2016What lies ahead for the marketing industry? As I travel and talk with business leaders around the globe, I’ve been taking note of the common threads emerging. Here are the trends I’ll be keeping my eyes on in 2016:

  1. Less intrusive, individualized marketing campaigns.

    Traditional broad-blanket, “spray and pray” campaigns are less and less effective – and more and more likely to be perceived as a nuisance. By contrast, relevant, timely interactions are increasingly welcome and effective. Why? Because they add value. Watch for data driven marketing to continue to gain momentum as marketing organizations realize the measurable benefits from integrating anonymous and known customer touchpoints. When you better understand each individual customer and can connect the execution of interactions, you’ll be able to engage at the right time across paid, earned and owned channels.

  2. Drones.

    Drones give us a unique perspective on the world, offer unprecedented access to places that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to go and, if Amazon had its way, would soon be dropping off packages at your doorstep. Recently, Walmart revealed an eagerness to join the party, asking the FAA for permission so it could start testing drones for customer deliveries. Alphabet and Facebook are also enthusiastic – but not necessarily for reasons related to distribution. Facebook wants to use its drones to provide internet access to remote areas of the globe. Alphabet reportedly wants to do that, too, while also harvesting data related to problems like deforestation. Clearly, the pump is primed, and in 2016, it’s likely we’ll see a flood of news about drones. Just keep in mind, as Amazon so eloquently puts it, deployment requires “the regulatory support needed to realize our vision.”

  3. Self-driving cars.

    There’s also plenty of momentum behind driver-less cars. Google is testing autonomous cars in California and Texas, while Tesla, Mercedes Benz and other car manufacturers are rolling out autopilot features. Even General Motors has entered what Bloomberg describes as the “multibillion-dollar race for the future of human mobility.” Many predict driverless cars are going to be mainstream within the next five years, and that means exciting marketing opportunities will be opening up. Will driver-less cars alert passengers to approaching attractions, cafes, etc.? Will the car be able to place orders so your coffee is ready for you when you arrive? The combination of car computers, hi-tech location technology and riders “captive” in a small, intimate space creates countless possibilities for integrated digital marketing.

  4. A pendulum swing back to offline communities.

    More and more, it seems we’re too connected to our phones, tablets and other gadgets. An LA restaurant now offers diners a discount if they leave their phones at the door. Scheduled, periodic digital detoxes are becoming more and more popular. There are even summer camps for adults where you can trade in your computer, cell phone and etc. for “four days of pure, unadulterated off-the-grid camp fun.” Along those same lines, I’m also intrigued by innovative approaches like Commonspace, a “new way of living” that focuses on our social natures by balancing private living space, common areas and shared services. And I’m sure wearable technology will continue to make headlines as we strive to better blend our offline and online experiences.

What do you see when you peer into your crystal ball? What marketing trends will you be watching in the New Year?