Opinion: Content trends that will miss the mark in 2016

Eric Kneler is executive director of strategy at Meredith Xcelerated Marketing, a content marketing agency.

The end of the year means the release of thousands of articles predicting the next big thing in marketing. These usually include trends that are fading fast or trends that use technologies too early to make an impact. One prediction for certain is that there will be some major successes and missteps in 2016, and the right content choices will make all the difference. That said, here are some trends that marketers should think twice about.

Live streaming has the ingredients for disaster.
Live content is not something that many marketers have experience with, and it goes against the control that brand managers are used to. It is wrought with challenges as small as logo rights and as big as the content going uncontrollably off message. While only a few brave marketers are taking advantage of live streaming platforms like Periscope and Meerkat today, many more will try in 2016. A few will succeed, but at least one campaign will be a lesson in what not to do.

Emojis will be a double-edged sword.
A number of brands have done great campaigns with emojis. Social platforms are now offering sponsored emojis as ad units, and now agencies will put an emoji concept in every planning deck. The world will be flooded with meaningless emojis that are barely linked to the brand. These campaigns will get no recognition because they are a year late to the party. It’s not to say every paid emoji campaign will fail, but unless they are intrinsically linked to the brand, most will.

No one will see that VR campaign.
Next year will be big for virtual reality hardware, especially with the launch of Oculus Rift. Will this eventually become a new creative option in the marketing toolbox? Yes. Will 2016 be the year of VR? No.

Brands will strive to become the first in their category to launch a virtual reality campaign, but few consumers will have the technology to experience it. Earlier this year, the Oculus team hinted that a complete Rift system with suitable computer would cost around $1,500. For those not wanting the big investment, they can always throw their phone in Google Cardboard for the quick fix. Nonetheless, the barrier to entry is high, and unless a brand has an event to feature the experience, the only ones interested in this technology will be early adopters. So if a VR campaign launches and no one has the technology to see it, does it really make an impact? Probably not, but it will make a great case study right next to that augmented reality campaign.

This is not the year of the watch.
With the holidays around the corner, many colleagues will be coming back from the break with their glossy new smart watch. While it is a growing market and we will eventually make the shift to watch first design, 2016 is not the year to lose sleep on your watch-marketing strategy. This platform still needs to find its value beyond unique faces and notifications. For now, rest well knowing that the phone is about as small as your content needs to go (until 2017 or maybe 2018).

While 2016 is the year to think twice on live streaming, sponsored emojis, virtual reality and watch campaigns, this will become the year of content prioritization. With the explosion of platforms, devices, and new creative options, the need for content is increasing. Those who make bets on the right trends will be rewarded, so marketers will need to think hard about what opportunities they embrace. Yet it is just as important to understand what to pass on, and those decisions will make or break content success in this upcoming year.