By Nishma Robb, chief client officer at global digital marketing agency iProspect
Taking a glance back at 2012 it occurs to me that it was a pretty momentous year with some outstanding creativity and innovation; some major winners and also some losers. A number of brands stand out for the way in which they have embraced digital and integrated it seamlessly within their marketing strategies – brands such as Norwegian Cruise Lines and Airbnb.com are leading the way and reaping the rewards.
Some significant milestones have been reached this year – in May, Facebook went public and despite concerns that its shares were overpriced it has continued to grow its user base and now connects about 1/7th of the world’s population. The fact that over 40% of its active users are using the platform through mobile devices demonstrates where Facebook will be focusing its monetisation strategy in 2013 and also how users will interact with web apps in the future.
Over the last 18 months we’ve seen the goalposts move for search as the focus has shifted away from on-page SEO tactics towards the need to produce high quality content that gets shared through social channels. Social, content and SEO will start to be seen as one rather than segmented practices and brands and agencies alike will have to become more joined up in how they plan and execute their marketing and communications programs.
The Pinterest-like site Trippy has expanded its brand links this year, demonstrating the attraction of a social media travel planning platform. These brands are not merely using the site as another online brochure. They have recognised the opportunities to create a sense of community with boards and shared content that interacts with and inspires the sites users. Pinterest itself continues to attract users with travel lending itself to the visual media of sharing travel dreams and realities.
Forecasting ahead, 2013 is going to be about:
1. Even more mobile. With the cost of a smartphone now averaging less than £100, and the Christmas rush to buy the new cheaper tablets and ‘phablets’, 2013 is going to see a huge expansion in the ownership of mobile devices and therefore the importance they play as one of the channels in the developing multichannel purchasing process. Travel brands without a defined multi-channel, multi-device strategy will see their competitors succeed. Up to 40% of last minute search queries were made on mobile devices in 2012; this figure is definitely set to rise in 2013.
2. Search and social optimisation. Google is likely to have a big focus on qualifying the ‘value’ of authors and thereby the content they produce. They will look to use (among others) Google+ to help qualify this ‘value’. So rather than thinking in terms of the value of the site/page the content is hosted on, the real value will be on who has written it – working with expert bloggers and travel writers offering unique content will improve your search rankings.
3. Social and TV. We will continue to see well-planned advertising campaigns that use social as an extension to TV and exploit the growing trend of ‘media stacking’ (multi-screen) in the home. Brands can make their spend go further by moving viewers to social media channels during and after TV shows or adverts to enhance and continue the user experience. TV viewing figures are still growing and the experience will continue to be augmented online. Zeebox will be the app of the choice.
4. Big Data. With the vast amount of data now available it is easy to lose sight of the objective. This is going to be the Year of Big Data – and being less wrong. We are going to see a lot of marketers trying to get to grips with the potential offered by Big Data. The key will be about keeping the focus on what we are actually about – the customer.
5. Twitter crashes. Sometime in August or September when the Royal baby has arrived the frenzy will crash the social media site!
6. The year of Me. The customer of 2013 and beyond has high expectations of personalisation. We don’t want to be targeted with random content, we want sites that are easy to navigate, optimised for different devices and personalised for us individually. You can expect your customers to demand more in 2013.