The Full List


Main Jams


Song #1: Royals – Lorde

Prediction: Companies will prepare themselves for generation Z


But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
But everybody’s like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.
We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.

And we’ll never be royals (royals).
It don’t run in our blood,
That kind of luxe just ain’t for us.
We crave a different kind of buzz.
Let me be your ruler (ruler),
You can call me queen Bee
And baby I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule, I’ll rule.
Let me live that fantasy.

“Like the badly behaved older child, millennials are getting all the attention,” says a report from J. Walter Thompson Intelligence. “It’s time we looked at generation Z, a group that wants to change the world and might just do it.”

We’ll call this group digital natives, because most of them can’t remember life before Facebook (scary, huh?). Their sheer annual purchasing power ($44 billion in the US) makes them worth looking at closely. More importantly, their preferences are bellwethers for the marketing of the future, in which there’ll be little distinction between digital marketing and so-called traditional marketing.

The research suggests that digital natives don’t respond well to marketing that’s flashy, in-your-face, and one-size-fits-all:

They’re more than just consumers: they want to be heard
In the age of traditional media, brands talked and consumers listened — that was about it. Nowadays, ordinary people can communicate back. Brands are lucky if they can get noticed among popular YouTube stars and Vine sensations; they’re even luckier if no one bashes them on Twitter.

The best brands have embraced the change. Burberry did it as early as 2009, launching a website called The Art of the Trench, where users can upload pictures of themselves wearing trenches and comment on each other’s shots. Since then, the company’s eCommerce sales have gone up 50% year-over-year.

They want personal experiences
Digital natives have grown up with endless entertainment options (thanks, internet!) and specialized curricula at school. It follows that digital natives want options from brands, too.

Creating personalized experiences — and even allowing customers to customize products — will start becoming standard in 2016 and beyond.

They’re a little bit impatient
Uber is available around the world; Amazon boasts lightning-fast shipping; food delivery services are spreading. Digital natives are growing up in a world where much of what they want is a few clicks away; brands will have to keep up with their expectation for speed.


Song #2: You Don’t Know Me – Ben Folds

Prediction: Consumers will rebel against brands that can’t demonstrate an understanding of their individual needs


I wanna ask you —
Do you ever sit and wonder,
It’s so strange
That we could be together for
So long, and never know, never care
What goes on in the other one’s head?
Things I’ve felt but I’ve never said
You said things that I never said
So I’ll say something that I should have said long ago:
You don’t know me at all
(You don’t know me)
You don’t know me at all (at all)

“My favorite bartenders always remember my name,” writes William Harding of Tahzoo, a customer experience agency. “They know what I like and how to talk to me. I expect that from them and, in return, I frequent the bars where they work. There’s nothing worse than being treated like a total stranger at a bar that I’ve been visiting for years.”

For a long time, customers didn’t have the same expectations of brands with an online presence. When you visit a website you love, you generally do get treated like a total stranger, completely indistinguishable from everybody else.

But at this point, brands can be even better than your local bartender. Massive amounts of data and cloud computing have given rise to predictive marketing technologies, which allow marketers to predict what every single person wants to see — and deliver that automatically.

Customers are increasingly expecting brands to use predictive marketing, because getting exactly what you want feels awesome:

  • According to Accenture’s research, nearly 60% of customers want real-time promotions and offers.
  • According to a study by Magnetic and Retail TouchPoints, more than half of internet users in North America “said that information shared with them should be relevant to what they’re currently interested in or looking to buy, as well as pertinent to their personal taste, style, age group or location.”

Both B2C and B2B companies are already seeing results from predictive marketing. According to VentureBeat, 87% of companies who’ve used web personalization to make their sites more relevant have seen at least a 5% lift in their most important metrics; 39% of companies have seen a lift of 20% in their most important metrics. (For more on web personalization, check out our recap of the VentureBeat report.)

For now, if you haven’t implemented predictive marketing, you’re in the majority. But the game will change fast.


