2014 Digital Trends

Every year we also like to test our ability to predict the expected digital trends across our industry. As an agency that prides itself on being at the forefront of all aspects of online, we have prepared our thoughts on how we anticipate the digital landscape will evolve throughout 2014.
We have been avidly reviewing predictions and the opinions of industry experts, insight aggregators and digital companies whilst analysing statistics and trends from the fascinating year of change and development that was 2013.
Interestingly, our work and services over the past 12 month for clients reflected the greatest areas of growth in digital marketing investment and interest throughout the year:
• Content marketing
• Mobile marketing
• Micro-targeting through ad networks
• CRO (conversion rate optimization)
Below we have summarised key areas within the digital spectrum and outlined specific aspects we feel will have significance in 2014.
Online advertising became a lot more consumer orientated and targeted in 2013, and although many of the promotional media utilised by marketers differed very little year on year, platforms became much more intelligent and advanced.
We are expecting to see these improvements continue across social media ad platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, the latter of which recently opened its ad offering to self-serve customers with lower budgets. Pinterest and Instagram are running BETA tests on new advertising models which we anticipate will have an impact in 2014. Initially these are likely to be offered to bigger brands but we would expect a more cost effective, accessible and open platform for each by the end of 2014. Visual media will continue to have an increasingly greater impact in digital marketing in 2014 and having the ability to actively promote via advertising means to gain further exposure will appeal to a wide range of industries and markets.
Targeting capabilities are likely to get more advanced, with additional options via remarketing. A good example is Analytics remarketing, which enables users to proactively retarget based on metrics within the system, such as time on site, pages per visit and the customer journey throughout the cart.
Demographic targeting is also becoming more focused, allowing advertisers to reach precise audiences based on a plethora of new refining categories, beyond simply age and gender, and this is set to continue throughout 2014.
Micro-targeted campaigns will be of importance in the forthcoming year as brands seek to reach users with the most appropriate message or product at the most relevant time. This will be achieved using demographic and geographical means and overlayed with other new determining factors as wide spread as the weather through to recent online behaviour.
We are also anticipating mobile marketing campaigns to become much more advanced and creative in 2014.
It was always predicted that 2013 would be ‘the year of mobile’ but many believe this wasn’t the case. I would argue that it was indeed the year of mobile, just not for digital marketers.
Last year’s shift was predicted, but trends and devices altered so much that advertising platforms didn’t deliver anything radical or unseen before but rather, played it safe with extensions of existing offerings. Google Adwords and the release of ‘enhanced’ is a good example of this. The mobile search and display offering has undoubtedly improved but it hasn’t been revolutionised.
Advertisers now understand that we live in a multi-screen world in which most people have more than one device that can access the internet. This awareness means that in 2014 more than ever, mobile has to be considered in every campaign and strategy.
As advertisers spent 2013 collecting data and evaluating the value of mobile, we expect to see results measured more closely against ROI in the year ahead. Mobile conversion rate optimisation will be more critical as spends across this medium increase significantly to reflect time and activity spent on such devices.
We would also forecast a growth in the more intelligent geo-targeting options via mobile such as GPS.
Web design
Web design has advanced significantly in the last 12 months, as has the way websites are built and developed. There is a consistent trend in growth of usage of more open-source, cloud based solutions.
As mobile has a much stronger bearing on website traffic, responsive solutions are being used to ensure a positive user experience across a multitude of devices.
A year ago we were working on more mobile specific websites but the advent and growth of mid-size devices such as the Kindle and iPad mini in 2013 has required marketers to readdress how their website renders across a wider range of devices. By the end of 2014 it will no longer be acceptable to have a desktop only website.
Website design will also become more evolutionary in 2014 as brands appreciate that a website overhaul and redesign once every 3-5 years no longer enables them to keep up with trends in technology and functionality. A greater understanding of this will lead to a ‘little and often’ approach, with constant updates to online presences to keep at the forefront of the digital industry and to coincide with user expectations.
Another area of growth we anticipate is in more visual media. Both Pinterest and Instagram have expanded rapidly over the past year and photo and image sharing is at an all time high. The coinciding release of advertising platforms on such networks should only help propel this increase throughout 2014.
Similarly, as video advertising across YouTube and the GDN becomes more targeted and as platforms offer more ROI led bidding opportunities, it is likely that this medium will be of increasing importance to advertisers. No longer will video be the exclusive playing ground of large corporate blanket campaigns from big brands. Advertisers will have the ability to more effectively target precise demographics with even more relevant and specific video content cost-efficiently.
Finally, over the past 12 months we have seen users adopting multiple social networks to service specific requirements. The diversification of social networking and the usage of smaller single-purpose social and sharing sites will continue to grow as users break away from just Facebook and Twitter.
Overall, we see 2014 as a year in which content marketing in various formats will play a key role. Usage of mobile devices and internet on the go will rise, as will expectations from users for brands to provide an all encompassing, consistent user experience across all media types. We expect marketers to use a wider range of more dynamic, engaging media and platforms to cost effectively reach users with more precise micro-targeted campaigns.

Written by Sam Gadsby


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