awards-logoHaving made it to the shortlist for the 2012 Econsultancy Innovation Awards, it’s fair to say the people we’ve been interviewing this week know a thing or two about bright ideas.

Today we asked them to cast an eye back over the last twelve months and identify the innovations they feel have had the biggest effect on the marketing landscape.

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, so we also challenged them to gaze ahead and offer their opinions on the trends to watch in 2012…

Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of crossover, with mobile, video and social technologies all emerging as consistent trends to watch. 

While some technologies are still in their infancy, savvy marketers are starting to experiment with new channels as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

The expanding mobile market

The “Year of Mobile” may have been repeated to the point of cliché, but many contributors felt that 2011 was the year when mobile devices became ubiquitous. Concerns about multichannel attribution finally became a reality for marketers, while optimisation and platform relevance would increase in importance going forward.

Nishma Robb, Business Development & Marketing Director at I Spy Marketing summed this up nicely: 

In 2011 we were told that it was the year of mobile although we at I Spy thought that it was the year of the smartphone.  This year we think that it will be the year of multichannel integration on smartphones.

While many others commented on the expected expansion of the market in 2012. 

Maani Safa, Innovation Director at Somo talked about the role of tablets:

Looking ahead I believe there will be an explosion in tablet-first applications. To date the mobile space has predominantly focused on consumer markets. In the year ahead I am particularly interested in how mobile and tablet devices can be put to use within the enterprise.

Jonathan Horden, MD/COO at PrismaStar

The rise of the tablet; whether it’s Apple’s iPad or Amazon’s Kindle, innovation in tablet technology has been phenomenal in 2011 and has now bridged the gap from early adopter to main stream technology must have. Could these be the death of the laptop?

More efficient data tracking and use

Jonathan also felt that understanding the data setsprovided by multiple devices would be key to success in the future, a view echoed by a number of those we interviewed: 

The biggest trend has to be convergence, creating a unified online experience across whatever channel the consumer wants to interact with the ability to transfer that experience to any other media. This includes mobile phones, tablets, the PC at work, the laptop at home, calls to telesales or customer services and any in-store experience.

A shopper can browse for products on our in-store kiosks, transfer results to his home PC or mobile device, complete the transaction with a telesales operative, or any combination of the above! The entire experience is consistent and integrated across all channels.

Chris Ward,European MD at Kenshoo, and HSBC Expat’s Head of Marketing Lisa Wood also felt strongly about this: 

Chris Ward:

I think the biggest trend for 2012 will be consolidation. With multiple new channels emerging, marketers will want to consolidate all their activity on one platform/dashboard. It has become even more important now to be able to see the larger picture and understand how all the different marketing activities tie in together  to help achieve a goal.

Lisa Wood:

Increasingly businesses also need to view and manage all their digital activity in the wider context of the ‘digital marketing ecosystem’. Everything is interconnected.  

Paid media can launch a viral campaign based on owned content, generating earned media conversations and links, which drive traffic, improve search engine rankings and ultimately save money in paid media ads that can be reinvested.

Overlaying this will be the need for one analytics package that allows businesses to see the effects of digital marketing efforts across the ecosystem, and ultimately compare ROI of paid, owned and earned media using a common set of metrics.

The importance of video

lisa-woodLisa was one of many who believed in the growing importance of video next year, despite the problems presented by multiple platform deployment.

In addition, many believe that TV will once more move to the forefront for advertisers, thanks to connected technologies and increased integration.

Lisa explains:

Google TV was probably inevitable, but the fact that you can now use your mobile as a remote control for your TV when you’re on the move is a great innovation.  Increasingly I think we’ll see mobile devices being able to control all aspects of your life. 

3D TV is starting to really take-off and the fact that you’re going to be able to view 3D TV without glasses will mean this innovation is more than a fad.  Couple this with the latest camera gadgets that allow you to shoot your own 3D film and this becomes a really interesting area.

As founder of video agency Adjust Your Set, Chris Gorell Barnes is well placed to comment on increasing importance of video:

Video will be everywhere. So prevalent has video become as the pre-eminent communication tool of our age that Cisco has claimed that by 2015, 1m minutes of video will cross the internet every second.

The next 12 months we’ll see a rise in communication and engagement using video across multiple channels. There will also be a rise in mobile as a marketing channel, particularly mobile vouchers and these devices working together, engaging with content that will lead to sales for brands both via e-commerce and in-store.

CriteoMichael Steckler, Managing Director, Northern Europe for Criteo told us: 

Connected TV/Video online, driven by both social applications and devices the way we consume TV will never be the same again, morphing into sophisticated applications, which allow you to interact in real-time.  

Miso and Zeebox are a couple of examples of companies that are really taking the lead in the social video space. Video is an area where we will probably see more consolidation.

With $160bn to play for globally, it’s an extremely hot area – and much like display advertising, we may start to see a divergence between video advertising that has a more direct response (utilising data, multiple creative and real-time user feedback) and brand advertising which will be driven more by the content experience, engaging formats and new distribution channels.

Personalisation and integration

Overall, respondents felt that 2012 would see an increased leap into multichannel, with more accurate data attribution and tracking combining with increased use of mobile technology to create a more socially driven experience. 

Dan Robins is Head of Paid Search at Carat / iProspect:

I think 2012 will be the first year digital properly bridges the gap into offline. Carat has proven the link between search and in store sales, Google is releasing more voucher-type products, QR codes have really exploded despite many years in the doldrums to name a few, and I think advertisers are no longer able to view their online channel in isolation.

Added to this I think digital marketers will finally make the break through into exactly how to get to grips with attribution modelling. For all too long, we’ve been talking about it as being important to look into but the models have been slow to produce, unwieldy and really speaking didn’t show to much of use.

As cross-channel technologies such as Ignition One and Marin develop and their use grows, more advertisers will find it easier to build cross-channel attribution models and actually put them to good use, driving efficiency in their activity. 

This increased ability to track consumer behaviour looks set to transform campaigns, making it possible for companies to provide truly integrated, optimised ‘customer journeys’ for the first time.

This in turn is driving a remodelling of display and targeted marketing messages. 

Deepak Jha VP of Commercial at tour booking site  isango! Covered all of this in his response:

Mobile. As more attractions and tour organisers start accepting paperless vouchers, tablets become more sophisticated and roaming charges come down- the battle will shift from search to bookings.

Social media. Integration of facebook and the trading websites so that brands can influence customers based on the behaviours and attitudes of their friends in the reference group.

Globalisation: The ability to adapt the business to local context in emerging markets like BRICS (Brasil, India, Russia, China, South Africa) and MENA (Middle East and North Africa). We rolled out Love Orlando Tickets to Brazil recently and got an excellent response, however there were many local contextual factors that we had to address on the way.”

What are your thoughts on the coming  year?

Do you think that increased globalisation and multiple touchpoint campaigns will increase, or do you feel that personalised journeys are still out of reach on traditional platforms like TV despite new interactive and integrated technology? We’d love to hear your opinions in the comments. 

As we draw closer to this year’s Innovation Awards, we’ll continue to post responses from our shortlist on a variety of innovative topics.

Click here to see this year’s full shortlist and book your table for our awards ceremony, taking place in London on February 23rd. For further information you can also download our regularly updated Innovation Report