Song #3: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift

Prediction: Marketers will shift focus from user acquisition to retention


We are never, ever, ever getting back together
We are never, ever, ever getting back together
You go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me (talk to me)
But we are never ever ever ever getting back together.

(Sorry about the cover. T-Swift isn’t into Spotify these days…)

Those people who keep getting irrelevant messages from you? They’re pretty done with it:

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According to Gigya’s 2015 report on privacy and personalization, customers who receive irrelevant messages are likely to unsubscribe from email lists, stop visiting brands’ websites, stop buying from them, and even advocate against them.

Retention goes hand-in-hand with predictive marketing. If you want to retain someone as a customer, you have to demonstrate that you really understand what he or she wants. Obviously, that’s not a simple endeavor, but it’s worthwhile: marketers have known for years that it costs more to acquire a customer than to retain one (to mention an oft-cited fact from Gartner, 80% of a company’s future profits come from 20% of its existing customers).

Traditional mass marketing barely cut in 2015, and it definitely won’t cut it this year. In 2016, brands will renew their focus on retention, harnessing their data — and their creativity — to keep users coming back.


Song #4: Awake – Tycho

Prediction: eCommerce companies will fully embrace content marketing


This song is calm and lyric-less: in other words, it’s great for a writing session. This year, marketers at eCommerce companies will find themselves having a lot more of those (or employing freelance writers). Why? Because the best companies in the space are moving from product-centricity to customer-centricity.

A prescient quote from Patrick Adams, who was Victoria’s Secret’s Global Chief Marketing Officer in 2013, foreshadows the shift:

“Customer expectations have evolved and customer needs cannot be an afterthought. Focusing on the customer can’t be just a great tagline in a CEO’s report to the street. It must become part of a company’s DNA. Know your customer, [and] use that knowledge to create meaningful dialog that actually ‘Says Something’ to them. Do away with the practice of creating pointless digital experiences . . . .”

What does “saying something” look like in eCommerce?

In short, the best eCommerce content demonstrates how products would fit into shoppers’ lifestyle; it’s also valuable whether or not someone ultimately decides to buy.


Song #5: Sorry – Justin Bieber

Prediction: To stop alienating customers, advertisers will repent and embrace storytelling


Is it too late now to say sorry?
Yeah I know that I let you down
Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?
I’m sorry yeah
Sorry yeah
Yeah I know that I let you down
Is it too late to say I’m sorry now?

Before ad-blocking technologies came out, internet users saw disruptive online ads as an annoying-but-inevitable part of life, like taxes. But now? Not so much: “According to some estimates, 144 million people globally used an ad blocker last year, and that was up 70 percent year on year,” Business Insider Global Advertising Editor Lara O’Reilly told NPR.

One particularly spicy article in Techdirt made a compelling point: right now, ad creative simply isn’t engaging enough.

There’s a reason why users use ad blockers after all: many online ads suck harder than a vacuum cleaner looking for love. But they don’t have to. Everyone has their stories about ads they have liked or loved. Some readers will always block ads, but not most of them. If ads were good and fun, they wouldn’t need to be blocked and users wouldn’t want to block them. Fix that and the war on ad blocking can be retired.

Making ads better isn’t just about improving the actual content, though. It’s also about making the experience of viewing an ad less disruptive.

In response to the ad-blocking problem, executives at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the World Federation of Advertisers have warned advertisers to prioritize user experiences “before the issue grows further out of their control,” according to Marketing Dive. From the IAB’s senior VP of technology and ad operations: “As technologists tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience. We messed up. Looking back now, our scraping of dimes may have cost us dollars in consumer loyalty.”

Which brings us to the next song…


Song #6: Killer Queen – Queen

Prediction: Brand strategists and UX experts will work together more closely than ever


She keeps Moët et Chandon
In her pretty cabinet
‘Let them eat cake, ‘ she says
Just like Marie Antoinette
A built-in remedy
For Kruschev and Kennedy
At anytime an invitation
You can’t decline

Caviar and cigarettes
Well-versed in etiquette
Extraordinarily nice

She’s a Killer Queen
Gunpowder, gelatine
Dynamite with a laser beam
Guaranteed to blow your mind

Someone’s user experience is how he or she feels when interacting with a computer-based system. The lyrics above describe UX nicely: done right, it’s classy (“well-versed in etiquette”) and powerful (“dynamite with a laser beam”). Since each company’s brand is now completely intertwined with its digital presence, marketers are beginning to give UX the attention it deserves.

