Let’s start saying that 2008 has been an incredible year for our industry…
With the introduction of new mobile technologies and the boom of social media we have experienced incredible creativity and innovation from numerous brands through some extraordinary online user experiences.
We’ve seen brands stepping into more and more UGC competitions, the increasing use of online branded web-series and in-game advertising on the rise; but the highlight of the year has to be OBAMA and his awesome social team in providing us with the most magnificent online and offline campaign e.v.e.r – and I am sure you all know what I am talking about
It took a bit of thinking but I will now try and write down some of the predictions my brain has come up with ;O)
So, let’s give it a start….
- Customization and Crowdsourcing– You may have definitely already seen the beginning of this but customization will be a major trend in every single sector. With the increasing economic turmoil, people will be looking for quality rather than quantity and products unique to themselves are what will make the difference. Consumers will want to stand out even more in such times and brands will need to offer a way to let this happen.
Ideas like NikeID, for example, will have to introduce even more innovative concepts to make the shoes even more unique to the consumers’ eye. Even if crowdsourcing may sound like a complete opposite trend, it somehow has something to do with customization if used in the right way. Users not only will want to have a unique product but they want to have ‘a voice’ on what to produce. Companies like RYZ are going to receive incredible investments from bigger brands to adopt the same model or step into their site, because this is where consumers have the right to create, choose and buy their own product. Crowdsourcing is about involving the consumer in business and product development, IdeaStorm by DELL is a great example of a brand thinking forward and listening to what the consumer wants and many brands will definitely have to follow suit…
- Online TV – The increasing launch of IPTV services and with people leading a busier lifestyle, online TV viewing is going to have a major impact in people’s media consumptions, even more relevant when backed up by new social media tools to facilitate communication.
MTV set the standard at the end of September with BackChannel, an innovative way to allow like-minded individuals hooked on the show ‘The Hills’ to interact with each other through games and competitions while watching the show on the IPTV service. Radio and TV channels will have to think about innovative ways to interact with their consumers while enjoying this ‘new way of watching video content’ online. Can you imagine Channel4 introducing something on these lines for SKINS communities out there?
- Consumers-driven Branded Communities – I usually call them CBS (consumers branded spaces) and these are the communities where users have a very important role in shaping the future of a brand. This can be seen as a pretty good strategy for brands to turn some of the fans in real advocates, often providing tools for them to become highly influential within the community.
At the beginning of the year O2 launched Customer World, a space where they’ve been able to talk to me in a very personal way, incentivised me to respond to surveys, getting me involved in advertising previews and allowed me to stay up-to-date with the latest on technology and innovation through their blog.
This goes to say that, if brands used to step into social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Bebo, developing branded pages in communities where consumers were already existent – NOW these are going to fade away because of all the ‘branded cluttered content’ available. Users are not going to be able to follow what every brand is up to within only one space (i.e. all the Facebook pages I’m a Fan of) hence why creating advocates within unique branded spaces is the way to go. This way, companies are certain to communicate with the ‘few interested individuals’ who are actively involved with their brands
- Power to the Blogosphere – Following what I just said above, creating online advocates is a great strategy for brands to be more visible within the digital arena – because of this, bloggers will come to play an even more important role in the new year. Approaching influential individuals online to support new creative and innovative initiatives is something very established outside of Europe, especially in the US where many brands have employed such strategy with amazing results (i.e. HP and the 31 days of the Dragon). Now that we have a good number of influential bloggers within Europe interested in several different areas, we will see many of these backing up such initiatives. Also, the graph below from Hitwise Research shows how increasingly high has the traffic to blogs and personal websites in the UK been in the past few years.
Something to always take into consideration is the quality of the creative thinking behind these initiatives. To create a positive buzz within the blogosphere brands will have to come up with extraordinary user experiences for bloggers to get highly involved with (great example is the 7th Syndicate idea by V&A).
Also, brands will learn not to ignore what people are saying about them online, with particular attention to the blogosphere. We’ve seen many cases this year of brands having to deal with harsh consequences after ignoring the online community, best of the worst probably has to be the Motrin Case. This goes to say – brands will start listening more to the ‘voice of the online crowd’ – we gotta hope so…
- New Mobile Technologies – With the mobile as one of the most important portable device in our lives and with the iPhone gaining always more market share – 2009 is in for big surprises with reference to new mobile technologies. We’ve already seen how QR codes are being used by brands as an innovative way to access digital unique content from any offline media – examples include H&M with their new catalogues’ launch and McDonald allowing people to read nutritional informations about their products from the packaging.
However, what we will see more of is the introduction of advanced mobile technologies together with QR codes to create very innovative user experiences to perfectly tie in offline and online concepts. The latest great campaign developed by our friends at We Are Social for Ford KA – Find It – is a great example of this. Through the download of a ‘3D KA’ mobile application, you can try out the 3D Ford Ka from your Nokia phone simply pointing your phone at the 3D marker which you can grab from the Gofindit.net website. You can also check out the video of the 3D Ka here to understand how things work better. When the 3D Ka is viewed at a particular angle on the phone screen it will reveal a secret URL: GoFindIt.net, continuing the campaign theme of “looking beyond the obvious”.
- Facebook Connect – I’ve titled this Facebook Connect but what I really want to highlight is the power of controlling all your online activity under one roof.. OpenID had previously started this but Facebook has so many more options and tools to let this opportunity work better. Facebook Connect is going to facilitate this through the access of your personal data when signing up to any participating website. When mentioning data we mean more then your personal details; we’ll be able to see which friends have access to the same site, control the activity from your personal page, upload the same photos directly into the new website and so forth.
In the near future, we will be also able to access our favourite websites straight from a personal Facebook platform, with the possibility to carry your data with you and talk to your friends on wherever website you are visiting. Every single activity from one single place…
I will be back with more predictions in the new year, so stay tuned for Part 2
In the meantime I take the opportunity to wish you all a very HAPPY NEW YEAR. I am pretty positive about 2009 for our industry, with the increase of digital marketing spent against offline advertising I am quite confident we are all in the right boat – fingers crossed it’ll be a fantastic new year ahead!!!
See you next year :O)