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Think BR: Mindshare's 14 predictions for digital marketing in 2013

Media agency Mindshare gives its predictions for the year ahead.

Constant connections via 4G and WiFi will be a theme of 2013

Constant connections via 4G and WiFi will be a theme of 2013

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  • More consumers willing to pay for digital content = changing economic landscape for digital media  People will become increasingly happy to pay to access digital content thanks to the continually improving content-consumption experience afforded by tablets. At the same time, the profile of paid-for digital content consumers will continue to diversify as tablets continue to fall in price. Already in 2012 we saw £1bn worth of digital entertainment content downloaded in the UK, and this will give publishers more confidence to experiment with freemium and pay-wall models. Expect to see another large news publisher put up a paywall in 2013. But as publishers start to acquire more revenue from paid-content models it could mean that display advertising volumes in premium environments will decline which has two consequences. Firstly, brands will have to become more adept at developing branded content if they want to reach consumers in premium environments. Secondly, brands will become increasingly reliant on social platform advertising to achieve scale whilst targeting specific audiences (see also points 3 & 12).
  • Adaptive digital marketing We will start to see more examples of brands anticipating moments where they can adapt their message to real-world outcomes which are relevant to their brand, and/or reacting to unexpected news in a thought-provoking and disruptive manner. Digital channels will play a key role in delivering adapted messages thanks to their flexibility and immediacy. Expect to see more real-time digital content feeding in to TV ads - as was seen with campaigns in 2012 from BP (Home Team) & Fox Pictures (Prometheus) - both of which fused Channel 4 & Twitter.
  • RTB (real-time bidding) exchanges provided by global digital platform companies will become more prevalent in 2013 as the likes of Twitter, and maybe Apple, look to replicate the success of the launch of Facebook’s Exchange last year. Facebook’s RTB Exchange will become more popular as brands become more confident in their use of Facebook’s ever-changing and somewhat confusing native ad unit ecosystem. Indeed, there’s a good chance that the success of Facebook’s Exchange (ie, ads within Facebook) may expedite the launch in 2013 of a Facebook-controlled web-wide ad network competitor to Google’s AdSense (ie, ads outside of Facebook, targeted against Facebook-controlled data).
  • Social TV ratings Twitter and Nielsen announced an exclusive agreement to create a ‘Nielsen Twitter TV rating’ in the US at the end of last year. They have pledged to deliver a syndicated-standard metric around the reach of TV conversation on Twitter, slated for commercial availability at the start of the autumn 2013 TV season. TV buyers in the US will then be able to plan their schedules to maximise share of social conversation, and planners will have a metric to quantify the social effect of multi-screen connected TV campaigns. Expect a similar Twitter initiative in the UK to be announced in 2013.
  • Cross-device targeting across mobile and fixed-desktop internet-connected devices will become truly viable in 2013. By matching non-personally-identifiable cookies across mobile and desktop it will be possible to sequentially target messages as the individual user moves from one device to another. This will become possible thanks to advanced data management platforms (DMP’s) and probabilistic algorithms. The net result will be that marketers will finally be able to sew messages together across digital user journeys, and agencies will need to integrate digital specialisms more closely than ever.
  • Closed-loop attribution systems developed by global digital media platforms will make it easier to ‘close the loop’ between digital media activity and physical retail sales in 2013. Two significant initiatives from Facebook and Weve will lead the charge. Facebook’s system launched last year in the US in partnership with Datalogix, which uses loyalty-card purchase data from over 1,200 physical stores in the US to evaluate ROI from Facebook campaigns. Expect to see Facebook launch a similar system in the UK. Meanwhile Weve, the long-awaited JV between O2, EE and Vodafone, is perfectly placed to define mobile-redemption technology standardisation amongst offline retailers at point of sale in the UK. Weve will need to sign retailers up to their standard methodology to make this a reality, but this process is already underway and with over 80% of UK mobile users, Weve has the clout to make it happen.
