Top 12 Online Trends Emerging in 2014

2014, till May has seen some interesting shifts in digital and social media marketing industry. Be it native advertising or brands acting as producers – going beyond the publisher mentality and setting up newsrooms and production studios. Netflix (“House of Cards”), Red Bull (Media House) and Amazon (Alpha House), or content marketing suddenly emerging as a cost effective and an impactful way to reach current & new customers long-term in a sustainable way.

2014 will be a year of advocacy and several trends and technologies will reach maturity in 2014 spawning considerable disruption. Here is my review and thoughts of some of the emerging trends and developments that are shaping up the future of digital marketing.

1. Integrated Marketing i.e. One Communication across ATL, BTL, Digital, Social

IntegratedMarketing-smallGone are the days when main line communication was used as a reference and in parallel a digital or social campaign was implemented.

In the recent times, some of the top traditional advertising companies have started acquiring digital and social agencies across major markets or have started building up their in-house competencies e.g. TBWA, Samsung-Cheil, Publicis Groupe, and WPP etc. Simultaneously, platforms are being developed that are assisting marketing professionals to market, manage and monitor multiple social networks and even other digital marketing (e.g. email) and that too closely integrated with the main line communication.

The Holy Grail to have one integrated approach enabled by a tool to manage your marketing is the mission for many software companies who see this opportunity.

2. Personalization, Experiential and Gamification of Mobile Marketing

Mobile E-CommerceMobile Marketing is about making the smartphone experience with your brand as Simple, Fun and Entertaining as possible.

More and more an important part of mobile marketing will be the personalization, experiential and gamification of content. They are three areas that will really develop in 2014. Mobile marketing is so much still in its infancy. The opportunities around this space are amazing. In fact, the results of a study conducted in 2013 indicate that almost 40 percent of time spent online is through some type of mobile device.

Experts predict that mobile usage will in increase in 2014. This year, when selecting your digital platforms and marketing solutions, invest in those that are mobile friendly, responsive and adaptive.

3. The Rise and Rise of Content Marketing

Content MarketingContent marketing has been around for a while now but 2014 is the year it will truly be understood with more companies using it as a core part of their marketing strategy.

Companies will gradually get that they need to think of content that their customers will enjoy, that will entertain and educate them. They need to put the customer at the heart of their communications, not their company line. More companies will see content marketing as “attracting customers through the telling of stories”.

Companies will increasingly see they need to become publishers – harnessing a range of on-line platforms to truly get their story out there.

4. Social media to become a Pay-to-Play Channel

Facebook-pay-to-play1Facebook has changed its news feed algorithm which resulted in the decline of the organic reach. Twitter is a public company that must drive revenues.

Google Plus has introduced ads. In 2014, we will see increased pressures on companies of all sizes to pay to sponsor their posts to get more visibility, as getting consumers’ attention in social media becomes increasingly difficult.

This will be hardest on small businesses, who obviously have fewer resources than big brands. Social media will increasingly become a pay-to-play channel.

5. The Rise of the Social Boomer

Social BoomerThe age 55+ demographic is becoming the fastest growing group of social media users. Two dynamics are likely at play here: (1) other demographic groups have already adopted social computing in large numbers, and (2) baby boomers have become convinced of the value of social media and are ready to climb on board.

Brands would be wise to take notice of this trend, as the boomers’ increasing online presence will open up many new marketing opportunities, especially as this demographic group continues to move into its retirement years.

6. Integration of Predictive Marketing Tools with Social Analytics

predictive-marketingThe most successful social media marketers of 2014 will have a crystal ball, known as a predictive analytics tool.

Rather than analyze data from the past, these technologies will analyze your social analytics data and use data mining, modeling and statistics to predict future performance. Check out Trendspottr and Bottlenose for the shape of things to come.

7. 3-D Printing

3d-printerThe growth of 3-D printers is projected to be 75 percent in the coming year, and 200 percent in 2015. Gartner suggests “the consumer market hype has made organizations aware of the fact 3-D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.”

8. Parallax / Responsive Websites

parallax websiteA perfect storm has been brewing in digital. In recent years, HTML5, device proliferation and high speed Internet have become ubiquitous. At the same time apps have changed consumer expectations from a digital experience. Marketers, meanwhile, are starting to broadly recognize engagement as a primary KPI in digital. The resulting trend is a convergence of the disciplines of UX and brand storytelling.

UX design can do more than adapt to behavior, it can shape it. With the popularity of HTML5 and CSS3 increasing with every release of new browsers, we are starting to see parallax elements more and more on websites. Parallax can be as simple as moving your background images at a different rate to elements placed on top of it, to fully scrolling sites that animate as the user scrolls. It’s here to stay, and it’s here to make your website pop and look cutting edge.

9. 57% of Marketers Use Social Advertising

Social AdvertisingThe lure of social advertising is fascinating. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others are daily destinations for millions of U.S. consumers who spend an average of 37 minutes per day on those channels.

No wonder 57% of marketers used social ads in 2013 and another 23% are expected to start using ads in 2014.

But again, only 23% of digital marketers find their social advertising efforts effective.

10. People-Based Research Makes A Comeback

People researchMarketers are addressing big data overload by seeking more human insights. It used to be called “ethnographic” research.

Now it’s “qualitative” research—asking people what they think of products and services. Expect to see marketers invest in research that brings texture to big data next year, said Barbara Apple Sullivan, managing partner at agency Sullivan.

“Yes, analytics are great for providing a screenshot and narrowing a business’ audience—but the truth is, as more and more organizations are realizing, they paint an incomplete picture,” she told CMO.com.

“In 2014, we’ll look for companies to strengthen this marriage by digging back into the gritty interviews and fieldwork that, while time-consuming, provide essential insights.”

11. Crowdsourcing Everything

CROWDSOURCEIf collaboration in-house was the trend for 2013, in 2014 collaboration will go outside of the organization. Whether it’s through partnerships with publishers or a surge of user-generated content, marketers will be surrendering even more control over their brand messages. New social media developments—such as new privacy policies at Google and Facebook, and the rise of ratings, such as Klout, which add value to the connections and likes online—are driving a new appreciation of human recommendations.

“The question ‘who I am,’ ‘what I like,’ and ‘what I think’ will have increasing value, said Fritz Desir, SVP of experience planning at agency RAPP. “Data will be increasingly recognized for what it is: currency.” As consumers begin to realize the full value of their personal data and resenting its use by social networks and brands, marketers will have to react, he told CMO.com. “Smart marketers will get in front of this by providing opportunities for co-creation, catching people doing [a brand] good, creating brand advisory boards, and facilitating people to tell stories,” Desir said.

12. Online Video Advertising on the Rise

comscore-online-video-growthOne reason marketers are putting so much effort into platforms like YouTube and Vimeo is the continued rise of advertising in online video content, leading to reliable monetization for video producers and greater exposure for brands.

Pre-video ads are becoming more common and longer in length, with 30-second ads becoming much more common than they were just a year ago.

More than 50 percent of all online traffic is now video-based, and your potential customers are embracing it with open arms.

Because more people prefer mobile devices for browsing video and other media, look for reliable mobile advertising services to increase brand exposure in 2014.

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