It just wouldn't be January without making some predictions about what the coming year will bring. Here are my top 10 digital marketing predictions for 2014. If even half of these come true, it will certainly be a year to remember!
1. Social signals and intent continue to rise in importance
Last year, I predicted leveraging social signals and intent would become a growing focus - and it is. In fact, Apple's acquisition of Topsy (a Twitter search tool) late last year validates the fact that mining social data will become important as brands and industry titans like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, eBay and Microsoft increasingly look to leverage social data to help marketers sense and respond to customer needs in the years ahead.
2. Social efforts become more integrated
Given the growing importance of social data and signals, marketers will have to rethink social media and marketing efforts and look to increasingly integrate key technologies, data and departments into the core marketing infrastructure and databases. While experimentation and innovation with social solutions will continue, consolidation and integration around data, tools, analytics and business processes will increasingly be part of CRM design efforts.
3. The internet of things becomes a core focus
According to BI Intelligence, there will be over 75 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. With an average annual compounded growth rate of 31 percent, the internet of things will increasingly become part of the marketing/CRM conversation. Look for more high profile acquisitions on the mobile front, as big brands follow the likes of Facebook (Facebook acquires Parse) and Paypal (Paypal acquires Stackmob) to increase their mobile smarts through strategic acquisitions of MBaaS players (mobile as a backend service). Doing this will enable these industry titans to gain access to in-app activities, location and purchases across a multitude of devices including phones, tablets, gaming consoles and more. Gaining access to device-level data will become the new battleground.
4. Mobile advertising will continue to accelerate
Big investments in mobile as a backend service players (MBaaS solutions) along with the implementation of SDKs in mobile apps across devices will significantly accelerate the already rapidly growing mobile advertising market. Why? Access to critical data such as IDFA (Apple Identifier for Advertisers) IDs will provide the link necessary to find and target users via in-app mobile advertising. Big ad exchanges are already running remarketing campaigns using the IDFA and targeting via IDFA will go mainstream in 2014.
5. Location will redefine the shopping experience
You can't talk about the explosion of mobile without mentioning the growing importance that location will have in redefining our offline experiences. One of the core benefits of iOS7 highlighted in a recent article is iBeacons. The ability to leverage iBeacons in-store to reach users with rich and relevant information based on their location will increasingly enrich our in-store shopping experience. Watch for the sophistication and growing usage of iBeacons and in-store WiFi, in the coming year and expect to see more and more marketers attempt to differentiate themselves by creating truly unique digital and in-store experiences for known users.
6. Marketing orchestration is the new nirvana
With a growing focus on mining social signals and leveraging events and behaviors from a multitude of connected devices, marketers will get better at creating and orchestrating messages according to the customer journey. As a result, marketing cloud providers will continue to expand their capabilities and enhance their functionality.
7. Content strategy and optimization become crucial
As the internet of things proliferates, content strategy and optimization will rise in importance. "Smart rendering" by device will become a necessity in order to create a positive multi-channel user experience.
8. "Smart" data overshadows big data
You can't have a conversation about social signals, the internet of things and marketing orchestration without recognizing the role of data and analytics. While the volume of data will increase, the focus will shift to "smart data" through robust analytics that allow brands to better understand consumer events and behaviors, and respond to future needs. Look for additional investments to be made in Hadoop-like systems to better manage Big Data from cross-channel interactions that also include unstructured social data.
9. The CMO/CIO relationship will drive competitive advantage
With the growing sophistication and investment in the marketing cloud, CMOs will increasingly drive big technology purchases. While CMOs will become more technology focused, they will need to work closely with their CIO/CTO counterparts to assure success and drive efficiency company-wide. Big investment decisions through this partnership will need to benefit multiple divisions, departments and needs on a global basis - the brands with the best CMO/CIO relationships will get there faster and create a real competitive edge.
10. Privacy issues heat up
The combination of some well publicized data breaches this past holiday season, with the growing number of opportunities to collect data from a multitude of channels and devices will shine a spotlight on privacy. As a result, we may see more states adopting a Do Not Track rule similar to California's which went into effect January 1st.
In addition, look for industry to adopt more self-regulatory programs including increasing awareness for existing consumer controls that enable individuals to adjust device settings such as "Limit Ad Tracking" to restrict advertisers from using IDFA for advertising. The Federal government may also reexamine existing protections as they are with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
Finally, expect to see Europe and APAC countries to get even tougher as they crack down on spam and push for tougher oversight and stronger data privacy protection from the US following the recent revelations that the National Security Administration harvested data on Europeans.
There you have it... it's going to be an exciting year for marketers.