2012 will be a year to forget for most advertising professionals. Business was not something that you would write home about. But I do see an upswing in the new year (if the last few months are anything to go by)... well at least in the digital space.
The future is bright and you will definitely need shades.
As always I have my list of 10 trends that promises to change digital marketing and pave the way for the future. Digital marketing is changing and you will soon realize that the lines between different mediums of communication are so blurred that debates on whether a piece of work is submitted in the correct category will be more than ever at jury meets. So without much ado let’s get to the trends...
1. Branded Content
A few brands have tried their hand at this form of advertising but none have managed to get the formula just right. The fact is that this format is now recognised by the leading advertising forums by adding a category of branded content in their awards. One advice I can give you whilst creating branded content - never blatantly push the brand forward in this communication. The brand should be a seamless part of the communication. As far as I can remember, BMW films were one of the first to leverage this form of advertising and that to me is the perfect example of branded content. With social media now in the mix, one can look at the Old Spice response campaign as a good example of engagement in branded content.
2. Listen and Learn
The digital medium being a quantifiable medium, I believe one of its greatest strengths is the data we receive through engagement with the customer. We have been predominantly reactive in our engagement with the customer and moving forward listening will play a very big role. New CRM tools and tools that can decipher statistical data will thrive. These tools too will continue to evolve just like we evolve in our communication with the consumer.
3. Augmented Reality
One of the few innovations that will blur the boundaries of advertising mediums. The surge of augmented reality activations really started post a few brands tasting success in the space. Though augmented reality in India has a long way to go in comparison to the West, I truly believe that with more brands opting for this means of communication we will see swift developments in this space. Augmented reality gives a new spin to advertising through word of mouth.
In the past few months we have seen that the access to the internet via a mobile device has surpassed the desktop. This means that your brand now has to be present in some form across mobile devices too. Worldwide smartphone shipments continue to soar, with a 42 per cent year-on-year growth and tablets have grown 49.5 per cent in 2012. It is estimated that one in three computers shipped by 2015 will be a tablet. This will give rise to a lot of branded apps as android apps (more than iOS) will pave the way for a thriving app economy.
5. Location is the new Context
A number of trends like augmented reality and mobility point naturally towards localised targeting. We have seen a number of sites deploy localised content (like Google). Geofencing presents huge targeting opportunities. Because of the access to the internet via the mobile device on the upswing, a brand can determine the user’s location and can accordingly use that to its advantage. Location-based applications will be a rage in the app marketplace. Promotions through location detection will be the next big wave.
6. Less Social, More Personal
The true power of social media lies beneath the surface. We’re experiencing a ripple effect as conversations progress to many niche communities. Users will move to more personal and relevant communities (Path, Instagram, Pinterest). Communication will evolve from more generic to a lot more personal. Again this trend will be aided by another trend of listening and learning which will enable us to converse personally rather than to the complete universe.
7. Responsive Design
With mobility on the rise, it will be imperative for your brand to have a standard look across mediums to as to be easily recognizable and compatible. This will give rise to technologies like HTML5 to enable that uniformity due to the dynamic nature of the code. Whilst some of the brands in India have already deployed responsive designs for their brand presence in the digital space, a lot have yet to follow the same.
8. Sensory Tech Boom
Sensors are now present everywhere. I believe Nike was one of the first major brands to realize this opportunity by creating devices that mesh well with the brand (Nike Fuelband). With the technology is available to them, most consumer will become self-trackers. Open APIs will present many opportunities. Technology mashups are now prevalent in most digital activations.
e-commerce is a reality. India has made a huge leap in the last year in e-commerce. App stores record figures over 10 billion downloads. Subscriptions (be it music or magazines/newspapers) along with e-books are on the rise. Customisation in e-commerce will be the next big change.
10. Integrated Advertising
The trends mentioned are all leading to this. The lines of communication are blurred. Brands will need integrated communication as their target audience will be present across media. All mediums will need to talk to each other seamlessly. Traditional media will prompt engagements enabled through technology. The digital medium will become instrumental in data mining. I would not be surprised if you see traditional media used for amplification purposes and the digital media being the centre of communication.
So there you have it. The 10 trends that I personally believe will change the Indian digital landscape. Brand custodians have woken up the digital revolution; they will in turn spend a lot more on the space which will spark a lot of innovation in the next couple of years, and put India on the digital creativity map.
Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a new year filled with award-winning ideas.
Carlton D’Silva is the creative director at Hungama Digital Media and has spent over 16 years in the digital space. He takes insult when you call the digital medium new media…16 years should be old enough! Find him on twitter@TheWordOfGawd