2013 Predictions Include Brand-Commissioned Pop Music And IPads At Your Courtside Seat

If 2012 was the year of the London Olympics, the Election, and GangnamStyle, what does 2013 hold in store for marketers? Where will the growth come from? We see a number of trends ready to shape the way we do business. Across several categories below, we’ll make a “safe” and an “out on a limb” prediction.

In the social media space, a few actionable shifts will happen:

Safe: The Image will officially become king. Today’s consumers are overloaded with text, so the picture will surpass the tweet as our primary micro-communication. And expect another photo-sharing site (besides Instagram) to rise to prominence and be targeted for acquisition. This means your brands had better be ready to deliver visual content built to garner likes, comments and shares. Because a picture may be worth 1,000 words, but more importantly for us, it’s worth 140 characters. 

Out on a Limb: Facebook will announce plans to charge for brands’ pages. The social giant is one of the last places where advertisers can reach mass audiences largely for free. (To wit, if Starbucks wants to reach 34 million people with an offer, they can either buy 30 seconds of airtime during the “American Idol” season finale, or they can simply update their timeline). Once Facebook figures out a peaceful way to monetize brands’ pages and mobile newsfeeds, its stock price will soar to $70 a share and beyond. Are your brands ready to pay rent? 

In terms of music marketing, watch for these trends:

Safe: MySpace will hail its return to relevance. Led by thought leaders like Justin Timberlake and Tim and Chris Vanderhook, MySpace will soon unveil an overhauled user experience and place its energy squarely on new music. Their mission statement is to re-evolve into "the social music destination for the creative community to connect with fans."  They have competition from Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter and others – but early beta designs of the new site, and MySpace’s growth amongst 13-17 year olds, are promising signs of a revival. Teen- and tween-focused brands, take note. 

Out on a Limb: A popular band will record an album entirely commissioned by a brand. It’s only a matter of time, right? 2013 new releases are already slated from powerhouse, corporate-savvy acts like U2, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Metallica and Arcade Fire. But look to hear an announcement that a band has begun recording a “fully sponsored” album -- including lyrical product integration, paid appearances, and marketing rights -- set to release in 2014. The guesses here include: Carly Rae Jepsen, Psy, Bruno Mars, or 2Chainz, among others. Which brand will step up and underwrite a new-wave project like this?  

For sports marketers, be aware of these coming shifts:

Safe: The gap between rich and poor pro teams will grow. Local TV team deals will continue to separate the rich from the poor, as they allow power franchises like the L.A. Lakers and Anaheim Angels to overspend on free agents and comfortably defray luxury tax penalties. So how can the Minnesota Timberwolves and Kansas City Royals compete? They can’t. Unless one of them cracks the code and finds a revenue windfall via mobile streaming of games, or via the recently approved display ads on NBA uniforms. Stay tuned. 

Out on a Limb: You’ll walk into a stadium and find a free-for-use tablet at your seat. Teams are aggressively innovating the in-stadium experience to recoup lower box office sales as at-home viewing gets better and better. They’ll offer things like premium pre-game/halftime entertainment, valet parking, unique promotions on concessions, and techy throw-ins like using a tablet to augment the in-person experience. Imagine checking your fantasy scores, seeing custom replays, or ordering a drink without missing a minute of action. Look for upscale brands (e.g., airlines promoting new international destinations) to supplement these high-tech installations, and reach the affluent fans who can afford the best seats in the house. 

There’s plenty to be excited about for next year. Just make sure your brands stay on top (or better yet, in front) of the latest trends. Because in 2013, change will continue to be the only constant.

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