Despite developing slowly, trends are timeless. Talking about the year gone by, there were numerous predictions and forecast for 2012 trends. Let us put a crisp spotlight on a few which developed to become timeless, and some that could not embark on a successful journey of the digital world.
FLOP 1: Daily deal sites will skyrocket for next few years
In recent months, India witnessed a number of smaller sites either being acquired or going completely silent. It appears that small players in the daily deal space fail to gain customer loyalty and are not able to sustain in this highly competitive market. With heavy customer acquisition costs, it’s a realisation that there is no brand loyalty built between customers and their deal sites brand (It is all about the deal, not who is offering it).
As an overall industry analysis, India witnessed that not enough businesses are coming back to daily deals to make the industry sustainable in the long run as predicted earlier. However, among various businesses vertical in deal sites, let me mention, health and services, and special events were the most successful of the lot.
FLOP 2: SEO is dead, social will replace SEO
Though I firmly believe in the power of social, at the fundamental level, social remained noisy this year for Indian brands. Social platforms rise and fall. Think about Orkut, Hi5, Google+ and many others who are still trying to sustain themselves.
Here is a hard truth - As the social networks gain leverage, they become more closed off and charge you to reach the audience you already paid to build. Companies practicing white hat techniques for a robust SEO saw an increase in organic traffic, which gave them reduced bounce rates and good goal conversions as well. A well-practiced SEO have turned timeless for a business’ digital presence, both online and mobile, and I don’t see it being replaced sooner.
FLOP 3: QR codes are the future
Like most technology fans, I am always willing to test any new technology that promises to simplify my life. From last couple of years, those little QR squares seemed to open a world of opportunities and potential. But, after using them for quite a long time, my perspective has changed.
It’s seen that Indian’s honeymoon with QR codes is getting short-lived. The initial rush that I had received from trying to scan QR codes on my device had lost its yearn. I have noticed that many Indians have started to view QR codes as a barrier to added information with not much substance. I believe lack of education and a perceived dearth of value from QR codes may be two of the reasons mobile QR codes are not clicking with Indians. However, let me give credit to few brands such as Mid Day, Ford Figo and Cybermedia, who were able to pull this off quite well.
FLOP 4: Bing will be a new BIG
Google will own search engine marketing space for good: Yahoo and MSN’s search merger a couple of years back was the last effort to take on Google, a long-time player of the pay-per-click ad space. After making a big buzz and promise at launch, ‘Bing’ failed to capture search market share that Microsoft was looking for. And, with Google continuing to improve its search product with developments such as Google Instant, this is a race that Yahoo and MSN search products don’t seem to go easy with.
HIT 1: London Olympics 2012 will be a big digital event
Yes, initially there was a lot of negativity in regards to the London Games. Terrorist worries, transport worries, hoteliers predicting empty rooms and various others. But with the entire heavy buzz, when London Games went live on digital, they indeed became the most powerful tool to lure people to watch content on traditional screens and follow the mega event.
It also turned lucrative for brands that had the foresight to capitalise on them by planning in advance. A lot of brands tested the integration of new social channels with marketing campaigns and messaging to reach new audiences. Finally, London Olympics 2012 definitely was the first true ‘Digital Games’, and perhaps the very first ‘Social Game’ in a true sense.
HIT 2: Marketers embracing mobile
This year, India saw many brands setting up mobile interface via mobile friendly responsive websites or creating a mobile app. Many e-commerce brands and traditional brands have turned toward mobile. Claiming business on mobile platform saw a significant rise with marketers embracing mobile, with Google showing local results, claiming business on Google maps and many local search engine/ directories aided this rise. Many banks have embraced mobile as a communication and top of mind recall strategy. With TRAI going hard on push SMS and OBD calls, marketers are finding smarter and new ways to reach audiences on mobile; focus, however, is on youth.
HIT 3: More internal digital/ social specialists
I think this is the year where India based companies saw the value in having a digital media specialist on their team. I don’t mean a junior manager to manage your Twitter handle and post daily updates on Facebook, but a senior member of the marketing team who can work across platforms, strategise content, think across the digital vehicles to solve marketing problems and recognise new opportunities to market on the social web.
HIT 4: More businesses will outsource content creation
It is true that as a business practice, this prediction has sailed through. As social media is becoming important, stretched marketing teams are continuing to struggle with adding content creation everyday. 2012 witnessed a lot of advertising agencies taking charge and filling the need to create amazing and consumable content for brands. As social media matures, efficiency and depth of consumption are becoming an important factor.
India saw a continuous effort this year by brands to publish content which starts positive conversation and which is sharable. Brands this year saw an agreement in need to engage with tailored, customer focused and relevant content in order to stand out.
Therefore, for an augmented functioning of the business, it is the need of the hour for marketers to not only understand what the consumer requires, but also analyse in depth about the current business scenario.
The author is Chief Executive Officer of Reliance Entertainment Digital.