8 advertising predictions for 2016, only one of which will likely happen.


  1. Content-Schmontent. Yes, the smart brands will continue to produce content that is helpful, beautiful, engaging, and useful. But content can be clutter just like ads and just posting cool content on the site-of-the-month probably isn’t going to be enough to break through. Brands probably ought to reallocate some of their massive digital budgets to plain ol’ advertising — to drive viewers to all that cool new content.
  2. Just because the media world has gone kaleidoscopically-fractal, brands do not have to follow suit. For some brands, it may pay to set up camp at one or two of the emerging media and just call it home for awhile.
  3. More and more magazines will start focusing on long-copy, deeply researched articles. Personally, I can’t lean into a laptop and read anything for more than a minute. Lean-back platforms like tablets and smartphones help a little bit, but then the screen size or the re-flowing can fragment my understanding of articles of length or substance. I find myself having to scroll back and forth. I guess I subscribe to the idea of subscriptions, you know — good ol’ magazines the mail. I’m digging the new Newsweek with their two longish articles per issue. I also love FastCompany and Harper’s. The paper versions.
  4. Influencer marketing is gonna get crazy bigger. I just read on Forbes.com that 25% of all branded search results is user-generated. Not brand-created, but from bloggers and YouTube stars. My friend the super-smart Emily Sanders, CD at 360i, just gave a cool presentation showing how businesses are getting back something like $6 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. As the venerable David Ogilvy once said, “Dat be cray.”
  5. I haven’t got the iPhone 6 yet. (I’m holding out for iPhone 28.) I am however looking forward to using Apple Pay and my guess is that ’16 will be the year mobile payments go nuclear. I remember in the ‘90s it took years for people to trust putting their credit cards on file with the Amazons of the world. The shift to mobile wallets may not take as long.
  6. Speaking of Apple, I worry about my Apple. They aren’t nearly as hot as they once were, but perhaps it’s too much to expect year-after-year breakthroughs from any company; even Apple; or Pixar (remember Cars 2?). I’m hoping they add something massive and cool to the Apple watch to make it the breakthrough product it could’ve been.
  7. Have I mentioned how crazy I am about my Nest thermostat? Obviously, other connected objects are coming, but more interesting will be seeing who figures out the “iTunes of connected objects.” Otherwise, by the time I get my iPhone 28 I’ll have to scroll through pages and pages of apps: one for the coffee maker, one for the fridge, the TV, the security system.
  8. My final prediction for 2016 is that sometime in January – maybe around the 16th or so but I’m just guessing, okay, don’t hold me to it, what am I, Kreskin? – but sometime in January of 2016, the fifth edition of Hey Whipple, Squeeze This will be released. I predict it will feature tons of new material as well as a smart new contributing author, Edward Boches (late of Mullen, now a student-favorite prof at BU).

Like I said, probably none of this stuff will happen. Except #8.


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Luke Sullivan

Author, speaker, and ad veteran available to recharge, reinvigorate, and refocus marketing, advertising, and branding firms.

I give a hugely energetic series of presentations on innovation, creativity, branding, and marketing. I spent 32 years in the trenches of advertising (at agencies like Martin, GSD&M, and Fallon) and I’ve put everything I learned into my book, Hey Whipple, Squeeze This. But for me nothing beats taking the message out and speaking to living breathing audiences at clients, agencies, and conferences. You can book me on the button below.