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This Year’s Top Trends in Digital & Social

Each year, Ian Schafer and the team at Deep Focus publish a forecast of the trends that will rule digital and social for the next 12 months.

I find the format very readable and straight-talking. It reminds me of Newsweek’s Conventional Wisdom Watch, e.g. Here’s what everyone’s buzzing about… but here’s how to interpret the trend and get ahead of it.

The Deep Focus 2014 Digital Marketing Outlook tackles all the current buzzwords: Real-time marketing, geo-fencing, predictive analytics, etc. We’re used to reading a lot of nonsensical gibberish on these topics. Instead, the authors offer a refreshing and conversational analysis that gives you the confidence to evaluate new platforms and ad formats and decide if they’re relevant to you.

The whole 31-slide PowerPoint is worth a read, but if here are two quick highlights if you’re short on time:

1.   Content vs. context & Geo-fencing

We know that mobile users are task-based and less likely to respond to disruptive ad formats like pop-ups or video ads, but how about serving up relevant discounts when they’re in close proximity to a retail location, aka geo-fencing?

Deep Focus Conventional Wisdom (CW) says: “Consumers will have low tolerance for promotional messages on their personal devices. Instead, marketers should also consider strategic opportunities for driving brand engagement, especially on social platforms. For example, if a lifestyle brand were to create a geo-fence around a neighborhood or event and ask its visitors to tweet or post a photo from there, it could reinforce the brand’s identity and potentially drive viral reach.”

And, “Rather than clutter the experience with display ads, [marketers] should ?nd ways to provide users with tools, information, content and resources to help them complete their tasks.” statistics suggest that until advertisers appreciate its full potential, mobile spending – particularly display – will fall short of objectives:  For example, 2014 will see 59.5% growth in mobile ad spending, yet 60% of mobile channel managers have no intention of using geo-fencing technologies.

2.    Unlocking the potential of Pinterest & other platforms to drive sales

Deep Focus CW: “Pinterest may be the one platform best positioned to capitalize on the possibilities of offering inspiration and deals when you’re at the point-of-purchase.”

But to drive sales, there must be a connection and incentive to buy. For months, I’ve pinned stuff to boards for reference or inspiration… but mostly for future purchase, e.g. My Dream Kitchen or Places to Go boards. Only recently I’ve started to get email notifications like “Your pin’s price has dropped.” And yes, I did click on the image and buy it, if I could do so without a lot of hoopla.

Imagine the power of promotional messaging based on my pins at the exact moment I’m in front of the store or on their web site.

Says Deep Focus: “Don’t overlook the fact that for Pinterest to be an effective traffic or ecommerce driver, the content featured on Pinterest must live on the destination site and be pinned to Pinterest. And it must be excellent quality. This may seem obvious, but many marketers have approached Pinterest as a channel rather than a distribution community and have been appropriately disappointed by its results.”

Read all 12 trends in the 2014 Outlook, here.

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