Ferris Bueller once said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Okay – no-one should take advice from a 1980’s film character, but I think you should always take a look back before stepping forward. With this in mind let’s take a look at four digital trends that emerged in 2016 and how they will affect how we work in 2017.

Social Media PPC spend went through the roof

If 2016 showed us anything it’s the power of social media – news travels faster on social than any other media and advertisers used this to their advantage. Social media advertising budgets doubled in the years from 2014 – 2016 and analysts predict that 2017 will increase by another 26% globally1. The benefits of advanced targeting and typically lower cost per click mean that many are considering social as an additional or alternative to traditional PPC Search and Display platforms in 2017.

Google gave us a polite nudge about its mobile first approach

Google gave us another little nod about its intention of a mobile first approach for the web back in November when it announced that it would be trialling mobile first indexing to rank pages.

Currently, Google looks at the desktop version of a site to score it for ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). The thing is that majority of Google searches now take place on a mobile device so it kind of makes sense to use the mobile optimised or mobile versions of pages to rank the site.

The downside of this approach is that some mobile versions of sites are a watered down experience compared to their desktop counterpart, featuring less search optimised content.

This will be problematic should Google roll out the change as those sites will lose rankings for both mobile and desktop search.

Google puts user experience as the catalyst for major updates and expects the rest of us to fall in line. My advice is to make sure the mobile version of your site offers the same great experience as your desktop pages do.

Video Killed the Vine Star

Remember Vine? It’s the six-second looping video hosting service Twitter bought in 2012 before it had even launched. Initially a huge success, by December 2015 Vine had 200 million active users4 spawning a whole generation of teen vine stars.  By October 2016 however, Vine announced that Twitter would be discontinuing the app.

The demise of Vine has been attributed to a number of factors:

  • Duplication of functionality, Twitter added better video support and live streaming by integrating Periscope to its native app which meant that Vine had been superseded by its big brother
  • Increased competition from Facebook, Instagram and the newer Snapchat all offering video removed the requirement of the app for many users
  • A lack of opportunities for brands to access to the user base and monetisation opportunities for the new generation of social media stars meant that both looked to other platforms in order to fulfil their needs

When the app launched in 2013, video on mobile was a different ball-game. 4G was in its infancy which meant that video streaming was pretty unfeasible on the go.  Vine filled the gap with short-form video. The unwillingness to adapt the app has demonstrated that even the biggest platforms must adapt or die in the digital age.

2017 will be the year for live video as platforms and brands push the technology in new and creative ways.

 Voice Search became important

2016 was the year that the digital assistant really took off. Siri, S-Voice, and Cortana have been a feature on smart phones for around 5 years but adoption was initially slow (in 2014 the total percentage of voice search was less than 1%2).  Smart watches and home listening devices such as the Amazon Echo and the soon to be launched Google Home are changing usage habits by combining apps, search and the internet of things, making the assistant much more useful. Google has revealed that 20%3 of searches are now voice.

This will change the way we write content for the web. Voice search means we are going to have to think like humans again to influence rankings. We’ll need to combine question phrases such as “Who, what, where and why” etc to our keywords to match the questions voice searchers will be asking.

I hope you enjoyed this piece, In my next post I’ll be talking about how we rebranded HMA from a marketers perspective.

Happy New Year!


  1. https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-advertising-stats/
  2. http://www.lsainsider.com/lsa16-impact-of-virtual-assistants-a-i-on-search#sthash.VCUI18se.29Il2shH.dpbs
  3. http://searchengineland.com/google-reveals-20-percent-queries-voice-queries-249917
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vine_(service)