Additional exclusive web-only editorial below
Words: John Manning
Data will be the driving force behind digital change in 2013 – whether it’s newly empowered consumers trading personal data with the highest brand bidder, or overenthusiastic social media fiends sharing too much information online. And as the number of digital assets continues to grow over the next 12 months, so will the importance of the cloud – but will consumer confidence hold out?
TM asked five top trendspotters to predict how the digital world will develop in the year ahead.
Access v ownership
William Higham, consumer strategist and founder, The Next Big Thing
2013 will be all about access and immediacy. As cloud computing and smartphones let us stream and remotely access our entertainment, we’ll start seeing a shift from ownership to access, with more of us selling off our CDs, DVDs and even books, now that we can store entire libraries on our e-readers.
We’ll increasingly keep our shelves free for “meaningful” products – mementos from holidays or the past, gifts from friends or godchildren – or more beautiful entertainment products, from coffee table books to limited edition vinyl. And rental will rocket, from homes to handbags.
Meanwhile, as faster technologies combine with our growing desire for the new and unique, we’ll demand not just access, but immediate access. We’ll want to use our favourite services 24 hours a day, get speedy updates to our e-books and avoid brands that aren’t there 24-seven.
We’ll get our biggest buzz by experiencing things as they happen, in real time. This will accelerate the “play and display” trend: impressing our social media friends by telling them what we’re doing as we’re doing it, with the most unusual or exclusive events granting us the greatest social status. As our social diaries become more important, fear of missing out will add to our techno-stress: so this time next year we may well need a digital detox.
Jonathan Brigden, managing director, Knifedge
We are now moving beyond the early adopters of augmented reality and consumers are becoming familiar with what the technology can do. Moving forward, consumers will engage with augmented reality in a much more interactive way and the possibilities for augmented gaming are endless.
In November, Google launched Project Glass – basically augmented reality specs – which should be available in 2014. Will people adopt this as a new way of viewing the world, or will it be the next 3D TV #epicfail? For astonishing gaming technology, check out Oculus Rift. Although still under development, early indications reveal that as soon as it becomes available gamers will snap it up as the next big thing.
The possibilities for FMCG marketers will be endless. For example, we have created a proof of concept for a game that could appear on your cereal box, using brand characters and new levels each week. For the latest in the use of AR gaming, have a look at Ingress, Google's new game (closed beta at the moment). The imaginative marketer can already see the enormous potential of this technology and how it could work for marketing brands, providing high impact, direct engagement with consumers.
Is oversharing really caring?
Marian Salzman, chief executive, Havas PR and author of Next Now: Trends for the Future
Turns out people are more likely to share information that makes them feel awe, anger or anxiety – the very sort of information the sharer’s partner might not want them to disclose. And with online oversharing on the rise for 2013 and beyond, “too much information” is inspiring sparring matches between more than a few couples.
There are apparently even more people horrified by how much others overshare than there are victims of oversharing. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, Instagram and the rest, our lives have become one giant blob of “too much information”.
But oversharing isn’t always bad; a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research found that of the estimated 100 million Americans living with chronic pain, those patients who blog about their illness – and share it with friends and family – feel less isolated and more useful. For some people, it could be “too much information”, for others it’s a creative and compelling way to tell stories. So expect to feel drowned in other people’s info in 2013.
In the grand stream of things
Marian Salzman, chief executive, Havas PR and author of Next Now: Trends for the Future
Netflix’s video streaming service hit a milestone this year, surpassing 1bn hours of streaming. Although Netflix users report relatively low customer satisfaction, and its stock plunged again in October (but rose sharply days later, when a rumour surfaced that Microsoft might buy it), the service can now claim several million more subscribers than top cable provider Comcast Corp.
