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Buzz or Bull? The Top 21 Buzzwords of 2015/2016

Digital Marketing Comments (15)

You can’t go a day on the web without witnessing some overuse or misuse of buzzwords in tweets, posts and emails. I’m on a crusade to become “someone in the know” and so wanted to know exactly what all these buzzwords actually mean. Whether it’s a bullshit term created to refresh a dated expression or a valuable must have marketing method, I went on the hunt to find out. 

After scouring the web for 2015/2016’s buzzwords I managed to find 21 terms. For each one I have included the following information to give you an idea of how widespread or popular each buzzword is:

    • Twitter Mentions – I used Topsy’s search functionality to find out how many times that buzzword has been mentioned in tweets over the last 30 days (at time of checking).
    • Google Search Results – this is to give you an idea of how much content on the web mentions the buzzword.
    • In – if has embraced a term then perhaps we should as well? 
    • In Wikipedia? – if someone has bothered to create a page in this modern day user generated encyclopaedia then maybe we should take note?

I have organised the list by most Twitter mentions to least:

1.”Big Data”

big data

“Big data” will win you a game of Buzzword Bingo every time you play. The term is the Miley Cyrus of the buzzword world  (young and used up) and can be heard at every tech, digital or advertising conference during 2014. For me it conjures up this image in my head every time I hear it >

It is often used by folks who trying to convince brands they should be investing and implementing more technology and/or advertising budget on the internet. “Big data” is in fact the exponential growth and availability of data, both structured and unstructured. I think Jeff Anaya summed it up best when he described Big Data as being made up of “the three V’s” which are:

  • Volume is the large amount of data that can be stored.
  • Velocity is the rate at which this data is collected.
  • Variety refers to the vast, diverse types of data that the computers can track.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 247,987

Google Search Results: 16,000,000

In Yes, described as “data sets, typically consisting of billions or trillions of records, that are so vast and complex that they require new and powerful computational resources to process“.

In Wikipedia? Yes, described “as a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools“.

2. “Millennials”

generation YPrepare to hear this term a lot more during conferences, presentations and party political broadcasts. Essentially a term to scribe Genartion Y, the folks born between 1982 and 2004. These are the people who grow up heavily using communication, media and digital technologies. Some employers have raised concerns that ‘Millennials’ have too great expectations from the workplace.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 131,849

Google Search Results: 9,080,000

In Yes, described as “a person born in the 1980s or 1990s, especially in the U.S.; a member of Generation Y”

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as “a cohort following Generation X (also known as the Millennial Generation[1] or Generation Y).”

3.”The Internet of Things” aka “IoT”

internet of things

This very generalist term relates to the idea that in the future, our regular belongings like front doors, central heating, fridges, coffee mugs and beds will be connected and able to share and receive data. Marketers would then have access to vast amounts of consumer data the likes of which Google’s data crawling team could only dream of. All these items would have the potential to host screens from which they could deliver us adverts like a scene from an intrusive sci-fi movie. These already exist in a simpler form and include a person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip transponder and a car with built-in tyre pressure sensors. Watch this space…

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 36,688

Google Search Results: 93,300,000 

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as “uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure“.

4.”Thought Leader”

thought leader

This is thrown around by marketers on a daily basis whilst trying to sell the possible results of a client blogging or producing content. “You could be ‘the’ thought leader within your industry if you send out that digital press release” etc etc. Although a good term to sum up becoming a key authority  it does have an hint of “guru”(uh oh there’s buzzy word) about it.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 21,390

Google Search Results: 958,000

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as “an individual or firm that is recognized as an authority in a specialized field and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded“.


localisationThis is the concept of more and more companies who realise that due to the nature of our digitally connected world,  they now have products that have international appeal. But then flipping it on its head it also describes the movement towards a more localised want by consumers for those independent and convenient things around them. Google have embraced this introducing personalised map results into the search results for certain terms with local intent.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 12,522

Google Search Results: 36,800,000 

In Yes, described as “to make or become local in attitude or behaviour“.

In Wikipedia? Yes, but not in the content we are examining.

