As a forward-thinking and strategic digital marketing agency and web design company, we like to keep on top of what is happening in the digital world.
As you may remember, we held a very successful seminar in November 2011 that discussed what we think will happen in the digital world in 2012. The digital sphere is a fast-changing place, with many exciting innovations happening all the time with regards to search, advertising, web design and usability.
So, what do we think will happen in 2012?
Social and User Signals will be more influential in search
We have already seen this start to happen with Google +1 but this will really explode in 2012, with social likes/retweets and shares becoming a lot more influential in the search engine rankings.
Google is the number one search engine in the world, it has this position because it gives people what they want and they obviously want to maintain it. Prioritising content that has the most positive feedback is therefore the logical way to go surely?
Google has already revamped the way it looks at sites – who can forget the numerous Panda updates that saw some sites completely drop in the rankings overnight? It was a frightening time for businesses and it looks like Google will continue to update its algorithm in 2012 to make sure that users get the content they like. This is where “Likes”, shares and comments will most likely come in.
As mentioned on State of Search, there have been studies that show a positive correlation between Facebook “likes” and Google rankings. Whether this is merely because popular content is likely to come from big, world renowned brands that have already spent millions on their search marketing is unknown.
Google has already admitted here that it uses Twitter when ranking sites.
So, expect to see social factors influencing search in 2012!
Brands will up the ante to build social media relationships with consumers.
Another thing that will become more apparent in 2012 is the use of social pages to create relationships between brands and consumers. Of course we all know this has been going on for years on Facebook; but never has it become harder, yet easier for big brands to interact with their target audience.
Let’s explain. Brands now have more information on us than ever thanks to sites like Facebook. You can now find out which songs their target audience are listening to and what content they’re reading. Brands can also target their social recruitment advertising campaigns to people dependant on whether they are single, married, have children over 16 or are in certain jobs.
But, making advertisers nervous is the fact that Facebook has never been busier. Now, users are updated the very instant their friends do something on Facebook or listen to a song on Spotify.
The new Timeline feature also complicates matters somewhat, as well as the fact that it is now easier than ever to hide and filter what content you see on Facebook.
Brands will have to work harder than ever in 2012 to snare their target market and keep them in their grasp.
Humanising big brands is the key, and we think Timeline will play a huge part here.
Brands haven’t been given Facebook’s new Timeline feature yet, and Facebook hasn’t ever confirmed that they will. However, we predict that the first half of 2012 will see Facebook making an announcement that brands will be given the feature. Mashable has mocked up what McDonalds would look like when switched over to Timeline.
We also predict that more integration between Augmented Reality and social media will be the key to doing this.
We mention Augmented Reality a little further on, so keep reading!
Web design will become much more abstract and minimal
Again, this is already happening, but will become much more common in 2012. We’re loving the postcard-esque, image led designs that we have come across in the last few months and are excited about where this trend will go.
Fonts will also become more “handwritten” in the way they look, leading to websites having more of a personal feel. Also, as speculated on in this article, designs will be more all-encompassing, taking into account the fact that people now buy products across a wide range of digital platforms.
Designs have also become a lot more textured, with a more 3D feel and look to them.
Whereas, 2011 was all about content, 2012 is all about the visuals and texture baby!
Mobile devices will overtake the desktop PC and laptop
Pretty soon, it’ll be hard to imagine a world where people didn’t order pizzas, buy furniture and book a restaurant table from a mobile device such as a smartphone or IPad.
It’ll also be hard to imagine a world without responsive web design. Responsive web design is where a website will automatically resize to scale if you reduce the size of your browser. This is perfect for sites likely to be accessed from a variety of devices.
This future for web design is crashing towards us at breakneck speed, and it is clear that mobile devices are going to rise to the top of the tree in 2012; becoming the default choice for most people.
With the news reported here that the number of active mobile devices in the US now actually exceeds its population, this is not surprising at all really.
CNN reports here that tablet devices are not just alternatives to laptops and desktop PCs; they are replacements and will sweep their older versions away gradually in 2012.
We’ve already seen sites specifically built for mobile devices, but 2012 will see sites built that work excellently across multiple platforms.
It will become very important to make sure you website design is fully responsive to every device a user decides to surf with. 2012 will be all about ensuring your website is compatible with every size to maximise conversion and customer satisfaction.
Augmented reality (AR) will start to have a definite role within digital advertising and marketing
Augmented reality is already seen in advertising, but will become more and more commonplace as we advance through 2012. Augmented reality, unlike Virtual Reality, works with your actual environment and enhances it, providing users with fresh and interesting content and new and exciting experiences.
Previously famous examples include the excellent Rayban Virtual Mirror (which allows you to virtually try on Rayban sunglasses from the comfort of your bedroom) and We Are Autobots (self-explanatory and totally awesome!).
Augmented reality is now being touted as the future of advertising. Apps like Blippar demonstrate this by allowing you hover over a brand with your camera phone and access content that has been put there for Blippar users only. It’s like the QR code, only not boring. The fact that we can now whip out our Smartphones and scan our environment, finding out live information is incredibly exciting for the advertising and marketing worlds.
Considering apps like Blippar are free to download and provide original content to users on the go, this could explode in 2012 and we think it will.
Tell us what you think of our predictions for 2012!
We’ll look back later in the year and let you know if we were right!
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from the Adido team.
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