3 trends in digital that will rock 2012

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It is the end of what has been a remarkable year for the digital and mobile sectors. But rather than dwell on moments like RIM’s fall from grace, HP dumping its hardware division (and then, um, deciding not to), the death of marketing “iconoclast” Steve Jobs and Facebook’s quest for world domination, Marketing Week is gazing into its crystal ball to predict what will send technological tremors through the marketing world in 2012.

Google+

There is no doubt Facebook will continue to dominate social media, with the site likely to reach the landmark 1 billion user figure before the year is out.

However, the latest in its long line of design upgrades – Timeline – is unlikely to sit comfortably with all of its users. Timeline began to roll out to users earlier this month and has already attracted criticism for being too much of a faff to edit and exposing those embarrassing uni photos. Could this be one change too far?

While it’s unlikely there will be a mass exodus away from Facebook, Google+ may benefit from the disgruntled users that still want to be active on a social media platform they are comfortable with.

Up until only recently, Google+ was just ticking along quietly in Beta mode, slowly gathering users but not doing a lot more than simply existing. It is unlikely Google’s 30,000 staff have been quite as stationary behind the scenes.

Google+ has already launched official pages for brands and it is likely to roll out further features that can integrate with its strong range of products – like it has already done with Gmail and search – in the coming months. Integration with products like Chrome, Maps and Android could give Google+ the edge – or at least a point of difference – against its social media rivals.

Just as it is so important for brands to be visible on Apple’s platforms, next year marketers would be wise to ensure they are part of every feature of Google’s increasingly walled garden too.

The mobile wallet

BlackBerry’s EMEA director of enterprise marketing Tim Hodkinson told Marketing Week earlier this month that “2012 will be the year of NFC”, the contactless technology that allows users to pay for goods and receive and swap content with their mobiles. Indeed, almost ever BlackBerry device launched next year will have NFC technology built in as standard, with many other manufacturers such as Samsung and Nokia following suit.

On the operator side, O2, Vodafone and Everything Everywhere have formed a joint venture to create a standardised platform for NFC payment and related brand marketing. The three are also now thought to be close to launching the JV and are reportedly ready to submit their proposal for clearance to the European regulators next month, they are searching for a CEO for the venture and are even welcoming Three into the equation.

Beyond the JV, brands like Starbucks, Google and Simply Tap have also launched their own payment systems to reduce the need for customers to root around in their pockets for loose change ever again.

Forrester Research predicts that mobile commerce will reach $31bn globally by 2016, but this forecast will be dramatically expanded if the mobile manufacturers, operators and payment providers manage to keep true to their promises and build a standardised platform for the mobile wallet next year.

Mass adoption of the mobile wallet offers brands the chance to be right at the heart of consumers’ purchase decisions, whether it be through loyalty schemes, price comparison services or display ads that can be tailored to users’ shopping habits.

There are more than 50,000 swipe and pay terminals already installed in the UK, 2012 may well be the year these tills actually start ringing (metaphorically of course).

Smart TV

Around 15% of consumers say they will own a smart TV within the next 12 months, with 1 in 10 people already having one of the devices in their living rooms, according to YouGov.

Sales of the devices are set to surge from April onwards, due to the digital switchover, London Olympics and Euro 2012. Apple is also rumoured to be launching its own smart TV device in the latter half of the year, which will only add to the hunger for TVs with added internet capabilities.

While research in October from from Internet Advertising Bureau and multichannel video agency Adjust Your Set found that fewer than one in 10 marketers have a smart TV strategy, the opportunities for immersive advertising on the platform are immense.

Brands can create their own apps and appear on homescreens, tailoring their messaging to the type of content consumers are watching.

Dan Brilot, media consulting director at YouGov, says that integrating social with TV could become next year’s “killer app”.

“This next evolution of our TV sets is enabling viewers to share and comment on media content using Facebook and Twitter, or even to set up ‘virtual living rooms’ where programmes are watched at the same time between friends but at different locations with social networks enabling the sharing of the viewing experience,” he adds.

There are so many exciting technological developments and launches from brands that our “top three for 2012” could well have been a top 300. Are there any burning issues, groundbreaking trends or exciting brand news you feel we’ve missed out? Let us know.

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Have you delivered an innovative and effective digital strategy this year?Then enter the digital category in the Marketing Week Engage Awards 2012 by clicking here.

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