Top Ten Digital Developments for 2012
There is often a feeling of déjà-vu when making predictions in digital marketing as the usual suspects tend to crop up…mobile, local, multichannel, data etc. Either we are all extremely bad at making predictions or the industry is failing us. Naturally I favour the latter since as I see it, we spend too long as an industry revelling on the ‘what’ (the opportunity) and not enough on the ‘how’ (the implementation). It’s time to make these things happen so let’s hope 2012 is the year of action!
Top 10 digital developments for 2012
1. Facebook to IPO
Expected in Q2 2012 and set to be the biggest technology IPO on record, raising $10bn and valuing Facebook at $100bn. So what will this mean? Will the role of investors lead to less focus on further development, acquisition and user experience, in favour of clawing back instant returns? Or will it in fact stimulate it? My guess is that it will most certainly stimulate it. Facebook has learnt a valuable lesson from Friends Reunited who, by prioritising the commercial over the user, initiated its own downfall. For Facebook, we could see the number of users reach 1 billion in 2012 and they have not and will not compromise that loyalty with a disrupted, overly advertiser driven user experience. Expect a host of changes and for the better.
2. Tablets taking over..
Although we have seen significant growth in the tablet market in 2011, driven largely by Apple’s iPad (c73% of the tablet market) and a series of flash sales e.g. HP Touchpad / Blackberry Playbook, 2012 is set for further acceleration with the launch of the next generation iPad and a suite of lower cost options, most notably Amazon’s recently launched Kindle Fire which is due to launch in the UK in Q1 2012 and expected to reach 15% of the overall tablet market.
Research conducted by QuickPlay Media revealed 51% of UK respondents had watched TV or a film on a tablet or smart mobile device. Coupled with the growth in simultaneous media usage, it presents a rich and vibrant environment in which to reach and engage consumers.
3. Connected TV
Recent weeks suggest exciting times ahead for the connected TV market in 2012. With Apple set to launch connected TV’s in 2012, Google’s Eric Schmidt predicting the majority of TV sets will include Google TV by the summer of 2012 and Microsoft’s recent roll out of the new Xbox Live experience, there is plenty room for optimism. Although there has been growth in 2011, it has been impaired by a combination of poor usability (Google TV a case in point) and a lack of clarity among marketers on how to approach this. A recent IAB report highlighted the appetite, with 85% interested in advertising opportunities but just 12% with a strategy in place.
Cross industry initiatives and new applications, which help marketers to make more informed and data driven decisions will help to address this. Take the recently launched social TV application Zeebox, which provides a platform to both observe and engage with consumers. From a measurement perspective, it may not be too long until we start referring to ‘social ratings’ alongside the more standard TVR’s.
4. Rise of m-commerce
m-commerce is widely expected to reach tipping point in 2012 following another year of exponential growth. Continued growth in smart phone/tablet adoption, changes in behaviour, i.e. more using mobile devices to research and make purchases and wider availability of transactional mobile environments, are the main contributing factors. Underlining this, eMarketer predicts a 73% increase in m-commerce sales ($11.6bn) in the US in 2012.
For marketers looking within, the challenge is to focus on the execution so that adoption is not stunted by poor (or lack of) functionality. In the UK, in 2011 QuBit estimated the loss of value to retailers to be in the region of £4bn, all due to poorly optimised mobile sites. It really is time to act, before it is too late.
Another year, another acronym! Let’s start with ‘SoLoMo’ –‘social’ ‘local’ ‘mobile’. Think Groupon, Foursquare, Gowalla etc. Following a somewhat precarious time for the category (modest results and delayed IPO by Groupon, and Facebook ditching their deals service), it may seem curious to feature this but it is the execution which has been poor, rather than consumer appetite, and this is likely to change in 2012.
The missing ingredient has been ‘personalisation’ (the ‘po’) which is something Facebook’s recent acquisition of Gowalla may set out to address. Combined with that, Google are set to launch their own assault on the market with a mobile check-in deals feature as part of Google+. What both of these have in common is a rich layer of social and demographic data which can be used to power the deal. From ‘we thought you would be interested in this’ to ‘your friends’ friend bought this’ presents a very exciting prospect indeed.
Crowdsourcing was featured last year in my predictions on the back of a number of high profile campaigns in 2010. 2011 may have failed to live up to those expectations in the same form but there are nevertheless exciting developments on a slightly different tact. If crowdsourcing is fundamentally about ‘sourcing tasks through a community’, as opposed to specific individuals, you only have to look at the group buying and daily deals services, such as Groupon, Living Social and eBay to see the essence of crowdsourcing at play. Major retail brands such as Gap and Superdry are seemingly using these services to ‘crowdsource’ which products consumers are most likely to buy. Far reaching, highly effective and all in real time.
7. Rise of automation and real time
The transformation in online display media buying towards greater automation and data driven decision making is set to accelerate in 2012. The infrastructure and supporting talent has been established and both publishers and clients will start to take greater strides towards wider adoption of this technique. While previously supply and the quality of that supply has been a problem, this is set to change with more adoption (by content owners) and richer formats including rich media, video and mobile. Take up by marketers will increase but many will choose to tread carefully amid concerns over the quality of inventory, possible abuse of data and perhaps more importantly, the notion of agencies ‘trading on their own account’ and the accompanying lack of transparency.
For 2012, we estimate the automated buying market in the UK will reach 20% of the display market (to £200m), compared with an estimated 6% in 2011.
8. Paid social to continue to grow
Wider adoption, improved access to inventory (through self serve platforms and API’s), better analytics and a growing diversity of options is set to stimulate investment in paid social media in 2012. Aside from a post-IPO Facebook, watch out also for Twitter who, following the development of their UK operations, including the recent appointment of their first UK Sales Director (previous head of YouTube, Bruce Daisley), they will actively be seeking to grow their position and offering in the market.
Keep an eye out for social search which is set to become more advanced in 2012. The specialist social search engines such as Quora will continue to grow but importantly (and long overdue), we should see improved search functionality across Twitter and Facebook. Also, the widely rumoured launch of Microsoft’s social search service Socl.com (no release date as yet).
9. ePrivacy – act before it is too late
10. Big data
Although the notion of ‘big data’ is not particularly new (in IT circles), in the marketing area it is widely being perceived as the ‘next frontier’, the movement from ‘fluff to science.’ So what does it mean? Essentially unlocking the intrinsic value stored within multiple sets of complex ‘big’ data. By doing this, the data becomes more accessible, more identifiable and ultimately more actionable. Data management platforms, e.g. Turn and business intelligence tools e.g. Tableau, MediaSense’s SIGNAL will help to facilitate this process and in turn lead to greater productivity and improved marketing effectiveness.
Exciting times ahead then!