Far beyond the snow-tipped peaks of Mount Nostradamus, across the fires of Rune Canyon and into the deepest, darkest heart of Wiccan Woods… there, in a small sunlit clearing (sat on an assortment of funky beanbags) will you find the marketing department of Soothsayers International.
Every detail of marketing’s future can be heard from their wizened lips. But if you want to save the taxi ride, listen in and I’ll share their secrets with you – their predictions for marketing in 2012…
1. TV fights back
Not as crazy as it initially sounds. With Smart TVs blurring the lines between web and broadcast media, plans are afoot to bring the benefits of digital advertising to your home entertainment hub.
By the end of the year you can expect to see commercials served up to your Smart TV based on your viewing and browsing habits. Interactive ads, such as those planned by Microsoft for the Xbox Kinect will also make TV advertising more measurable.
And if that wasn’t enough to convince you, rumblings from Cupertino that Apple are currently developing their first TV set should. After all, wherever the Jobsists lead, money invariably follows.
2. Mobile gets everywhere
A main priority for all brand managers this year will be to optimise sites for tablet and mobile. Tablet sales are bullishly predicted to rise by 50% this year. But as costs tumble and specs skyrocket, don’t be surprised to see even these predictions obliterated long before December’s out.
Coupled to the ubiquity of smartphones, new browser interfaces such as Apple’s Siri (which has already encouraged iPhone users to double their data network activity) and the rise of location-based marketing, few will be able to resist this booming channel for another 12 months.
3. SMO replaces SEO
Google+ has been a little slow on the uptake since its launch in the summer of 2011, but usage figures are steadily creeping up. Once they reach tipping point, you can expect to see a fundamental change in the way we search the net, with personally relevant results pulled in from friend and peer recommendations.
This means brands will need to look even more closely at their social strategy if they are to rise up the pecking order of future search results. Social Media Optimisation (SMO) will ultimately replace SEO.
Oh, and don’t expect Facebook and Twitter to stand idly by and watch. The convergence of social and search could be the biggest battle we see in 2012’s digital landscape.
4. Content marketing usurps campaign marketing (and gamification keeps us hooked)
As the world around us drives the need for a more content-based approach to marketing, brand managers will put more stock in developing clear content strategies. Expect to attend more meetings about how your brand can tell a consistent story across diverse channels.
Meanwhile, the principles of gamification will increasingly be used to keep people engaged with branded content. From time-killing apps to reward-based learning, 2012 will be the year in which the king dons the jester’s hat and encourages us all to play.
5. Data-targeting takes priority
By no means a new trend, but one that has shown its undeniable value in the recessionary landscape. As poorly targeted campaigns continue to haemorrhage money, expect to see more and more marketing managers invest in data cleansing and analysis to ensure their campaign budgets stop being lost to the ether.
6. Automation goes epic
Marketing automation programs such as Eloqua and Unica have been gaining traction for a number of years now. But as pressure grows on marketing to deliver greater efficiency and accountability, and the software becomes more accessible (not to mention manageable), expect 2012 to be the year when marketing automation goes through the roof.
So there you have it. The soothsayers have spoken. And their news is good: in 2012, marketing is innovating harder and faster than ever to offer brand managers new ways to deliver greater impact, engagement and returns on their investment.
Charlie Thorogood is a copywriter at Mason Zimbler.