It’s far too early to talk about predictions for next year, but if I were starting the conversation about 2013 I’d say next year is all about three things: data, mobile and TV.
The undercurrent of everything in marketing right now is data. Data is unavoidable, and for very good reason; it’s the promise of running informed marketing that reduces waste and increases performance. With data you can imagine a very-near -future where all of your efforts are tied together and informed by a 360-degree view of who your customers are and what it takes to drive them to a decision. Regardless of the medium or channel where your message is being delivered, data will enable you to increase the chances that you’ll be effective. You may think data is a buzzword, but it’s actually a sea change -- and one your career will depend on for many years to come.
Mobile is the second area of focus in 2013 and not because “mobile will finally arrive” as a medium (hint: it won’t). In 2013 there will be strides made in understanding how to deliver a marketing message on mobile, but the biggest stride will be in understanding how mobile integrates into the complete media mix. Understanding your customer across online, mobile and offline is where the future of mobile lies. Mobile is not a separate, stand-alone vehicle. It is a support vehicle that allows you to create reminder opportunities and build frequency.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: You would never run a campaign for a major brand with mobile as your only visual medium. It’s not strong enough on its own, but it is very strong at reenforcing a message that was initially introduced somewhere else in your marketing campaign. In order to maximize the return on mobile, you have to carry the data from display over to mobile and vice versa. You have to know the consumer you targeted on a website is the same person you reached on the handset or the tablet, and you would benefit from knowing this is the same person who entered your retail store last week to inquire about your products. Mobile is a medium that can tie together many of your missing answers, since it’s the gateway to location and real-world activity.
Of course you may disagree with me on my third point for 2013: TV. I’m a firm believer that TV is about to undergo a renaissance in the role it plays in marketing. If Apple produces a television set next year, or even in 2014, it may radically alter the perception of TV as a broadcast medium. TV shows still provide water-cooler discussion, and much of the entertainment content online revolves around what is happening on TV. That kind of synergy between two different media is not going away, and an Apple television set could serve to enhance that relationship unlike anything we’ve seen to date. Many companies have tried to integrate apps into the TV experience but they’ve been less than effective. Apple knows how to integrate a digital experience into the mix, and its knowledge could deliver something new and unique.
Even without Apple making its way into the TV business, marketers want to better understand the audience they’re seeing on TV and how that audience relates to their online audience. TV audience targeting is a very distinct possibility, so the ad delivery mechanism can be worth a further pricing increase. I’m not saying the networks will segment and cut up the inventory more than they already do, but I do see a future where customized creative can be queued up and delivered to audience segments through the set-top box, based on audience data following a standardized TV buy. Advertisers could certainly tailor the spot based on the household data they have available, shifting from awareness to acquisition ads -- or the reverse, depending on what they know.
So without making any predictions, I’d say data is the most important element of 2013, with mobile and TV closely linked behind. 2013 could be the year we see cross-platform data become commonplace – or, at the very least, we will see dramatic strides forward on how data informs these tactics.
Don’t you agree?