptions in November, potentially as a response to the election just past.

December is also invariably both a time for reflection of the year gone by, as well as thoughts to what could lay ahead and potential plans to make those ideas a reality.If you are involved in the advertising industry or in sales, sometimes the hope for some downtime during the festive period can often give way to the pressing need to make your quota or run critical 4th quarter campaigns.

It is with all this in mind that we will try and distill 2016 into the three key digital advertising trends that have made an impact across the industry. Then we will look forward to three predictions for advertising that should have a profound impact to all digital marketers in the coming year.

2016

1. Google & Facebook combined for more than 100% of the digital advertising growth in US in first half of 2016 (in other words the rest of industry combined declined) – IAB. Whether you view this positively or negatively is far less important than what does this mean for your strategy to drive your business goals

2. India, Indonesia, Mexico and China are the four fast growing markets for new members of the population coming online ranging from 3x to 8x faster than the US and many are mobile-only – eMarketer The new markets for your products and services may be harder to reach with 2G internet connections and more complex logistics but if you ignore them you are ignoring a potential customer base of a billion people about to take their first major digital baby steps.

3. $1B+ was spent on digital advertising in the US presidential election 2016 with much of it driven from customer data through things like Facebook Custom Audiences. Regardless of your feelings about the election result, it is clear that identity driven messaging played a role in reinforcing messaging and persuading voters and that knowledge of your customers is crucial to providing the optimal experience to achieve your goals

So what about the year ahead ….

1. Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger both crossed 1B users in 2016 and WeChat headed towards 800B users – Facebook/Tencent. Group Messaging alone commands more engagement than most major media companies and with greater functionality like e-commerce, banking and customer service with tailored ad promotions, look forward to innovative brands trialling new ways to engage customers in 2017

2. Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) account for double the amount of search traffic as newly published content – Conde Nast. In 2016, Google passed the 50% threshold where more search queries were conducted on a mobile device. Now with a view towards a better user experience, their AMP product has changed the way content is discovered and monetized and this will only move further to a mobile first approach in 2017

3. BMW UK 56% lower cost per lead and 2.8x increase in volume will be a similar story for lots of brands wanting to improve their marketing to sales funnel – Facebook Insights. With only 13% of brands saying lead generation is working successfully, it will the forward thinking brands using new ad formats focused on customer acquisition like Facebook Lead Ads connected directly to the CRM and sales teams that will win the day and close new business at scale