Millward Brown recently predicted some digitla trends for 2012, which can be found here. Some interesting thoughts mixed in with what has been spouted for a while now (as always, mobile is predicted to grow more).
1) Gamification unlocked: Big Brands become more playful
‘Gamification’ is a simple idea: engage people by applying game mechanics to non-game situations. Points, level progression, badges, achievements, virtual currency & puzzles. The principles of gamification may be simple, but effective execution is not. People’s motivations and approaches vary. Crude forms of gamification such as Foursquare-style badges and points-based rewards is mere ‘badgification’ – a one-size-fits-all solution to a far more complex problem.
Gamification is inherently social – so which brands will succeed? I could unlock my Super Dad achievement for purchasing Pampers five weeks in a row (earning me a 10% discount), get 50 points each time my friends and I buy Special K in the same week (worth 50p), and level to Master Environmentalist (giving me access to green offers) for reducing my car’s weekly mileage and refuelling with BP.
2) Just tap it! Wide spread adoption of the ‘mobile wallet’
We take our mobile phone everywhere – just like our wallets – so what if we combined the two?
In 2012, we will see the rise of the ‘Mobile Wallet’ with exciting technology developments like Near Field Communication (NFC), enabling data transfer between two devices in close proximity.
Don’t fumble with cash, simply pull out your phone, tap it on the reader and you’re done. Mobile phones are becoming ‘the hub and centre’ of our lives. We’ll be using phones as identification – licenses, passports, passes; as keys to unlock our belongings, as boarding passes and tickets – all from a tap.
Brands will need to pay attention to mobile payments and leverage them to connect with consumers in compelling and meaningful ways.
3) ‘Virtual Togetherness’: TV and Social Media fuels an explosion in tools and technologies for interaction and research
Social tools and technologies that enable people to interact with TV programs will explode in 2012. Innovations will emerge that allow people to engage with shows in ways we haven’t thought of.
The explosion of social media will see TV becoming an even bigger echo-chamber for interaction and engagement.
Throw in Twitter, a backstage blog, a handful of hash-tags and an interactive app and TV will be on social steroids. Social media will allow users to interact with TV shows in innovative ways and TV producers will use this data for creative inspiration.
Services such as Bluefin Labs/Zeebox indicate traditional TV ratings may be augmented by ‘social ratings’ as advertisers will no doubt be keen to understand how well a show is travelling beyond the TV audience.
4) Online Video Invades the Living Room
In 2012, video consumption will evolve. As the adoption of increasingly consumer-centric home entertainment technology catches on, video that had previously been consumed online will “reverse-migrate” to the living room.
Boxee, Apple TV and Google TV are all attempting to bridge the internet and the living room. But only a few have begun to scratch the surface of a truly immersive multimedia experience. Barriers to widespread adoption remain – lackluster demand, technology, and licensing agreements.
As companies innovate toward the quintessential multimedia hub, you can bet that content agreements, distribution channels, and strategic partnerships are being created behind the scenes.
5) Mobile marketing will become more social and local than ever before
The future of mobile marketing will be intertwined with social and location-based marketing (SoLoMo). Successful marketing will combine relevance, location and timing. SoLoMo will prevail in existing geo-social apps like Foursquare, Shopkick and Yelp. Retailers will experiment with geo-fenced mobile marketing with companies like Placecast. Social buying (e.g. Groupon and LivingSocial) will become more app-focused and provide real-time alerts on local deals.
Brands will create their own apps that tap into geo-location services and social networks. Messaging will become more relevant by exploiting location-based targeting and embedding social content/shareability. Technology improvements and richer mobile ads will facilitate these approaches. Pure mobile marketing will be exchanged for SoLoMo strategies.
6) Growth: the only App trend that really matters
Developers and marketers should look beyond Apple’s app store if they want to ride the next Angry Bird. We’ll see cross-media app promotion and clever use of the social echo-chamber to create the next blockbuster.
