We are coming to the end of another year and before we all get caught up in party season, it’s time to take stock of 2015 and look ahead to 2016 with our year-end blog series.
2015 has been an eventful year for us in performance digital marketing. Apart from the ever-accelerating pace of change in technology, there have been some specific ‘game-changers’ this year—some of which disrupted the way we do business and some which had barks that were worse than their bites.
Back in April, there was a great deal of hype around ‘Mobilegeddon’, the change to Google’s search algorithm that favours mobile friendly sites in smartphone search results. Although we worried about the impact this might have, it did not have the immediate effect many expected. Instead Google seem to have dialled it in carefully, giving publishers the opportunity to get their mobile houses in order.
A significant change none-the-less, and an important change for the better in a country that (at the last count) has 83% smartphone ownership and 80% mobile internet usage.* More, in both cases, than the world average and more than the USA, the UK… or Sweden!
In January YouTube moved to the HTML5 standard, then in June Google Chrome announced that it would stop supporting Flash in September, followed by a similar announcement from Firefox in July. So, from September, there was no more Flash, only HTML5. This was one of those big fierce dogs with a bite absolutely as bad as its bark! This change, although well publicised, seemed to throw the creative agencies of Ireland into a spin. Our AdOps department quickly turned into a technical help centre for creative agencies and agony aunt to clients as studios struggled to adjust. We created a whitepaper on Chrome’s move to HTML5 to help navigate them through the storm.
Then, also in September (a momentous month) Apple changed the game, too. They removed the barriers for app developers and paved the way for them to build apps with “content blocking” functionality for iOS mobile devices. Apple mobile users can now block most ads and user tracking mechanisms on websites. Ad blocking on desktops arrived on the scene in 2006, but this was the first time it had been made available on mobile devices and Apple was the first key industry player to support ad blocking strongly.
The answer, of course, is for our industry to rise to this challenge by creating better, more relevant, more engaging ads that users actually want and choose to see. Instead of investing resources to fight ad blocking, we need to create valuable experiences for people… experiences that people don’t want to block. It’s no longer only about selling a product or service; it’s also about adding value.
Then, in October, Facebook decided to use Ireland (and Spain) as test markets for Facebook ‘Reactions’, the little row of emoticons that allows you to respond to posts with (slightly) more subtlety than a blanket ‘Like’. Mind you, I’ve had a couple of “should’ve gone to spec savers’ moments where I’ve ‘Angry-ed’ a post I meant to ‘Ha ha’…
Facebook had a number of other progressive launches in 2015… The introduction of ‘Shop now” buttons in Instagram in June, is a stand-out, and started to move that platform into a realm that’s interesting to us performance marketers for the first time.
All of that really only scratches the surface of everything we saw in 2015… The iProspect Ireland team will, over the next few days, give their individual perspectives on the year past and a bit more detail on the changes that affected their area specifically, so whether working in display, social, ad ops or SEO, each will have their unique take and their unique view on the year to come. And one thing’s for sure, the rate of change in our industry is only ever going to increase… Enjoy!
* Source: GlobalWebIndex.