Streaming TV’s sudden popularity brings with it new concerns. Live TV streaming now represents the fastest-growing online piracy segment. In regards to ratings, streaming services can be a boon (for a series like Mad Men, which enjoyed a 21 per cent ratings hike this year after its long hiatus) or a bummer (Nickelodeon’s double-digit ratings drop has been attributed almost entirely to on-demand viewing). One thing on which there’s no debate is that streaming TV is here to stay. Look for original programming to propel Netflix this year when it revives cult favourite Arrested Development and original drama House of Cards with Kevin Spacey.
The personal information economy
Peter Firth, journalist at LS:N Global, The Future Laboratory
If you have ever been online and told a company your age, where you live or what you think of its product, you are part of a new interplay emerging between brands and consumers.
At LS:N Global, we call this new trade‑off the personal information economy. In this new landscape, a company’s value isn’t based just on what it owns, or how much its stock is worth, but on how much it knows.
This shift is made possible by the profusion of data that people now generate in their day-to-day lives. Smart brands are beginning to understand what this data is worth, and rewarding customers for sharing their information online. Customers, on the other hand, are demanding better services, discounts or greater access in exchange for surrendering their personal data. This new power play is going to permanently alter relationships between brands and people.
People are already waking up to how much of their personal data is online and how it’s used. Brands that offer transparency and better experiences to customers in exchange for their personal information will thrive in the personal information economy.
Video advertising Gustav Mellentin, chief executive, Adform
In 2013, digital advertisers will endeavour to ensure communications are even more timely, personalised and engaging by moving away from standard banner formats to create more interesting and interactive content for consumers.
The high performance of online video advertising has been predicted for some time and our data shows that video is quickly emerging as a favourite format. Our media barometer of Q2 to Q3 in 2012, which analysed over 140bn ad impressions across Europe found that the time spent by consumers watching online video ads had rocketed – with an increase of 56 per cent between Q2 and Q3. This number is only set to climb, especially with more websites being optimised for mobile and more premium inventory being made available in 2013.
Get out of my cloud
Andrew Crosthwaite, founding partner, Futures House
With my back-up hard drive becoming alarmingly full, I weighed up the options of buying another drive or becoming a cloud customer. I chose the latter.
I have no idea where the data is stored. It could be in Fort Knox or on a trading estate in Slough. Despite reassurances of double encryption, I haven’t a clue about who in the company can access my data, or what scrutiny they are under from the day they are hired to (maybe) fired. And as IT experts shake their heads sadly, I doubt if I am atypical of many small businesses.
Any security organisation is only as reliable as the guard it hires – who may be dozing on duty or even being willfully negligent, as the dismissal last November of police officers for playing poker when they should have been patrolling the streets illustrates.
Dropbox recently admitted that passwords and data from some user accounts had been compromised. And I suspect this type of event happens with greater frequency than anyone admits. Does G4S tell all their customers every time a building they are guarding is broken into?
As cloud customers we relinquish control – it is instructive that financial and medical organisations are not permitted to use the cloud for storage. Likewise, Germany does not allow companies to store digital data outside the country.
The cloud is undoubtedly the future, but trust and security should be the battleground for cloud companies in 2013 – not how many gigabytes per dollar they can hold, that they offer 15 months for the price of 12 or provide extra space for liking them on Facebook or recommending a friend. Buyer beware.
Rob Valsler, head of the Media Practice, South East Asia, Millward Brown
Omnichannel marketing will be one of the key trends emerging across all sectors in 2013.
As developments in technology increase the potential for connectivity, omnichannel marketing will enable companies to hold meaningful ongoing dialogues with customers by “knitting” different conversations together into a coherent story.
It integrates all potential contact points, so marketers can capture and reference moments of engagement and build on them during subsequent interactions, instead of struggling to make sense of a number of disjointed strands of conversation.
This will move customer data from a passive pool of potential insights into an active mechanism for deepening the meaning behind each individual interaction.
Omnichannel marketing was a concept born in the retail sector, where the customer’s behavioural path is easily tracked across online, offline and mobile touch points.
The first widespread shift to an omnichannel mindset will most likely be seen in the digital arena as more companies start blending social and mobile data sources with offline brand experiences.