1 / Brands will juggle their presence in the Splinternet.
The internet will continue to splinter into a public open web and semi-walled gardens, as surfing the web is often replaced by running apps or viewing pages on Facebook. Applications and fan pages are popular because they allow marketers to control and simplify consumer interactions. However, brands will increasingly need to tend multiple 'gardens', often building different applications for specific platforms to ensure they are both relevant and present everywhere their consumers want to encounter them.
2 / Evolution of online shopping as augmented reality technologies bridge intangibility gap.
Despite some remaining fears around disclosure of personal information, online shopping will continue to grow strongly. Many countries will follow the US in their enthusiastic uptake of collective buying services like Groupon. Fuelled by their love of a bargain, there are currently more than 500 of these sites in China, though many are expected to fade into obscurity. In the UK, mobile shopping apps will be particularly popular, while in India we expect to see growth in online travel ticket purchasing that helps consumers bypass long queues at stations. Globally we also expect brands to use innovative new technologies, including augmented reality, to help bridge the 'intangibility gap' that exists because consumers can't touch and feel a product they purchase online.
3 / Online display explodes out of its box.
Marketers will increasingly attempt to deliver immersive and engaging branding messages within the ad itself, using expandable formats and interactive features which often replicate part of the experience of a microsite or social media page. In line with this, display formats are constantly transforming and many new formats are growing in popularity including: double-teaming, where planners combine multiple formats on the same page; social titbits where banners include a taste of live social activity such as a Twitter feed; and slide-up formats, which use small but intriguing imagery to capture attention, and then expand to take over larger portions of the screen.
4 / Viral video is no longer an afterthought.
Viral potential is now an increasingly important element of digital campaign planning. More readily available viral measurements - such as Millward Brown's viral potential pre-test and Kantar Video's in-market tracking - allow marketers to better plan, monitor and adjust accordingly. However, as each new viral hit raises the bar of consumer expectation, advertisers may need to be more distinctive than ever. To counter this, more advertisers will promote their ads in a viral environment, particularly since our recent YouTube research shows that paid online promotion generates a 'free' incremental viral bonus over and above the paid views.
5 / More 'made for web' video content.
With online video advertising spend in a high growth phase, marketers globally are likely to invest more effort optimising their online video creative in 2011. Dynamic Logic research has shown that repurposed TV ads can effectively generate awareness, but made-for-web video tends to be better at driving persuasion.
6 / More mobile eyeballs.
The improved performance capabilities of mobile devices mean that more people are online, more of the time (there is almost a 'presumption of connectedness'). Marketers will seize this opportunity, particularly since newer devices enable better mobile ad experiences. Mobile advertising budgets will increase significantly over 2010 and the brand impact achieved from mobile will continue to out-perform online through 2011.
7 / Brands find their places with geo-location.
Today, geo-location is all about 'checking in', but 2011 will provide a more rewarding experience once the user has checked in, and we also expect to see a development in "check out" features (e.g. suggestions of where to go next). We also expect to see growth in apps such as Shopkick that automatically award points/promotions upon entering a store. The arrival of Facebook Places alongside services such as Foursquare means that more brands will use location as an app feature, as a communication platform, a fan page feature or as the key to a deal, possibly tied in with loyalty card data. Brands which don't have locations of their own will seek out appropriate tie-ups.
8 / Search: increasing personal, mobile and impactful.
Consumers will trade privacy for relevance. Links with social media profiles, search history and behavioural segmentation will allow greater search relevance for users prepared to share this information with search engine providers. Mobile search will make further gains as developers take full advantage of the unprecedented breadth of information available and consumers realise the benefit of searching via applications such as Google Maps. Search results will also become more visually impactful, increasing the need for marketers to understand the brand impact of search.
9 / Gaming on the move.
The recent launches of Sony's Move and Microsoft's Kinect have breathed new life into the Playstation and Xbox consoles, and will drive further innovation in game design during 2011. Meanwhile, casual gaming, driven strongly by the capabilities of Apple's iphone and ipod touch, is likely to grow further as these gamers continue to feed their app-snacking habits, and developers take full advantage of the larger ipad interface. Growth in the use of social games is also likely assuming developers such as Zynga can build on the success of FarmVille and Mafia Wars. Research from Dynamic Logic has revealed that brands can benefit from in-game branding where it's seen to be relevant, and we predict this to be a growth area in 2011.
10 / Social graphs will make targeting more relevant.
Relevant social integration can delight consumers. A recent Firefly Millward Brown study has revealed that people are looking for brands in social media to be more relevant to their needs. Consumers will remain active in the biggest social network (Facebook) because so many contacts are there, but they may increasingly be more engaged in other niche networks that play to their particular interests. Facebook's scale provides excellent targeting opportunities for brands, but to really be effective, sophisticated algorithms are needed to make sense of the complex relationships between people.
11 / The battle for online privacy will intensify.
Marketers will make progress on the development of online transparency frameworks as consumers are increasingly empowered to look under the hood. They will avoid regulatory measures to protect online privacy by enabling users to manage their own profiles and by being clearer about their data models. Despite these efforts however, the battle will continue between regulators and the industry about the scope of personal information which forms the building blocks of online identity.