With fears of another economic dip in the coming months, it looks like marketers will once again be put to the test in 2012. But it’s not all bad news. ZenithOptimedia predicts major media U.S. ad spending will grow 3.5% next year. Naturally, that modest increase is going to be managed to the penny, with analytics tools and other types of technology working side-by-side to stretch budgets farther in marketing offices everywhere. “We are getting closer to a world as envisioned in the movie ‘Minority Report’ than most consumers could even imagine,” says Scott Morgan, president of marketing agency Brunner. So what does the new year have in store for cruising toward that vision? Following are 10 trends that will shape marketing in 2012.
With tight budgets, allocating spending and measuring its ROI is going to be a running battle in marketing departments in 2012. That’s especially true as more marketers experiment with emerging media that are still developing reliable analytics.
This year, measurement and analysis were cited as the biggest internal bottlenecks mentioned by marketers in an annual survey from Unica. Fifty-seven percent of marketers named it as one of their top three issues. In addition, marketers said their top two priorities are “turning data into actions” and “attributing success to marketing,” ahead of picking media channels and integrating marketing across them.
Data analytics will become the new account planning, Brunner's Morgan tells CMO.com
With nearly every major corporation having planted a flag in Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) at this point, marketers once again will begin looking around the world for their next beachhead while developed markets flounder.
“There’s a lot of buzz about emerging markets and the massive opportunity brewing across Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. It’s not just about BRIC anymore,” says Nathan Eagle, founder and CEO of Jana, a startup that enables marketers to reach emerging-market consumers via mobile.
Indeed, emerging markets’ GDP is growing 3 percent faster than the in North America, and will contribute two-thirds of the global GDP by 2030. That’s a very strong incentive to find the next Mumbai or Sao Paulo in 2012.
Measurement firms have begun applying analytics to social media like they do in other channels, so they can be compared “apples to apples,” says Brian Cavoli, director of marketing at social media agency BzzAgent. In 2012, that will “give marketers the confidence to scale social to more accurately represent the sales, revenue, and profit it is generating for the business,” he tells CMO.com.
“One way or another, it’s going to force social media practitioners to grow up a little bit,” adds Chad Warren, senior manager, product marketing for social media at Adobe Systems (CMO.com's parent company), which recently launched SocialAnalytics for measuring social media conversations and relating them to marketing performance.
Social media had received a bit of a free pass before because of its promise, and management often didn’t know what to make of it, Warren tells CMO.com. Proper analytics will lead it to integrate with marketing and other functions more closely, he says.
The title of a new eMarketer report says it all: “Mobile Advertising and Marketing: Moving to the Mainstream.” Thanks to new smartphones and tablets, in 2012 mobile marketing is going to move from text messaging to a richer experience, and mobile advertising will become a true part of the media plan, the eMarketer report states.
The firm is projecting U.S. mobile ad spending will grow 47 percent in 2012, to $1.8 billion, with search, video, and rich media all growing more than 50 percent as advertisers figure out how to translate the desktop experience to the tablet and smartphone. Indeed, spending on mobile display ads is set to overtake ad spend on messaging in 2012, according eMarketer’s forecast.
As more digital developers adopt the HTML5 standard, mobile sites will be able to execute almost everything an app can do without an app download or cross-platform issues, says Sarah Van Heirseele, director of digital at agency Blue Chip Marketing Worldwide. The number of apps will decline, while the number of mobile sites will grow, she tells CMO.com.
It appears that reports of email’s death were greatly exaggerated. Spam filters and even the threat of an opt-out registry can’t stop what Forrester Research calls “the workhorse” of interactive marketing. In its "U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2011 to 2016," Forrester states that email ad spending is going to grow by only a modest 10% during the next five years, but that marketers will increase spending on analytics to better focus on customer relationship management and targeting campaigns.
Ironically, interest in mobile marketing will actually help email become more valuable because email “tethers” all of those other digital efforts, according to Forrester’s analysis.
With social-media use picking up, companies will be focusing more on tracking what's being said about them online and following up on complaints before they go viral. Some companies have sophisticated efforts, such as Dell with its Listening Command Center, but many more are expected to install social media monitoring programs in 2012.
The Unica survey found social-monitoring software to be the top online tool marketers are considering--more than cross-channel interaction management and contact-optimization software--with 26 percent planning to install programs next year.
“You’re probably going to start to see a lot more social triage,” as companies relate online comments to results, thanks to the analytics available, Adobe’s Warren says. They’ll be able to sort comments and respond differently to their best customers: “It’s not only going to change the way you respond, but it will also change the people that you respond to,” he says.
Yes, we’ve heard that before, but with social media's maturation comes increased demands for content. It's not enough to have a Facebook page or Twitter feed--now you have to have provide reasons for consumers to visit you there, such as whitepapers and webinars.
Blue Chip's Van Heirseele notes that new changes in Facebook are drastically decreasing post impressions for brand pages. Content curation will be a hot digital-marketing trend for optimizing social-media pages and adding engagement in 2012, she says. “Gone are the days of getting fans and expecting a return,” she tells CMO.com. “Brands will have to provide relevant and engaging content to get their posts seen.”
In keeping with the interest in content, marketers will increase their use of games to engage online customers.
Marketers already have been adding games to their sites and doing product placement deals with sites such as Farmville and My Town, but now they're also using games to move customers along the decision-making path. They’re shaping their Web sites with quizzes, tasks, and rewards designed to keep customers engaged with all kinds of brands, from insurance to cars. Morgan notes that Brunner has even used “gamification” applications within consumer health care–for example, it created a game-based experience for Aquafresh to reward kids with virtual goods when they brush their teeth the right way.
The gamification sector is worth about $100 million this year, but it’s expected to grow to more than $2.8 billion by 2016, according to a survey from M2 Research. In 2012, the top vendors in the market expect ad spending to grow by 197 percent.
Quick-response (QR) codes have been around for a decade, but another ripple from the increased smartphone use has been recent adoption of the second generation of barcodes by marketers, including SnapTags, which incorporate a brand's logo instead of the traditional scannable square. With most smartphones now capable of scanning the codes, advertisers are using them to link in-store shoppers to manufacturers’ Web sites, connect a retailer’s billboard to a GPS app that maps the nearest store, or download a mobile coupon by scanning a magazine ad.
To be sure, it’s still an emerging medium: A summer ComScore survey found only 6.2% of mobile phone users had scanned a QR code; the users tend to be male, young, and high-income--catnip to advertisers. Expect to see QR codes a lot in 2012 as marketers school the two-thirds of consumers who don’t know what those funny-looking squares are for.
Thanks to new hardware, interactive TV advertising could finally take off in 2012. Satellite and cable companies now have set-top boxes that can process Zip-code based databases for location-based marketing, such as directing a viewer to the nearest car dealerships or stores stocking a product, says Michael Finn, president of BrightLine, an interactive TV advertising specialist. And in coming months, views will be able to load a promotional code into an advertiser’s loyalty program card; this will help advertisers understand the value of their ad campaigns all the way through to sale, Finn tells CMO.com.
“There’s going to be lots happening in this space,” says Marla Kaplowitz, CEO media agency MEC North America. With 75 to 80 percent of viewers using mobile devices while watching, and fast growth in smart TV connections, some advertisers will bet on on-demand TV content via the remote control, while others will look to synchronizing TV and mobile devices, she tells CMO.com. And “should the Apple TV set rumors ever actually prove to be true, then the game could change entirely,” Kaplowitz says.