eMarketer has released research identifying five top trends for 2013. Counting down backward, the No. 5 trend points to data as marketing's key currency. Many marketers recognize the need to problem-solve and better understand small patterns that combine to create a big picture. This fragmentation became amplified with the introduction of mobile marketing.
A recent poll from Oracle found that marketers realize they must improve the way they gather and analyze information. Some 43% -- the largest group polled -- thought the most-needed improvement resides in the ability to turn information into actionable insight. Without the ability to piece together fragments of data across digital media, marketers lose the insight to accurately target messages.
"Consumer behavior today resembles a mirror broken into thousands of shards, with each representing a potentially valuable bit of data," according to eMarketer analysts. "Piecing that data back together is the antidote to fragmentation."
Trend No. 4 suggests creating a content-marketing strategy to manage nonlinear media consumption and formulate a path to purchase. But content spans wider than earned media on Facebook or a downloadable widget. Earlier this month at the MediaPost Search Insider Summit, Chris Baggott, chairman of Compendium, spoke about descriptions in the body of an email as content.
Trend No. 3 points to nonlinear paths become the normal route to purchase. Trend No. 2 suggests mobile-first as the new priority. The No. 1 trend brings this discussion full circle to fragmentation everywhere.
As eMarketer Analyst Noah Elkin explains, fragmentation yields audiences that appear larger -- at least in aggregate -- but are actually smaller in reality. This quality holds true regardless of channel, he writes. For example, an increasing amount of consumers watch more TV, but those larger audiences are dispersed across multiple channels and/or are streaming TV content to their PCs and smart devices. "With rare exception, the mass audience accustomed to appointment viewing is long gone," he writes.
Elkin said this not only underscores the need for content accessible through multiple channels, but the ability of marketers to access data from those channels. He goes into detail in the Key Digital trends for 2013 report published December 2012.