6.”Responsive Web Design”

responsive web design

If you view my site on different devices you will discover that I am in fact an advocate of responsive web design. In a world of ever increasing screens able to access web browsers it makes complete sense to have a dynamic adaptable website. Those who don’t could well fall afoul of the ruthless short attention spans and patience of the average user.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 11,146

Google Search Results: 47,600,00

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as “a Web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience

7.”Growth Hacking”

growth hacking

No, not the latest Viagra drug or genetically modified seeds!  It sounds like the  buzziest of job descriptions but what does a “growth hacker” actually do? Well the easiest way to illustrate is to think of a lean startup marketer. They often have a tiny budget to work with and virtually no resources so have to be very scrappy. These are folks who utilise classic marketing methods (persuasive content, email marketing, SEO and viral strategy) to convert the audience into users. They also do a bit of brand identity work trying to build a community through outreach and social media outlets.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 10,977

Google Search Results: 499,000

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as a “marketing technique developed by technology startups which uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure“.

8.”Native Advertising”

native advertising

This is one of the most used marketing buzzwords so far this year and has nothing to do with Native Americans. Often when people say “native advertising,” what they really mean is “sponsored content”. Don’t let those fools fool you! Native advertising comes in all shapes and sizes, from Twitter promoting a sponsored hashtag, to when the Xbox 360 sports game includes a billboard for Greggs (would love to see that). Here are 12 good examples from our chums at Econsultancy:

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 8,436

Google Search Results: 1,030,000

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as “an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience“.


viewabilityThis has “buzzword” written all over it. “Viewability” actually refers to the concept of whether or not an advertisement that someone paid for was actually seen by real life people. As with any marketing on or off the web, what’s the point in creating something if no one actually views it? Adage actually released figures in 2013 stating that ‘nearly 50% of all online ads arent seen‘. Viewability may be ‘cringe’ (which is ironically cringe worthy in itself) but it’s what brands, marketers and publishers all crave.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 2,624

Google Search Results: 468,000

In No

In Wikipedia? No

10.”Rich Media”

rich media

“Rich media” has traditionally covered display and banner adverts that often expand to offer an interactive element.  With developments in video, htlm5 and Flash brands are pushing this media format to a new level. Here are some great examples of rich media advertisements:

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 2,007

Google Search Results: 3,080,000

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, but interestingly redirects to the “interactive media” page.


newjackingNewsjacking is the art or science of injecting your brands ideas into a breaking news story and generating media coverage and social media engagement as a result. A blackout in the USA provided the perfect opportunity for brands to “newsjack”, as seen in these examples:

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 1,643

Google Search Results: 132,000

In No

In Wikipedia? No

12.”Brand Storytelling”

brand story telling

The act of storytelling is not exactly a radical new concept and dates way back to our stone-age ancestors. With the age of Content Marketing firmly upon us “brand storytelling” is a buzzword that sits at the heart of any brand strategy. The content is actually staying much the same. It’s the technology advances that are changing the game for how we market content. As technology evolves, the user’s expectation for the delivery of content does as well. The majority of brand marketing efforts tend to fail if there isn’t a story at the heart of it. Here are some examples of brands that incorporated storytelling for a successful campaign:

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 1,279

Google Search Results: 170,000

In No

In Wikipedia? No

13.”Click Fraud”

click fraud

With a vast amount of advertising now being based on a “cost per interaction” there are an equally vast number of fraudsters out there gaming these systems. “Click fraud” is essentially the act of doing just that. Someone sets up an automated or manual method of interacting with an advert purely to clear out the advertiser’s budget forcing that ad offline and the advertiser a loss of revenue / visits.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 631

Google Search Results: 1,330,000

In Yes, described as “the practice of repeatedly clicking on a specific Web advertisement, simply to raise the cost to the marketer

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as “a type of fraud that occurs in pay per click online advertising when a person, automated script or computer program imitates a legitimate user for the purpose of generating a charge per click without having actual interest in ad’s link.


customer centricity

This is essentially the concept that you put you customer at the centre of your brand strategy, activity and analysis. With the advances in technology comes a more empowered customer who won’t settle for second rate service. This makes it even more important to manage the ‘always right’ customer of 2014 using live chat, social media or traditional methods. A happy customer is often one that feels like a product or service is built around them.This rather nice infographic talks you through what it means to be ‘customer centric’.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 583

Google Search Results: 926,000

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, but redirects to the “customer satisfaction” page

