2011: My Digital Predictions

The web is currently filled with 2011 predictions as “gurus” and geeks trying to prove we’re social savants before the papers are due this Friday. After a rollicking lovely Midwestern Christmas, like a lazy college student combing Wikipedia, I’m going to submit my list by mixing ideas from the greats:

1. Mobile

This was the most awesome project I worked on as an intern this year, and an original thought to start off the list. While the KOL’s argue about iPhones, Droids and Microsoft phones, the baseline is the marketing world is prepping for the year of mobile. I couldn’t find smartphone sales for 2010 (Q4 reports aren’t in yet), but hopefully we can take heart in Neilson’s trend reports.

2. Art in Advertising

Warhol once took blank canvases and true to marketing, created ads which have outlived any inhouse branding and sometimes the icon itself. I think what the Old Spice campaign taught us is the value of creativity in advertising. Create art or entertainment which has life apart from the brand and it will carry the brand’s message. The age of digital will see a return in Mad Men style creatives.

3. Aggregators

@SteveRubel wrote a month or so ago that people were constantly asking him what the Next Big Thing is. He said we needed to focus on creation rather than discovering. My vote was for aggregation, but his latest blog post takes another track: Curation. The idea being apps, sites or widgets that can effectively archive sort and our content have an underdeveloped market. I’m going to “favorite” this prediction and nod to “cloud” based widgeting.

4.iPad Apps Gold Rush
If apps which can translate to and from iPhones aren’t enough to keep the tablet-dicted happy, the rush of subscription magazines and advertising for the iPad will keep AT&T’s network blitzing out. Wired Magazine reported 24000 copies sold in 24 hours in May, and Marie Claire’s Chief Editor commented at Internet Week magazine spreads and ads look “amazing on iPads”, even better than in print.

5.Network Wars – The Telecomm Kind

To continue with my shout out for AT&T, the infamous rate limiting plan, a staggered payment system introduced this which encourages less usage, highlighted the network’s growing problem with overuse, partly thanks to the iPad. With more users moving to Droid and the iPhone opening to other networks, I’m predicting increases telecomm competition and investment in networks.

6.Traditional Budgets Decrease
2010 was the year of social media exploded, which was partly due to decreased marketing budgets which sought to maximize dollars in the online sphere. While major app and website development can get pricey, the reach and tracking capabilities 2010 saw will continue to whitewash billboards. Increases in profit margins across industries won’t send corporations scrambling to rebuild budgets. More likely marketing dollars will just continue their move to digital. IF, and this is a big IF, we can break down the silos and move to digitally integrated marketing campaigns it will be better for all players on the board. If only…

7.E-Commerce

Do I have to explain? Cyber Monday saw a 167% increase in spending and with social media pushing online sales, and consumers growing increasingly savvy of email marketing deals, the online shopping sphere is going to continue to leave brick and mortar ghosttowns. The main factor here is free shipping. Web analysts have found most consumers will abandon shopping carts if they find on “check-out” shipping isn’t free. Other factors incluced a the small business world exploding online, and the age of info-savvy consumers who want comparisons.

8. Data, Make the Data Pay

My favorite viral video of 2010 was “New Dork”. This catchy geek anthem featured the phrase “Geeks spreading sheet smarts”, in reference to the Excel powered online businesses. As values of Twitter, GroupOn and Facebook continue to shock us, it’s evident access to consumer data is driving investment. Portal customizations, buying, stock prices, content creation and predictions all feed off data. The highest paid jobs will go to those who can analyze data.

9. US & China: Frenemies 4 Life

Napoleon called it back in the day: “China is a sleeping giant, and when he awakes, he will shake the world.” Stateside, we’ve been harolding the rise of China since Deng Xiaoping shook the world in eighties by opening up to the free market. While experts try to compare China to Japan, they fail to factor in the Chinese army is about the US population. China will continue to grow in political pressure, but with the US economic rebound, (for the rich anways), and the decrease in growth China felt during our Recession, our economic bonds will rebound and grow in 2011.

10.Gen @ My Business
(Source: http://www.businessgenerationy.com)
Gen Y, meaning me, got dealt quite a blow during the Recession. We were pushed out of jobs, stagnated in our positions as Boomers found they couldn’t retire, missed out on bonuses while higher execs soaked up the excess profits, and competed with more qualified, experienced candidates for entry-level jobs. Meanwhile after a life of being spoon-fed praises and coached in “personal branding” we’ve decided to “employ ourselves”. In 2011 you will begin to see the effects of basement entrepreneurs, web-based GenY start-ups, free from the VC’s of GenX’s .Com boom.

11.C2B Demands Flips B2C Marketing

This may or may not happen in 2011, but it’s my prediction for the future, a combination of all the above: clouds, info-savvy consumers, global competition, online small businesses and more digital access. American Airlines discontinued its partnership with Orbitz this year in a move away from price-comparing sites. AA, you can’t fight progress. I see a model closer to Amazon’s customized consumer portals erupting, where feedback and purchasing decisions create a more directly demand driven economy. Taking into consideration trends in customization and You advertising such as Yahoo’s site campaigns, I think the web has given consumers an outlet to voice their demands, much more than brands to broadcast their message.

Bonus: Digg will atrophy, but lists, like Craigslist, will continue to blow up. Consumers continue to love personal connections on the web, and social networking will kill link sites.

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