If you have been following our blog over the years, then you will know that my annual digital predictions posts have become somewhat of a Tamar tradition. And despite being very excited last year in advance of what indeed turned out to be an amazing 2012, 2013 is set to be a real game-changer. The advent of 4G and the continued explosion in the growth of mobile and social will be shaking up the gaming and technology landscapes like never before.
My 10 predictions for next year are as follows:
- “The Local Network” explodes
- Brands push video content in ad campaigns, thanks to 4G
- The battle for social gaming hots up
- Pinterest introduce eCommerce
- Apple get their groove back – unveil iPad 5
- Mobile changes the face of content: hello responsive web design
- Search’s Big Three in 2013 – semantic, co-citations & local.
- Seeing through rose-tinted glasses – the rise of AR.
- Facebook ‘do’ search at last.
- Big data gets its Steve Jobs
With more than 1 billion people actively using Facebook each month globally, people are starting to ask: what about my local community?
There are currently two major players who are focusing on building a local-social network, where emphasis is placed on empowering neighbourhoods as oppose to corporations – streetlife.com and nextdoor.com.
The latter describes itself as a “private social network for your neighbourhood” and has been recently valued at over $100m.
I predict that we will witness an uprising of “The Local Network”. This in turn will provide a level playing field for local businesses, which do not have big marketing budgets, to reach out to their local community.
Last month, Orange and T-Mobile’s parent company, Everything Everywhere, became the UK’s first carrier to offer “superfast 4G”. Meanwhile, across the pond, Pete Cashmore, the Founder of Mashable, revealed that 30% of his readership consume via a mobile device, which he predicts will increase to 50% in 2013
Indeed, mobile consumption is growing exponentially, which combined with improved data speeds, will force businesses to rework their advertising strategies in order to get the best possible ROI through this medium.
One of the benefits of improved data speeds is the ability to offer consumers “bufferless” streaming. As a result, I predict that we will see businesses pushing out more online video content as part of their advertising campaigns.
Rumours are rife that both Sony and Microsoft will unveil the next generation of their games consoles in 2013, which have been dubbed “Playstation 4” and “Xbox 720”, respectively.
Heeding the popularity of games such as FIFA 2013 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, which are renowned for their online playability, I predict that Sony and Microsoft’s rivalry will intensify further, even more so now that both companies will place greater emphasis on social gaming.
Having just launched 2 years ago, Pinterest, an image-centric, pinboard-style social network, has risen to prominence in a very short period of time.
On its website, Pinterest mention that they are currently funded by VCs and entrepreneurs. They then go onto say, “In the past, we’ve tested a few different approaches to making money such as affiliate links. We might also try adding advertisements, but we haven’t done this yet.”
With this in mind, I predict that in 2013, Pinterest will focus their efforts in shaping their existing platform into an eCommerce site, through which they will take a percentage of commission for each transaction.
Earlier this year, Apple unveiled two new editions of their popular tablet, the new iPad with Retina Display and iPad mini, both of which have attracted criticism for its innovation – or lack of it.
I predict that in 2013, Apple will unveil their 5th generation iPad, which will boast an A7 processor (TBA), as well as an 8MP camera and edge-to-edge Retina display. This should be enough to get Apple back ahead of the pack on the innovation front and the Apple fanboys amongst us can breathe a sigh of relief.
According to Antoine Leblond, Microsoft’s corporate Vice President for Windows Web Services, “Next year, tablets will outsell desktop PCs.”
As a result, mobile devices will not only alter the way in which we consume online content, but also how websites serve up their content.
Next year, webmasters will need to consider how their website is being viewed; a different device means a different screen resolution, which ultimately means different a different user-experience. This is where responsive web design (RWD) can help.
With responsive web design, web developers can code a websitecontent so that it responds and adapts to the specifications of the device it is being viewed from. This takes care of user access, whether it’s from a desktop, mobile or tablet.
Responsive web design is even advocated by Google:
Using responsive web design has multiple advantages, including:
- It keeps your desktop and mobile content on a single URL, which is easier for your users to interact with, share, and link to and for Google’s algorithms to assign the indexing properties to your content.
- Google can discover your content more efficiently as we wouldn’t need to crawl a page with the different Googlebot user agents to retrieve and index all the content.
I predict that in 2013, more websites will utilise responsive web design to ensure a consistent user-experience across multiple devices.
If you Google “Chinese restaurants in Chiswick”, there’s a good chance that you will see some results with rating stars, which SEOs refer to as “rich snippets”. Rich snippets are a result of “semantic search” and ultimately help users make more informed decisions.
Because semantic search allows for more visually engaging results, click through rates tend to be higher.
A co-citation is simply a mention of a specific keyword relating to a business, such as name, address and phone number, on a relevant website via text as opposed to a hyperlink.
The benefit of building co-citations (as part of a link building strategy) is that webmasters are not required to create direct associations with a business using links. Instead, Google algorithmically creates the association between the source site and a keyword mentioned in the content.
In 2012, Google rolled out a series of algorithm updates, called “Penguin”, which were designed to tackle spammy websites, particularly those that abused exact-match anchor texts. Consequently, this made the SEO community question anchor texts and their longevity.
Google’s regular algorithm updates now means that rankings can vary depending on a user’s location, and therefore a business’s #1 ranking for a specific keyword (for a user in London) may not be reflected for say, a user in Leeds. This is especially true for businesses that have a physical location. Furthermore, with the proliferation of mobile, users are always on the move, and thus rankings likely to change accordingly.
As a result, businesses such as restaurant chains are no longer competing with their top 5 competitors, but instead smaller, more local businesses that will appear as a location-based “Places” result in SERPs.
I predict that in 2013, semantic search, co-citations and local SEO will play a more significant role in determining search engine results.
Earlier this year, Google drew back the curtains on Google Glass – a cool head-mounted display that uses augmented reality (AR) technology, and thus helps the wearer carry out tasks such as reading emails, fetching directions etc.
Although Google Glass was unveiled as a prototype, it did highlight the potential that AR has to offer for both leisure and commercial purposes.
I predict that in 2013, more business will use AR to engage with consumers through mobile.
There has been much speculation surrounding a Facebook-powered search engine, which would surely bolster their stock market value – if executed correctly, of course. I predict that in 2013, Facebook will unveil their own search engine.
What would give Facebook the edge over Google is the fact that the social network already has access to a plethora of valuable data, which would ultimately help them monetise their search engine through targeted advertising.
However, there are substantial hurdles to overcome. In the past, Facebook have been criticised for breaching user privacy. This is something that Zuckerberg and Co. will need to take into account when they embark upon “Facebook Search”.
The power of big data, (analytics and number-crunching on a huge scale to glean targeted consumer insight), has been stealthily growing for the past few years and its coming of age was
surely the success of the Obama campaign this year.
To help appeal to potential financial donors and to get out the vote, the Obama campaign crunched some very big data indeed. Michael Scherer, White House correspondent for Time got an inside-look at the mathematical wizards, behavioural scientists and other data specialists helping to drive the Presidential campaign. “It was really extensive,” says Scherer. “They had an analytics team, for instance, that was five times the size of the one they had in 2008.” Analytics helped the campaign in understanding both the demographics of those that were loyal supporters, and of the ones they needed to target and nudge into the voting booth.
I predict that in 2013 the ‘face’ of big data will emerge. An evangelist in the Steve Jobs mould, capable of turning the data industry on its head and making it accessible and sexy. It will come out from the shadows of the analytics gurus and become truly mainstream and, dare I say it, fun.
That’s it for this year – let me know what you think in the comments below!