15.”Deep Linking”

deep linking

Anyone in digital marketing will think of “deep linking” as when one site links to, a deeper page than the homepage, on another site. When people use the phrase in advertising however, they’re talking about the ability to link users from the web to a specific place inside a mobile app. Marketers believe that this tactic holds major potential for brands and developers because it allows users with a department store’s app to click a Google search ad for a pair of boots and be sent directly to the equivalent page within the app to purchase the boots. The gang over at Google have even crated a neat little video about it:

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 480

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as “using a hyperlink that links to a specific, generally searchable or indexed, piece of web content on a website rather than the home page

Google Search Results: 426,000


16.”Engagement Marketing”

engagement marketing

No nothing to do with persuading a consumer to propose, “engagement marketing” is a catch all term to describe consumers interacting with a brand or its advertising on various platforms including social media. Despite the fact that marketers are constantly striving to increase and quantify their brand’s engagements these often fall under meaningless interactions such as someone taking the piss out of a brands TV ad and mentioning them in a tweet or a page ‘Like’ by a user who just wanted a competition entry.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 460

Google Search Results: 475,000

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as a “marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages consumers to participate in the evolution of a brand


17.”Omnichannel Retailing”


“Omnichannel retailing” is the concept of encompassing social media, online, bricks and mortar, and mobile, into one seamless retail experience for the customer. For example Argos’s very successful click and collect service merging the digital channel with their physical store or a brand introducing iPads across it’s’ high street stores to enable the customer to browse online. The key is often not to bewilder your audience or consumer with so many options their patience wears and they bounce in favour of a competitor’s more simple approach.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 213

Google Search Results: 507,000

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as “the evolution of multi-channel retailing, but concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels“.


NeuromorphicsThis sounds like something from the movie i-Robot but is in fact “the first big buzzword for tech in 2014” according to the Huffington Post. The concept involves building &  training computers to think like humans do. It is a concept that has been around for a while and one that holds exciting and life changing possibilities in the near future. For now though it fall into the “wait and see” section.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 120

Google Search Results: 282,000

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, the description of which is very complex so I have simplified it to ” a new class of “brainlike computers.”

19.”Programmatic Marketing”


This fancy sounding term refers to any digital marketing or advertising spots that are purchased using an automated computer software or program.  As oppose to having a website’s publisher or salesperson go through the buying process with a brand. Google Adwords bidding system is probably the best known example of this type of marketing.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 120

Google Search Results:  2,950,000

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as marketing campaigns that are automatically triggered by any type of event and deployed according to a set of rules applied by software and algorithms


20.”Media Agnostic”

media agnosticDespite sounding like some sort of modern cult leader, “Media agnostic” stems from the philosophy that marketers shouldn’t hire ad agencies with the intent of creating a “tv campaign”. Instead they should be crafting a message that appeals to the consumers the brand is trying to reach via TV and other media channels where  the consumer is most likely to find it.

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 58

Google Search Results: 41,500 

In No 

In Wikipedia? No

21.”Immersive Design”

immersive design

When most of us hear immersive we probably think of virtual reality headsets or curved TV screens but there is a new immersive buzzword on the market! Whether it is an immersive website, piece of content or game, it needs designed and guess what that design is called, yup – “immersive design”. I think html 5 has brought a new angle to rich media with websites utilising scrolling pages and cues to create immersive experiences for consumers. Here are some great examples:

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 13

Google Search Results: 41,600

In No

In Wikipedia? Yes, described as “the activity of a new generation of designers who work inclusively across all story-driven media“.


selfieNot strictly an industry buzzword but such an irritating term I thought I would include it anyway. Essentially a glorified self-portrait, the selfie has become ‘the’ method used by celebs to show they are just like rest of us. If a brand can find a way to get in on the “selfie” craze then they could potentially growth hack their viewability & engagement and then become a thought leader (tried to use as many buzzwords in one sentence).

Twitter Mentions in Last 30 Days (via Topsy): 9,080,916

Google Search Results: 43,500,000

In Yes, described as “a photograph that one takes of oneself with a digital camera or a front-facing smartphone, tablet or webcam

In Wikipedia? Of course it is, described as “a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone.”


If anyone wants to turn the above into a pretty infographic be my guest (but reference me). I would love to hear your favourite or hated buzzwords. Pop them in the comments section below.

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On April 4, 2014