  • Search becomes richer but more fractured Nowadays we don’t just use search functions when we are on dedicated search engines. Increasingly our search activity actually takes place across a wide range of dedicated apps and platforms like Youtube, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Spotify, etc. In Google’s mission to "organise the world’s information" they will therefore need to develop commercial agreements with platforms not owned by Google in order to supplement their organic dataset, or just build their own versions of platforms which their spiders cannot access (eg, Google+). However, in 2013 Google will undoubtedly get even better at predicting what we are looking for rather than waiting for us to tell it exactly what we want. Through understanding ‘things’ rather than keywords, and by taking more signals from the context in which the user is conducting the search (eg, their location), Google is increasingly able to understand the intent behind a search. If you’re looking for Taj Mahal, Google will know if you’re looking for the monument, the band or your local curry house. To put this in context, Google currently has about 500m ‘things’ in its Knowledge Graph compared with Wikipedia’s 4m entries. In order to navigate this increasingly complex landscape, search strategies need to be integrated with other marketing activity and need to be continually optimised for Google’s increasingly rich semantic search.
  • Social marketing will continue to evolve from being mainly used for retention purposes (ie, CRM with existing fans/customers) into a more effective acquisition channel where existing fans/customers are leveraged to acquire new customers via social referral. The big social platforms will evolve their evaluation services as brands start to demand more evidence of social marketing success (see point six).
  • Scarcity tactics in social marketing will become more important as brands start to come to terms with the declining visibility of organic/earned content in social networks. By developing promotions which create artificial scarcity around exclusive products, content or events, brands can fight the declining visibility in social networks by maximising their chance of generating viral spread.
  • 4G + more ubiquitous WiFi = better opportunities for geolocation marketing  All the main mobile operators will offer 4G by the end of 2013, and meanwhile we will see more WiFi networks launched throughout the transport ecosystem (cabs, buses, planes). For those mobile consumers who want to be constantly connected at high bandwidths, 2013 will be the year their wish is fulfilled. For marketers this means that geolocation strategies will become more viable, but we will need to develop a better understanding of the context in which geolocation mobile marketing is delivered.
  • Augmented reality will become ‘visual recognition’, will turn main-stream, and will start to deliver the promise that QR codes never quite delivered. Blippar reached 1.5m users by the end of 2012, while Aurasma forged a huge AR deal with Telefonica to integrate their technology into the mobile operator’s services with the ultimate vision of building AR tech into physical handsets. Marketing calls-to-action using AR on print and out-of-home will become more prevalent but expect consumers to become disillusioned if brands are not offering an obvious value exchange. Meanwhile, NFC will still not become a widely used interaction or payment system in 2013.
  • Online campaign ratings will become a more widespread currency in 2013 as marketers look to get a better understanding of whether their online ad campaigns are actually delivering against the planned audiences. Nielsen’s ‘online campaign ratings’ service launched in the UK towards the end of last year and has been used by Mindshare brands to demonstrate that audiences promised by media owners are not always delivered as fully expected. This will lead to more sophisticated planning of online campaigns, ultimately creating a better case for online to be used as a driver of audience reach and scale.
  • Affiliate marketing will receive a boost in 2013 thanks to three developments Firstly, Google’s own affiliate network, which launched in the UK nine months ago, should become more powerful in 2013 after a surprisingly slow start. Secondly, we can expect to see affiliate marketing’s cost-per-acquisition (CPA) model used in new areas. Expect social to be the main area where CPA trading makes a novel appearance, as fans become affiliates, and interest-graph networks like Pinterest look to monetise their businesses. Finally, Q1 will see the publication of the PwC/IAB Performance Marketing study which will, for the first time, put a real figure on the value of performance marketing (affiliate & lead gen) in the UK. The release of this study will lead to increased understanding and investment in affiliate marketing from marketers.
  • Transmedia storytelling looks set to be a big buzzword for 2013 as TV production companies and advertisers alike start to experiment more confidently with  the creative possibilities afforded to them by multi-screen connected living rooms. Expect to see more examples of TV programmes where the viewer can interact with and even influence the outcome of the narrative via the second screen. Million Pound Drop Live was the first TV show to really do this in the UK, but we also saw an interesting interweaving of storytelling across TV and mobile from ITV in 2012 with their new teen drama Switch. Meanwhile, brands like Mercedes with their #YouDrive campaign have attempted to involve viewers in multi-screen narratives, but with limited success. Expect to see some more successful examples however in 2013 - especially those using audio-recognition based tactics to synchronise content on the 2nd screen with content on the 1st screen (eg, Shazam).
  • Nick Adams, Jenny Kirby, Jeremy Pounder, James Chandler, Richard Rowley, DuBose Cole, Paul Armstrong, Tim Mitchell, Richard Lane, Colin Schabort.

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