Now that 2016 is well under way, Rahul Vasudev, managing director of APAC at MediaMath, looks into the crystal ball to see what the rest of the year may hold.
In 2015, the world became even more connected than ever before. We saw a significant rise in mobile and cross-device consumer engagement and an industry-wide shift towards digital roles for marketers.
We also saw brands increasingly build their marketing strategies around digital inbound marketing tactics such as search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM), a boost in social media engagement and content marketing.
Through all this, one thing was constant – data-driven marketing, which stood at the heart of strategy-making.
In Asia Pacific itself, digital ad spend accounted for 29 per cent of total regional ad sales, a figure that is projected to rise again this year . In 2016, as the world connects further, marketers will need to put a greater focus on analysing audience engagement across multiple platforms and devices.
With these efforts, one thing remains clear – there is an increasing need to serve relevant content to the right audience, at the right time. Ignoring how connected the consumers have become is no longer an option.
As marketing continues to advance into the digital age, we look at how marketers can leverage new technologies this year to win over even more consumers.
Data – the growing currency
Data is all around us. Both online and offline data can be used by marketers to streamline and optimise outreach, allowing the marketer to identify a specific set of audiences to target.
According to research by Forbes Insights, almost 75 per cent of marketing executives polled are still focused on knowledge gathering from their data and are unsure of how to use data-driven marketing .
The emergence of data management platforms (DMPs) in the programmatic space can help marketers better activate their data. DMPs have increased the ease of access to data for marketers and allow the ability to collect data from multiple sources for different types of campaigns. As data becomes increasingly available, marketers will find greater value in enhancing digital outreach, and we will see a more profound shift towards data-driven marketing during the rest of 2016.
Having a marketing tech stack is crucial, and this is something even more marketers will work towards this year. From data gathering, analysis and insights, to programmatic advertising and planning, using data to drive marketing efforts will lead to more personalised content for target audiences.
Counting the benefits
Issues marketers previously faced with programmatic will become less of a barrier to entry into the programmatic realm.
So far in 2016, we have seen a shift towards marketers using programmatic advertising in their digital efforts, as the benefits of this solution are further realised. Programmatic advertising enables automated real-time digital ad bidding, allowing marketers greater cost and time savings, ad optimisation and insights into their ad spend.
One area where we anticipate marketers to get smarter is goal optimisation. For example, an impression does not necessarily equate to user engagement. It raises awareness but does not track a user’s action from there on out, leaving gaps in reporting, and does not ensure a return on investment.
Ads can be optimised against more realistic outcomes like product purchases or downloads, time spent on site, or even landing page views. Marketers will slowly become more attuned to tracking better metrics, and see improved ROIs as a result.
The past year, we saw a rise in brands and marketers using social media for outreach. These platforms progressively look to provide greater advertising avenues, and it is important for marketers to fully understand their capabilities.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have opened up their ad APIs, and brands are leveraging these platforms with highly creative sales tactics. Other social apps like Snapchat will increasingly come into the fray.
This year, we will see greater cross-application marketing as marketers tap into diverse user groups, bringing targeted creatives and content to specific audiences.
Having a pool of data from these social channels will allow marketers to target their audiences based on a number of details including behaviour and demography, much better than ever before. Marketers can look to target their desired audience across multiple applications, serving diverse creatives based on the user’s preferred social media platforms, all within seconds.
Unlocking the full potential of mobile
Imagine this – a user who has been browsing men’s shoes on his desktop and entering sports shoe stores, would be a prime target for a sports brand to serve a relevant ad when the user nears the store’s radius.
When the user is attracted by the ad and enters the store, a promotional offer is then pushed right to the mobile device. Hyperlocal targeting is the ability to target small areas, like the radius from a store location, allowing marketers and advertisers to provide relevant and contextually-aware content to potential customers.
One of the biggest trends in recent times is the shift towards the adoption of mobile phones in APAC, with a projected 62.5 per cent of people owning a mobile or smart phone . While mobile provides an opportunity to have a more personal reach to an individual, using this as an independent channel greatly reduces the impact of your information.
In 2016, we will see the true value in mobile, as marketers look towards connecting multiple devices in their marketing efforts and layering this outreach in real-world context, to better engage with their audiences.
There will be a rise in marketers further leveraging on mobile technologies in 2016, allowing the benefits of highly accurate, fresh and relevant data coupled with cross-device collaboration, which optimises delivery based not only on the device used, but also by the context it is being used for.
Looking into our crystal ball
The year ahead is increasingly looking to be one where marketers in APAC integrate new technologies into their marketing efforts, optimising budgets, reducing costs and improving reporting.
As data steadily becomes the means for marketers to easily reach their audiences, we will see a fundamental shift in consumer brand interaction towards a more personal, and constructive relationship. One that is powered by the ability to manage audience data, and target the right audiences at the right time, to serve the right marketing tactic.
 Magna global forecasts global advertising revenues to grow by +4.6% to $526 billion in 2016, Magna Global, December 2015
 Data Driven and Customer Centric: Marketers Turning Insights Into Impact, Forbes Insights, November 2015
 Asia-Pacific Boasts More Than 1 Billion Smartphone Users, E-Marketer, September 2015