Mobile Advertising and App Marketing Trends 2016

Late last year, we presented an overview of what we predict will be some of the dominant mobile marketing trends for 2016. Now, we’ve asked the experts at AerServ, AppLift, AppsFlyer, BlisMedia, Marchex, PaperG, StartApp, Taptica, WireStone and YouAppi to find out what they think the top mobile advertising and app marketing trends are for the year ahead. In alphabetical order, here’s what they say:

Josh Stivers, Mobile Strategist, AerServ

josh stivers Aerserv

1. The availability of low cost Virtual Reality (VR) gear will drive the creation of VR mobile video content and apps, and will drive advertisers to experiment with VR mobile video advertising.

2. The Mobile Internet will become the dominate Internet, surpassing traditional PC-based access as the way consumers search and discover new products and information. This will be accelerated in 2016 by onboard device features like Apple’s Peek and Pop services which drive instant content discovery based on user screen interactions. Mobile in-app advertising will adapt by combining SEO intelligence into rich mobile creative formats.

3. Mobile advertising supply platforms (SSP) led by Facebook and others will continue to attract and consolidate more and more direct mobile ad spend, further squeezing the middle players (DSP’s, Exchanges, Ad Networks) from the marketplace. Publishers will benefit from this and see stabilization in CPM prices by mid 2016.

Tim Koschella, CEO & Co- Founder, AppLift

tim koschella applift logo

1. Telecom companies will continue to enter the mobile advertising game. Telcos have extremely valuable sets of deterministic data about their users and they are now realizing that they can leverage them for advertising purposes. After Millennial Media and AOL in 2015, we might well see more ad-tech acquisitions by telecoms in 2016.

2. Facebook prices should go up. After a few years focusing on performance players and app installs, Facebook is expanding their stack in order to offer services to brand advertisers as well. This is in turn likely to drive up prices, pushing performance advertisers to use programmatic channels and RTB platforms instead.

3. Even though users are still reluctant to go through with purchases on mobile, they often start the purchasing process by finding out about an item on their phones. For this reason, it is becoming increasingly important for retailers to attribute sales across devices, such as desktop and and mobile, but also between digital and in-store activities.
Ran Avrahamy, Head of Marketing, AppsFlyer

ran avrahamy AppsFlyer-logo

Marketing overall is fast becoming mobile-first. As the mobile landscape gets more saturated and costly, marketers will increasingly turn to television to reach audiences. Since a majority of smartphone owners are already watching TV with their mobile devices in-hand, app install ads on TV are a great fit and marketers will boost their spend on TV advertising. They will also utilize advanced tools to measure the impact and ROI of their TV ad campaigns.

Further, as the space continues evolving, more companies are adopting performance marketing models in which advertisers pay only for valuable user actions such as purchases or bookings. On their end, mobile marketers should focus on measuring activity that generates actual value. That means going from a cost per install (CPI) pricing model to a cost per action (CPA) model by measuring in-app engagement, retention, revenue, in-app purchases and of course [true] ROI using cost data, and multi-touch attribution. Then, they should focus, as much as possible, on connecting the dots to understand cross-device behavior.

Andrew Darling, Global Marketing Director, BlisMedia

andrew darling  blis media

Over the past 12 months, mobile advertising has exploded. For a long time, marketers thought location was when you were close to something and you could see if someone was near a shop. It’s was all about proximity, but really you’ve got to look at location in a historical context. It’s not about where people are, but where they’ve been and it’s about using those insights to predict where they’re likely to go in the future. This explosion has opened up new methods of contextual personalisation to marketers, with location becoming a hot topic.

A new era of personalisation is opening up as more and more data becomes available. Not just first-party location data, but also second-party data from public Wi-Fi providers that is providing demographic, as well as location information. Then there is the myriad of third-party data providers like Experian. All of which is creating a 360-degree picture of mobile users and their context

Location is going to become the cornerstone of successful campaigns. In the same way that search and social became a measure of online intent over the past couple of years, location is going to be the ultimate measure of offline intent.

Pete Christothoulou, CEO, Marchex:

peter christothoulou marchex

We will hear the term ‘mobile marketing strategy’ less and less and it will be replaced by customer-centric vernacular-Mobile first is passé. As mobile first is now a reality, consumers have a notion that all channels will not only provide the same experience, but that they will all work together to deliver the best possible experience. In 2016 we expect marketers to have a more holistic, customer-centric view for their campaigns, which will deliver the greatest ROI.

Brands will look for single-source providers. With advertising, marketing and sales technologies all thrown into the mix, companies are using multiple solutions to gather consumer information. In 2016, we expect to see the organizations move toward single source providers that are able to unite all of this information, giving them the ability to view the entire consumer journey in one place.

Victor Wong, CEO, PaperG

victor wong paper g

I think we’re going to see growth in programmatic mobile but not in real-time decisioning of media or creative. With the slower connection, mobile has huge bottlenecks in picking the right ad to serve and rendering the right ad at the same blazing speed as on desktop or WiFi. Consequently, the more that can be pre-loaded, whether it’s the creative variation for a particular audience or picking out which advertiser to serve via programmatic direct or some non real-time auction, we may start to see mobile-optimized programmatic strategies begin to take shape.

