As 2012 draws to a close, we look back at an eventful year that has seen more innovation and opportunity in the digital space. Beyond took a massive step forward with the welcome addition of Roger and his awesome Acquisition and Engagement team. Not only does our agency have the ability to discover insights other agencies can only dream of, plus the ability to design and build amazing content, but we can also now create the conversations needed to draw in eyeballs and create engagement.
2013 is going to be an exciting year for Beyond, but also the digital world we live in.
So what will happen in 2013?
The largest area for innovation is clearly mobile. It offers entrepreneurs and brands an open space for innovation. What is staggering is how slow many brands have been to adopt optimized experiences based on the multitude of devices and screen sizes that we are using today. This coming year we’ll see massive device adoption. The question will be, will brands have the strategy to get the most from them?
The smart brands will be thinking about their content portfolios and how they fit in with the way we are using our connected devices, plus how they fit into our lives.
There are so many factors to getting it right - such as: what type of content is need?; where do we place it?; and how do we generate engagement around it? No easy task, but brands that do it right will start with a data derived strategy and not by taking a punt.
The key areas of change this year will be:
1. Responsive design – Your content needs to be optimized for the devices we use.
We all know we don't live in a one device world. Today, I’ve written this blog on my Mac, but I spent 40 minutes this morning on my iPhone reading the news, checking my favorite blogs and doing a quick check-in on Facebook. The way we are consuming content is changing and brands need to step up to the challenge of meeting the needs of their audience.
In 2013 we’ll see more brands adopt responsive experiences. User experience design will be an ever increasing part of the content creation process as the variable inputs for different device types increase.
What devices does my audience have?
How are they discovering content on those devices?
What’s the device good at and how can we take advantage?
What do users want from the brand on this device?
How should the brand be interacting - often in real time situations with the user on this device?
Supporting devices can be expensive, so what should we be supporting?
There are so many questions that our multi-device world raises.
Over the past two and a half years since Beyond was created, we have focused on developing research methodology that enables us to discover insights that will deliver a better product and a deeper connection with our client’s audience. These reports have been helping to shape our clients digital, advertising and social media strategies.
The data that we mine really helps us understand more than just a top-level perspective for a strategy, it also helps us with the UX, Design and content creation of a site.
I’m pretty sure every company out there can do a better job with leveraging location data to enhance their services. Not just the supply of data as part of their service, but also the collection and representation of that data.
Content today is often static, but it is not always that relevant to what I’m looking for on a mobile device because even though my device probably knows where I am (if I allow it), it does not know my intent in the same context as if I’m using a PC.
Let’s think about a search example. If I’m sitting at home and I type in “iPad” into Google, I’ll get search results for Apple’s website, blogs, ecom stores. If I’m out and about and I type in “iPad,” the context or my intent may be different. I may be looking to buy an iPad in a physical store near me, or I may be looking for a place to get my iPad repaired. Why are the results so limited or not smart enough to know what I want in the real world? Currently we can find the information, but it's not easy and requires a number of interactions. To me it should feel easier and more customized.
The same tension can be true for how we want to interact with brands in a mobile context. Brands need to understand how users want to interact with their business when they are on the move.
Location data is going to be a driver of mobile innovation. Technologies like geo-fencing will gain ground this year.
3. Mobile Startups
My favorite social network is Instagram. I spend 90% of my personal online time on my iPhone and Instagram is the perfect mobile social network for me. I LOVE IT. It gives me a view into people’s lives that I struggle to get from a Facebook post or Tweet. A great and simple innovation.
Google is doing a brilliant job of cranking out apps that are taking over my iPhone. Each provides an invaluable service to me. I used Google Goggles the other day for the first time. Simply amazing. Take a picture of virtually any product and Google will tell you where you can buy it. A handy tool when you see something you like.
Even though there are millions of mobile apps, I see a real growth in mobile startups solving real world problems. Not just about creating content, but creating solutions that turn our mobile into an essential tool - and more than a just content consumption device.
How we meet up, plan our time, find things, connect, chat, play, work, contribute to our communities all have the scope to be revolutionized by the tiny device in our pockets and we’ll see some great innovation in 2013.
4. Hardware Innovation
Hardware will be another big area for innovation in 2013. If you spend a few minutes on Kickstarter you’ll see a whole range of technology startups that are proposing hardware interfaces that can be connected to your mobile - bridging the gap from our digital worlds to the physical.
Currently our digital worlds are ring fenced, kept on a small screen either at home or in our pockets. Our digital world is really valuable to us, but hardware innovations will enable that world to blend into our real world actions.
Enabling us to learn, pay, like things, personalize products and get custom in-store experiences. 2013 has the potential to be transformative year in how our digital and physical worlds collide.
Mobile has added a level democracy for innovators. Big companies are slow to embrace change, but the consumer is hungry for it. This paves the way for the entrepreneur. The innovator.
I see 2013 being an exciting year that will see our mobiles do and be worth more to brands and I’m excited to help our clients get their heads around it and provide some amazing creative solutions to help them take advantage.
Bring it on 2013…