Looking Ahead to 2012

by David Heitman

As we look ahead to 2012, we see a few trends that will likely be driving our industry and shaping the larger culture around us. Barring a global invasion by the Mayans, the following forces will certainly be in play:

Screens are Getting Blurred

Even as hi-def gets higher and def-ier, what the world is experiencing is the blurring of the four screens that define media consumption: television, computers, tablets and phones. (We see this statistically validated in the web traffic reports we run for our clients, with more and more visits coming from phones and tablets.) Developing any major new marketing initiative in 2012 will require a four-screen strategy. From day one of the design process, all four screens need to be accounted for and leveraged for maximum impact.

It’s Showtime!

Despite its proliferation ad nauseam on an increasing number of sites and covering the most bizarre and obscure topics—video content is still the straightest, shortest distance between two points: you and your audience.

While text can still attract the SEO-friendly eyes of Google (and, oh yeah, there are still some other search engines out there…I just can’t remember what they’re called), words on a printed or html page are struggling to hold the attention of both consumer and B2B audiences. A 30-second video beats a 300-word page every time. Plus Google is giving preference to keyword-tagged videos in its search results.

They Might Be Giants

The world of information, commerce, media and technology will increasingly be defined by the big four giants featured in a recent Fast Company magazine article: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. (Noticeably absent from that list are Microsoft, Comcast and many others). Amateur marketers and seasoned business professionals alike need only monitor and apply the Big Four’s strategies and tactics to be able to imitate some pretty safe formulas for success.

Reviving the Lost Art of Perusing

The odds of someone discovering something truly unexpected is diminishing daily. Pre-defined news feeds, the echo-chamber known as talk radio and context-based online ads may reach their intended audience, but they don’t awaken anyone to any new ideas. As we race to the eventual retinal-scan-driven personalized advertising of Minority Report, creative agencies like ours that figure out how to find new audiences for new ideas will be doing a great service to their clients.

Ink and Paper

The email flotsam that appears in your inbox every day is sad testimony to an increasingly less useful communications medium. Businesses large and small get lazy and justify their use of email on the basis of cost effectiveness and measurability. But just sending out an email for lack of anything better to do is about as creative as a keyword search on to punch up that PowerPoint you have to deliver in the next ten minutes.

This all adds up to a new resurgence of direct mail and printed communications as long as one’s list is on target and the content is relevant and creative. Also, because trade media publication address such narrowly defined B2B audiences who are interested in the subject matter of the publication, they still represent a good advertising buy.

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