Key digital trends – 2013

Lara O’Reilly gazes through her crystal ball to predict the digital trends that will envelope the industry next year.

Lara O'Reilly

Mobile advertising to become beautiful

Microsoft’s Windows 8 set out its stall to advertisers and the rest of the display industry when it launched this year, by bidding to “reinvent digital ads”. Its vision is to set the standard for digital and mobile advertising by making ads more relevant and less intrusive to consumers.

This will become ever more prevalent in mobile next year as smartphone penetration will only increase from its current 58 per cent in the UK and consumers will demand more from brands looking to target them on their very personal devices.

Rather than simply barking messages via ugly banner ads, mobile advertising is set to become far more beautiful in 2013, with advertisers venturing into brand ads rather than just direct response.

Single customer view analytics

Targeting consumers is set to become a lot more sophisticated in 2013 as marketers will have access to more data about how customers engage with their – and their rival’s – content and products across the web, from shopping pages to social media sites.

There was a slew of niche data company acquisitions this year as the big analytics players – such as Adobe, Salesforce and IBM – look to provide their customers with a more holistic view of their customers and potential customers on one single dashboard.

According to Experian research from April this year, just 16 per cent of businesses believe they have an effective single customer view system in place, but this is set to increase as their service providers make it even easier to capture data from across the web and different devices and present that back as useful data.

Apple will near crunch time


Samsung is fast gaining ground on Apple’s domination in the UK smartphone market, thanks to the tremendous success of its recent Galaxy range of devices. Apple has a 28 per cent share of the market, while Samsung has 24 per cent, according to comScore data for the three months to October 2012.

Whether just by coincidence or not, Apple’s recent product announcements have been decidedly lacklustre since the passing of its founder in 2011.

Apple has been criticised in some camps for simply releasing slight iterations to existing products rather than true groundbreakers like the original versions – and its recent Maps blunder didn’t help matters either. While sales are still strong, unabated love for Apple products appears to be waning as rival Microsoft grows out its Windows 8 handset range and Google continues to provide value for money options.

Analysts and commentators are expecting Apple to launch a new TV product next year – touted to be either an update to its set-top box or a full TV set – could propel Apple back to its gamechanger status but it will need to be marketed in a way that positions the brand as reinventing another vertical to do so.

Gamification comes out to play

Research firm M2 predicts companies will spend more than $2.8bn on gamification methods in 2016, up from $100m in 2010.

Regardless of industry focus, from the most seemingly dry sectors through to consumer goods companies, more brands will be looking to take inspiration from the video games sector to boost user engagement and brand loyalty.


Nike+ has set itself out as the benchmark to which brands should aspire to in the gamification space but even brands without the manpower and digital budget will look to embed gaming into their processes such as online form filling and collecting loyalty points more fun and a value-add for consumers.

Consumer control

This year we saw many instances when people power swayed brands to change the way they operated or apologise for their actions – such as Starbucks’ u-turn on its tax filings or Adidas’ apology for its ridiculous “Shackle” trainers.

Consumers are slowly starting to realise the power they wield on social media – especially if they happen to have a large follower base.

On Twitter, 30 per cent of customers expect an answer within 30 minutes and 29 per cent expect an answer in under two hours on Facebook, according to Conversocial. The coming year is likely to see further reorganisation of customer service teams to meet the increasing demand they are faced with on social media.

Services such as Peer Perks and Tic Trac popped up last year, which offers influential social media users free goodies from brands looking for popular folk to try out their wares and hopefully share their experiences with friends.

Consumers are set to become ever more savvy about how their behavioural data can be used for targeted brand advertising and will tailor the interests they pupport to like on their social media profiles in order to be served with the most relevant advertising in exchange for continuing to use the services for free.



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