Ariel Shimoni, Director of Publisher Relations, StartApp

ariel shimoni startapp1

2015 saw the beginning of mobile video ads taking over as one of the most popular marketing tools available for advertisers. It became the gateway for many big name brands to start spending more on mobile (video is a natural/known medium for them, making it easier to buy on mobile) and apps and games marketers took advantage of video to easily distribute their titles through the insanely popular ‘rewarded-video’ ad unit in some of the most popular games last year (Crossy Road is a good example). Video will certainly keep that momentum as more and more brands follow the trend and start mobile video campaigns!

Programmatic buying in mobile, I predict, will also continue to dominate the scene in 2016, as more and more buyers are looking for automation and at the same time real-time bidding technology makes its way into top tier publishers in mobile. It makes sense and is a natural progression for mobile, to offer smarter and more cost-effective buying methods, similar to web.

Last I’d like to mention is social, where we see an already huge volumes and spend, I am confident this will just keep on growing as there is so much more on social mobile apps that have yet to been tapped into. There is a lot more that marketers can learn about users and there will be new ways to reach and interact with them in a far more personal and direct way.

Galia Reichenstein, COO & Head of Sales, Taptica

galia reichenstein Taptica - New

If 2015 was the actual ‘year of mobile’, then 2016 will be deemed the ‘year of cross channel data‘. As the industry became more comfortable and innovative with big data as well as social channels such as Facebook, mobile and video matured and innovated. As a result, in-depth targeting and reporting capabilities emerged that began blurring the lines between the different marketing channels. Mix in evolving tracking solutions and we’re going to have a record breaking year in terms of spend (smart spending). Companies that have unique data are headed into 2016 much smarter and more innovative, allowing marketers to have an easier time managing this growing channel base (including social, video, display, in app and connected TV). With users even more connected, marketers now have the ability to market according to that connectivity. Taptica, for example, is leveraging our DMP to give marketers an extra layer of data to better target and convert their users on other social channels.

And more specifically:

  • Ownership of mobile moments will continue to consolidate Facebook, Google, Apple keep building, buying and amassing the audience and data or information about consumers to dominate consumer attention on mobile devices.
  • E-commerce Going to see a huge surge. Classic brick-and-mortar retailers will invest heavily in mobile advertising, work on user engagement
  • Mobile payments Users will feel more comfortable and number of apps will grow, as a result, more data, more reliance on mobile, more mobile first companies
  • Multi screen Since the ad space is specialized (video, mobile re engagement, social, user acquisition, branding, display, search) advertisers have to work with different vendors to reach each goal. As advertisers are starting to unify their advertising budgets and looking at the overall spend they will start to experience this fragmentation much more. As a result advertisers will look for the partners that are able to work on multi screen solutions (for example how Taptica has social and nonsocial offering with data combining the two)
  • Reengagement / data driven This is going to be a must, not just a luxury or selling point anymore. As advertisers spent a lot of resources in getting new users and collecting data on their app they have a lot of raw material to work with. Couple that with users being at the front of brands decisions companies will need to work more on re engaging their existing users, improving user experience, using location based to reengage, using feature marketing, using content etc. close 5 for example is spending a lot of money in Q4 to scale their users and the data that they have on their users in order to improve the app in Q1 and refocus on quality and reengage the dormant users who downloaded the app,
  • Brands moving into performance Those that don’t will be left behind
  • Agencies will be challenged and advertisers will go more direct with unique solutions
  • Mobile inventory to be more policed viewability, transparency, regulations to come into play
  • Location / beacon / deep linking, more technology fueled marketing strategies – More and more, will need to get an insight into the budgets allocated to give an exact %.

Navid Madjidi, Director of Strategy, Wire Stone

Wire Stone - Navid Madjidi Headshot (2) wirestone-logo

In 2016, look for mobile advertising and mobile commerce to become better integrated into messaging apps, thus becoming more subtle and effective within that user experience. Relatedly, I predict those tiny banner ads you see polluting mobile experiences will start to fade away, as advertisers realize they’re both annoying and not converting in the way they want. They will be replaced, thankfully, by more innovative and palatable ways of bringing advertisements to life, such as mini-games, video clips and other more engaging types of media.

When it comes to music, podcasts, and other audio-focused apps, look for a rise in more creative auditory ads, ones able to smartly and enjoyably capture the listener’s attention (and not make them go diving for their mute button).

Javier Plana, Director Business Development, YouAppi

javier plana youappi

At YouAppi, the mobile advertising trends we’re expecting in 2016 include:

1. The Growth of App Retargeting: With so many apps downloaded, installed and then discarded, we expect app retargeting to be a major trend in the new year. And we believe that success in app retargeting will come when apps are being retargeted to users who have shown a propensity for that app based on an analysis of behavior and their app usage patterns because app marketing is more science – based on proven technology and methodology – than art.

2. Video, video, video: Video will be the major trend in mobile advertising, both as content to be supported (by advertising) and mobile video advertising.

3. Ad Blocking: Ad blocking will continue challenging the industry including, brands, agencies and publishers who will have to look for more context and less intrusive ads. The industry will have to become smarter in the way display ad campaigns are managed, listen more and answer questions from clients and customers and meet their expectations in terms of ad campaigns from a brand perspective, and user experience from a user perspective. In conclusion, setting best practices and finding ways to create the best user experiences and less intrusive campaigns for 2016 is a must for all involved in the industry.


As is evident, there are some common themes among our panel – video, programmatic and data are likely to influence mobile advertisers’ decisions. 2016 is set to be an exciting year for the industry and we look forward to covering it here.