In the past few decades, UX has gone through three basic waves. The first wave, at the dawn of the internet, was about making sure things actually worked. The second wave was was about making things pretty. We’re now well into the third wave, which is about making things intuitive; a fantastic way to curry favor with customers is to make digital experiences stress-free and compelling.

One of the best ways to eliminate stress is to reduce the number of options you present: the best user experiences anticipate needs and guide people toward the things they want. Harvard Business School’s recent piece on customer journeys presents a great example from the hospitality industry:

Starwood Hotels . . . is rolling out an app that texts a guest with her room number as she enters the hotel, checks her in with a thumbprint scan on her smartphone, and, as she approaches her room, turns her phone into a virtual key that opens the door. The app then sends well-timed and personalized recommendations for entertainment and dining.

Great UX doesn’t even need to be that complicated. Facebook’s Instant Articles exemplify the immense impact of something as simple as speed: The New York Times’ Instant Articles are performing better than the content it posts to Facebook because Instant Articles load faster.

Extra Tracks


Song #7: Every Breath You Take – The Police

Prediction: Businesses will turn big data into smart data (e.g. actionable data) — and be less creepy while doing it


Every breath you take and every move you make
Every bond you break, every step you take, I’ll be watching you
Every single day and every word you say
Every game you play, every night you stay, I’ll be watching you


Song #8: Bills, Bills, Bills – Destiny’s Child

Prediction: Companies will focus on tracking ROI to build stronger brands (beyond short-lived campaigns)


Can you pay my bills?
Can you pay my telephone bills?
Do you pay my automo’ bills?
If you did then maybe we could chill
I don’t think you do
So, you and me are through


Song #9: Hotline Bling – Drake

Prediction: Everything digital will be optimized for mobile


You used to call me on my cell phone
Late night when you need my love
Call me on my cell phone
Late night when you need my love
And I know when that hotline bling
That can only mean one thing


Song #10: Technologic – Daft Punk

Prediction: Like cloud computing before it, artificial intelligence will go mainstream


Buy it, use it, break it, fix it,
Trash it, change it, mail – upgrade it,
Charge it, point it, zoom it, press it,
Snap it, work it, quick – erase it,
Write it, cut it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick – rewrite it


Song #11: I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

Prediction: Email, the marketing workhorse, will go modern (think: interactivity, personalization that goes well beyond {!first_name}, etc.)


The time has come for me
To break out of the shell
I have to shout
That I’m coming out


Song #12: Dark Fantasy – Kanye West

Prediction: Marketers will begin connecting online and offline experiences through AR and VR (shout-out to Kanye West, who — love him or hate him — always dreams big)


Can we get much higher?
So high
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh


Song #13: You’ve Got A Friend – James Taylor

Prediction: Marketers will embrace helpful bots and digital assistants to optimize a wide variety of processes


When you’re down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, nothing is going right
Close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night
You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running, oh yeah baby, to see you again
Winter, spring, summer or fall
All you’ve got to do is call
And I’ll be there, ye, ye, ye
You’ve got a friend


Song #14: With A Little Help From My Friends – The Beatles

Prediction: Marketing organizations will start empowering their employees to represent their respective companies online


I get by with a little help from my friends,
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,
With a little help from my friends


Song #15: Video Killed the Radio Star – The Buggles

Prediction: By the end of the year, the words “content marketing” will make people think of videos


Video killed the radio star
Video killed the radio star
In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone too far


Song #16: Starman – David Bowie

Prediction: We had to include him. Bowie was one of the most fearlessly creative artists of our time; we hope marketers will take 2016 as an opportunity to experiment.


There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile

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