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It’s the time of year when lists are produced in their hundreds; wish lists, predictions and trends for 2012.
2012 is the year that marketers can affect change more than ever. The reality is that we don't always get what we want, sometimes we have to work that little bit harder to get it.
Here's my alternative list of 11 things that Santa will NOT be bringing you this Christmas, with some suggested further reading. Maybe it's a worth a glance over a glass of mulled wine.
1. The death of SEO
Santa would be a grumpy one to bring you this. Not a chance. I've seen how some of the UK's biggest SEO companies have adapted to the challenges that, let’s face it, Google sets continuously.
Advances in technology, SEO tools and opportunities created by the end of Yahoo! Site Explorer have actually breathed new life into the SEO blood stream. In 2012, clients will see more value from great SEO.
Read – Google Instant and SEO
2. More keyword data from Google
The numbers seem to be rising; now an estimated 20% of keyword referral data is not reported. This is a problem when looking at site statistics and analytics. It hurts the US and will roll out to EMEA in the next month or so into 2012.
Google says this is a privacy issue and is down to retargeting of sites, plus secure search on SSL. However, if you use Google Adwords you can have the data. Google say it is for security. Bad news if you want to use data for site analytics if you're not using Adwords services.
In 2012 we will really see if Google is moving to keep all user referral data away from SEOs, killing off rival retargeting companies and competitive ad networks at the same time.
Read - SSL and the experts view
3. A reduction in Google Market share
We all know Google’s not going to go away. Google’s expansion into other avenues such as display and social (with Google+) is a sure fire sign of its ability to flex muscles and make market decisions that have a very subtle, but detrimental, effect to what they consider low revenue stream channels.
Bing initially grabbed some market share, but recent figures suggest that Google grew to 65.6% of US market share with Yahoo! at 15.2% and Bing at 14.8%.
4. The year of mobile
It is already upon us as the diffusion of mobile marketing innovation spreads at a rapid pace. The smartphone has enabled mobile marketing to move from concept to deployment.
According to Google, 79% of smartphone owners use their mobiles to assist with shopping and 74% make a purchase as a result. 2012 will see some of the coolest innovations in digital coming from the mobile technology sector.
5. An end to digital media fragmentation
2011 was the year of fragmentation in digital marketing, from fragmentation of media in the search and display space through to the overcrowding and confusion in the social media world. 2012 will see further fragmentation in other sectors such as the SEO tool/vendor space and a revision of the specialist versus generalist debate.
6. An end to talent wars
Digital has always suffered from a lack of talent due to the immaturity of the market. However, as the market matures, people with diverse skill sets become more in demand.
As media and organisations integrate having just one core of specialism does not necessarily guarantee maximum return.
In some technical disciplines a degree of specialism is required. However, as search, social, mobile and display campaigns are often run in tandem, people really need to develop their skill sets in all areas of digital to remain top of the talent pool.
Read - The digital talent time bomb
7. An accurate measurement of social media
There have been some great advances in the measurement and attribution of social media in 2011. Huge strides are being taken to measure and show the value of interaction, particularly within Facebook.
Social media attribution places a value on any engagement using cluster based technologies that track 'Likes', purchases and such. From this you can attempt to measure both the viral nature of actions and conversions, while highlighting the key influencers.
However, social media by its very nature and its viral causality means it is difficult to truly measure its immense impact all of the time.
Read - Social media attribution
8. An end to cookie compliance issues
Last week the the ICO released its updated guidance for UK website owners. Although this is a comprehensive document that can be seen as a step in the right direction, it still does not address the underlining issue of educating users.
Until people truly understand the value of cookie tracking and remarketing, marketers will continue to face tough challenges in 2012.
Read - Cookie compliance
9. A truly integrated digital organisation
As marketers get their heads around multichannel attribution, 2012 will see a seismic shift in the integration of online marketing teams.
To do this organisations will need to adapt, restructure and manage talent across a number of different disciplines. The role of a digital marketing agency has changed and simply saying you have SEO, search, display, social media, email, and affiliate departments working with your offline and PR teams does not always mean you are good at integrating your market efforts.
In 2012 I hope clients can go to agencies and see SEO people sat with creative and social teams, PPC and display experts sat in ‘biddable media’ departments. Hot desks should be everywhere as people need to share knowledge and data across the whole organisation (on and offline). It’s human capital, almost a physical thing.
Read - Is the digital agency dead
10. The mega return for VCs
Digital has indeed held its own in the recession. 2011 saw a large number of acquisitions and a lot of consolidation, especially in the display area. VCs have seen this as a time to reinvest.
The key challenge for companies with funding is differentiation in crowded spaces. Mergers and acquisitions that consolidate digital channels may bear more fruit in the short term, and some VCs may have to be extra patient to see return on their investment.
Read - The Acqhire
11. This is for you to decide
These are only my opinions and there are many other things I have missed. Feel free to add more - maybe something relevant to ad networks or display? Any ideas are welcome.