10 Digital Marketing Predictions for 2014
As has become traditional at this time of year, I’ve been compiling our predictions about how the world of digital will change in the coming 12 month. This year’s digital predictions have been particularly interesting to compile, given what an exciting year we’ve just had:
Here are my 10 predictions for digital in 2014:
- Video will be everywhere
- The new BEBO will be crowned…
- …while Facebook will mature
- Bitcoins will continue to divide us
- Wearable technology will redefine ‘overshare’
- Google will further integrate Google+
- Inter-app purchases will become the default way of monetising
- 3D printers will go mainstream – and become regulated
- ‘Big Data’ will… still be big
- 24/7 Customer Service will become expected
Video has undoubtedly been one of the stars of 2013, with YouTube alone making headlines on an almost daily basis. That boom is sure to continue in 2014, with a number of factors looking set to help it along the way. The mass-adoption of 4G is the big one – streaming video on your mobile device is no longer something which requires a second mortgage, and technology is embracing this. The super-sizing of broadband download speeds is another major factor. To a lesser extent, the prevalence of on-demand TV will also help, as users become comfortable with video being instantly available on virtually any device they have. All of which adds up to 2014 being a huge year for video.
As video booms, so too will the need from proper search for video. Tagging and semantic indexing has got us this far, but 2014 will see some major technological leaps in the way we categorise and index video – Siri shows that voice-recognition is already perfectly competent at listening and understanding audio, and with the combination of voice and image recognition being applied to video, video search is sure to blossom.
With teens apparently leaving Facebook in the droves (many citing its mass-adoption as their reason for leaving – though snooping parents are probably more of a problem), services like SnapChat, WhatsApp and, to an extent, Twitter are all reaping the benefits. With Facebook continuing to grow (now well over 1 billion user mark), this youth exodus will continue in 2014 – and a number of new social networks will spring up, attempting to mop these frustrated users up.
Whilst SnapChat and WhatsApp provide a small part of the Facebook experience, it’ll take a service which caters for all their needs in one simple place for the battle to be won. Bebo may have died a death, but to some extent it’ll be their successor (the next youth social network) which will make waves in 2014.
With the above-mentioned exodus already taking place, many commentators have suggested that Facebook will recognise the need to adapt to their aging demographic. Whilst larger fonts and bigger pictures might be one (mainly frivolous) way to do this, the fact is that Facebook grew to what it is now based on the requirements and needs of students and young adults.
With the average age of Facebook users growing all the time, Facebook will almost certainly seek to make their service more appealing to seasoned technology users – with the news feed likely to be the main way that this change will be visible. Earlier this month, Facebook announced the latest raft of changes to their newsfeed, with sites like BuzzFeed taking a hit in favour of ‘real’ news sources – a move which surely signals things to come.
One of the most talked-about topics in the tech community this year, many digital predictions you’ll see this winter will over-hype the importance of BitCoins. Whilst they have certainly captured the imagination of a significant group of people, the fact is that the average man or woman on the street has absolutely no idea what they are or where they come from. Add to that the fact that people often mistrust the notion of ‘online money’ and it all adds up to BitCoins almost certainly NOT being the online currency that hits the big time.
That’s not to say that SOME online or alternative currency won’t take off during 2014 – but the chances of it being BitCoin seem rather slim at this point.
With the launch of Google Glass seeming like a distant memory, the emergence of wearable technology has seemed a lot quieter than expected in 2013. Devices like the Samsung ‘Galaxy Gear’ watch and the Nike ‘Fuel Band’ are already quietly seeping in to the mainsteam, so people are already comfortable with the concept of apps creeping outside of their smartphone and onto their bodies.
2014 will see wearable technology making technological leaps like never before. Don’t be at all surprised if the top-sellers next Christmas include smart shoes which monitor your health, glasses with heads-up displays (without the chunky price tags of Google Glass) and maybe even smart fillings which monitor your dental health…
I’m not going to go down the obvious route and suggest that Google+ might get the “sunsetting” treatment this year, but I’m also avoiding the obvious pitfall of saying that it will flourish. Instead, we’re predicting that Google+ will see its integration with Google search going even deeper than before – taking Google+ away from being a ‘Facebook rival’ and becoming seamlessly integrated with your Google experience.
We’ve already seen G+ integrated into YouTube quite extensively, and during 2014 this will spread to many other sites – either those that Google already own, or as part of the raft of sites they seem to acquire every year. Pretty soon you’ll find it almost impossible to avoid being part of Google+, whether you like it or not.
Games like Candy Crush Saga have brought the topic of inter-app purchases into the mainstream media this year, and with the growth of smartphones and tablets set to sky-rocket this year, the debate is sure to continue.
Two things are likely to come out of this debate. Firstly, the process of purchasing ‘add-ons’ inside your favourite app or service will come under much tighter scrutiny – both to ensure the process is secure, and to ensure only genuine purchases go through. Secondly, it will become seamless and instant – meaning micro-payments will spread to websites and software too. Want to buy a stripped-down Microsoft product where you only pay for elements when you need them? Or access newspaper content on a per-read basis? Both will undoubtedly be possible before 2014 is through.
The price of 3D printers has dropped hugely this year, placing them within tantalising distance of becoming an easy household purchase. 2014 will see home printers replaced by 3D printers in many households, though this will also come with its fair share of problems too.
The biggest of these will be the regulation of exactly WHAT you can print. We’ve already seen stories (albeit slightly mis-reported ones) about people printing gun parts which have been downloaded freely from the internet. It’s only a matter of time before somebody manages to construct a bomb or a major weapon from 3D-printed parts, and when that happens ‘traditional’ media will be in uproar. Expect a quick law-change from the government, followed by a lengthy debate about how these things can actually be policed effectively.
Whilst many technology predictions during 2013 have trumpeted the rise of Big Data, we’ve failed to really see any major steps forward in the understanding or use of said data. Big Data is beginning to feel like the classic “This year is the year of mobile” – in other words, much discussed but an awfully long time coming.
So my prediction re. Big Data is pretty simple – even by the end of 2014, people will still be debating Big Data (and probably still predicting that it’s about to hit the big time) but we’ll be no closer to actually figuring out HOW we’re supposed to appreciate or utilise the data we’re all discussing. I’d love to be proven wrong on this one – there’s only so long you can hear about something being huge without seeing any actual evidence of it before you start to doubt its cheerleaders.
Social media has dragged customer service kicking and screaming into the 21st century – but many brands and organisations still operate during ‘office hours only’, so 24/7 customer service has yet to really take hold. But as technology like the Amazon Kindle ‘Mayday’ service become more mainstream, customers will come to expect customer service to operate at the same times they do – with companies that struggle to keep up falling by the wayside.
All in all plenty to look forward to in the New Year!