Digital trends in 2014

Four ways in which the digital stratosphere will be altered by business in 2014.

Tracking a new wave of digital trends

By Adam Walker

1) Businesses will Continue to Ruin Social Media (particularly YouTube)

In a similar way to how Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are now stuffed full of advertising, the same destiny is awaiting this year’s trending platforms. Vines are already being mass produced by corporations and businesses looking to shove their brand name in your face in all aspects of your online journey. YouTube estimate they have over a million advertisers using Google platforms to advertise in-stream and marketing agencies have turned their focus to video to help give their clients “the edge”.

Despite the sheer volume of advertisers, it was estimated that in 2011 only one in a 1,000 views had a value equal-to or more than a dollar. Crucially, this profitability is estimated on data from top advertisers such as The New York Times and concerns videos that have been monitored by YouTube following them going viral, which makes the figures optimistic at best and practically invalid at worst.

Very few companies do this well and rarely is there a “naturally viral” hit. More than half of ALL videos on YouTube receive less than 500 views (using the formula previously stated that equates to $0.5 for a marketing video on average) yet the web is constantly being filled with more business-owned content.

The Good News

As Twitter and Facebook have proven, over the past few years there is nothing quite like a social media meltdown to prove that 99 per cent of businesses do not get it. I would refer you to JP Morgan’s Twitter Q&A session with one of their senior bankers which invited a storm of abuse and anger from the majority of Twitter users, or the even more recent Justine Sacco incident where a senior exec within a PR firm managed to simultaneously insult the continent she was flying to, infuriate thousands and lose her job with one tweet. Thanks to these platforms the average consumer’s influence and strength has increased exponentially giving you more power to make your complaints public and heard.

2) We’ll Become Easier to Track

For anyone who has been searching online for somewhere to go on a Friday night you can find yourself at the mercy of this next digital trend for 2014. Searching for a “cocktail bar” in Google search will now provide you with a string of the closest local bars personalised to your previous searches, chrome bookmarks and (if you use gmail) links sent via email. This all sounds very convenient until you realise that there are vast amounts of private information being collected during your online user journey. Furthermore, as Google+ becomes a bigger factor both on Google and in subsidiary websites (such as YouTube), more of our social behaviour will be reviewed and stored.

The Good News

It does seem terrifying that this kind of information can be gathered but it also helps users both online and offline. Individuals are able to take responsibility for what they write online and provide greater visibility for new content. Furthermore, user reviews are providing reliable ways for people to find good quality businesses, particularly in the hospitality industry where highly-rated bars and restaurants are given prominence over others. This is not to say that we should be ignorant of the consequences, but we should be able to reap the rewards too.

3) Television Will Change Radically

Netflix has been named the “Breakthrough Brand of 2013” thanks to clever platform design and investment in exciting new television. With production split between reviving older series (such as Arrested Development) and money being pushed into new projects (such as the standout House of Cards) there is a lot to be said for a brand that was thought to be dead 24 months ago. However, the biggest thing Netflix has brought to the table is “binge watching”. You can now watch the entire series of Breaking Bad in one sitting without changing DVDs or setting up recordings, never before has there been so much content been available immediately to almost all consumers.

The question is, how does this affect the current television format? Well, there are many who believe that this year sparked the beginning of the end. As smart TVs adopted an “app-based” system and broadband speeds increase rapidly we have no need for weekly schedules and a wide variety of channels. The Discovery channel has already invested in developing apps for smart TVs and it won’t be long before the major players (such as Sky and Virgin) begin pushing out their versions. So will 2014 see the end of cable TV?

The Good News

Aside from the fact that this means more investment will be going into streamable television and smart TV apps, this also means consumers get a big win. Tablets, smartphones, laptops and smart TVs can all stream video content both live and on-demand. Programmes will become more diverse, get bigger budgets and most likely become the next main-stage for blockbuster broadcasting. Most importantly, it will be on your own time. Scheduled weekly episodes are likely to decrease in favour of releases that can be viewed at your own leisure and, thanks to linking via social media, finding out what is popular among your friends will be easier too.

4) We’ll Begin to Document Our Whole Lives

Google Glass may look odd but it’s a huge step towards us being able to document and store our lives comprehensively. Wearable technology is only just finding its feet with Samsung’s Gear and Nike’s Fuelband barely scratching the surface of the industry’s full potential. Many believe that the smartphone has already reached saturation point which means the advent of wearable technology may well be upon us. This means that our gadgets will be recording what we say, who we see, our life events and our interactions. It will be scanned and organised depending on its importance, who was there or the date and then easily viewable. Projects like Memoto are forging the path in this industry, which is hindered only by barriers of personal privacy, which are slowly eroding.

The Good News

Although this sounds scary, there are many benefits to wearable technology. Users will be able to conduct business in an entirely different manner. Meeting notes will be recorded and reviewed at a later date, introductory meetings and contractual negotiations can be scanned for details and legal purposes. In terms of personal use this will allow people to record big events in their lives, watch back footage from music performances and instantly provide information on social media feeds, news feeds, emails, texts and phonecalls.

2014: A Big Year to Come?

There is a lot to be excited about in 2014, and although unlikely to be the full fruition, many will take their first real steps into consumer markets. It will be easier to access content, document big events, become connected to others and voice your opinion. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how the markets change and how we change as the more tech-savvy generations move into their 30s/40s and begin to flex their spending power.

So where do you think you’ll be in a year’s time?

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