Expect a tsunami of demand from first-time smart phone users exploring their new device. ‘In-App’ ads will be richer and a blurring of the boundaries between mobile, online and TV will continue. HTML5 will drive down costs of cross platform development and allow apps to be downloaded directly from publishers, freeing them from Apple’s restrictions.
The app story isn’t over – it’s just moving up to the next level.
7) Social CPG e-commerce: Tiptoeing between engagement and marketing leads us back to traditional marketing vehicles
As online grocery shopping becomes more mainstream we will see an increase in paid media which raises awareness about the benefits of CPG eCommerce. CPG brands will experiment with social media to stimulate eCommerce.
Social media can be used to kick start conversations and build awareness while sneak previews/special offers can spur sales for new products online before they even reach traditional shelves.
CPG marketers should embrace technological advances, but ‘social commerce’ needs to be approached with caution. If there is too much focus on marketing instead of delivering an experience, consumers will vote with their wallets or worse – their mouths. Fans primarily want to enjoy a genuine relationship and a sense of community.
8) Social Graphs Will Generate Meaningful Data For Brand Measurement
Nearly every social platform now takes advantage of our ‘social graph” to bolster user experience/adoption and to create more value. We constantly generate streams of data that gives marketers a richer level of insight into consumer habits and attitudes than we’ve ever had before.
A unified social graph will give rise to new brand value generation across categories and platforms. Mining platforms for explicit, implicit, and analytic consumer data will become a core measurement approach for brands.
As adoption of social media becomes more widespread it will function as a more accurate barometer of consumer opinion. This is the age of Big Data and brands will capitalize on it.
9) Regulators focus on the real price for ‘free’ access
With increasingly ubiquitous media interactions, consumers will be confronted with paying to manage the way data about their online activities is shared. Options might include paying for applications that manage their identity or paying to access content that would otherwise be free. Or they might simply have to disconnect from networks where information sharing is the cost of entry.
Regulators will take a closer look at the actual conflicts in the marketplace. Chief among them will be the ability to use an individual’s digital footprint to evaluate that individual’s eligibility for products and services.
As brands use data in ways consumers don’t approve of or expect, we may start to see trust erode.
10) The arrival of Seamless Sharing
Tomorrow’s successful social networks will allow users to overcome barriers that separate them from others; online traffic will be content-driven, not platform-defined.
We see this trend in the ‘sharing’ buttons on many web pages. While ‘shareability’ is a relatively new concept, ideas like ‘virality’ have been an established measure of online success for some time.
The ability to measure ‘shareability’ will be used to determine levels of influence and to better understand how information travels. Brands that create the most innovative and engaging content will benefit from riding the share-wave.
11) China: ‘one stop shop’ convergence of micro-blogging, social networks and information portals
The explosive growth in social networks has had world-wide repercussions not least in China. Social media thrives under the umbrella of Facebook alternatives such as Ren Renand Kaixin. With a desire to share opinions, bloggers migrated towards social networks in which to provide personal musings.
While recreational time in China is a premium, the tide is turning fast with the advent of micro-blogging (the most popular being Weibo). Between December 2010 and June 2011, Weibo usage grew 200% and is usurping other social networks as the place to broadcast.
2012 will bring about integration and how to manage consumer expectations on news, communication and information sharing. Portals (who want a piece of the action), micro-blogs and social networks will converge to offer users an integrated one-stop shop.
12) Online Advertising: Real-time Decision Making Takes Centre Stage
2012 will see an increased demand for real-time campaign insight, fuelling the emergence of intelligent automated decision-making processes for campaign optimisation.
This will be the year when this impact is felt across the industry. Media buyers will invest heavily in their demand-side platforms and become accustomed to responding to real-time analytics.
Industry players such as market researchers and creative agencies will rise to the challenge and create solutions that provide real-time ad evaluation and creative recalibration.
Successful players will be those who learn to merge real-time data from media plans with analytics and creative evaluation to optimize online advertising.