2009 was a year riddled with economic crisis, the phenomenal success of Twitter and Facebook, and disillusionment over a panoply of existing economic models. Now it’s time to pause and reflect on what bounties, pitfalls and trends 2010 will bring.
The following is a kind of summary for the year to come, a compilation based on market changes and insights, we at agency Vanksen (offices in Paris, Luxembourg, Geneva and New York) came across over the course of ’09, taking into account executions we managed for major brands that entrusted us with their business, and exchanges made amidst the 70-plus conferences and seminars at which we’ve spoken around the world:
50% of US users already spend more time online than on any other media. Of this percentage, fewer and fewer engage with brand sites; rather, they flock in growing numbers to social networks — the sites they also prefer for sharing viral content with peers.
Of those social networks, Facebook will continue to enjoy the lion’s share of traffic. In December 2009 it hit the 350-member milestone and is expected to surpass between 600-700 million by the end of 2010. Its global prevalence and staggering statistics — 50% of users spend about 20 minutes on the site per day on average — increasingly pit Facebook against free email services like Hotmail or Gmail. It also erodes, to some extent, the value of Google, since so much of its content escapes indexing.
In Asia, particularly Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, Facebook has already dethroned Friendster. Provided it improves the quality of its photo storage service, it could definitively also dethrone flickr. (Some argue it already has.)
But really, in its current state it needs little more than to launch improved analytics and a “Facebook Management Solutions” tool, something like a CMS that advertisers and agencies can use to build and manage advanced Facebook pages simply and profitably for brands. In the meantime, a cottage industry has cropped up to fill that void: keep an eye on Sprout, Involver, Wildfire and — for French users — TigerLily.
With over 22 million unique visitors per month, Twitter will also continue to develop — and, crucially, to differentiate itself from the Facebook Newsfeed while pursuing monetization strategies (subscription, premium service models or advertising). A sale to Microsoft or Google, just two of its new search partners, may also be in the runes.
YouTube is increasingly proving to be a true alternative to television, enjoying over 100 million members in the United States alone, and contending with such rivals as Hulu, Playstation3, Xbox or iTunes — all of which seek to be the monetizable platform for video. Part of their success stems from their “on-demand” quality (also illustrated by the success of France’s M6Replay) versus “live” TV content — a constraint that may well sound laughable when, in the future, we explain to our children that, in our day, a favored TV show could only be watched on a fixed hour.
The majority of social media sites are in the process of developing or launching APIs that enable other sites or applications to connect to them, resulting in more and more integration between varied media. Despite efforts to remain transparent, these services are also confronted by the rage of advertisers and agencies when, at year’s end, their APIs fail to support their load or, worse, change suddenly — resulting in bugs or making applications unavailable, sullying whatever integrated marketing efforts they were part of. A true roadmap of future changes for developers will prove indispensable for such services.
Considering that, over the long-term, we’ll all be connected (and thus “social”), the phrase “social media” will have less and less relevance.
Social Games like FarmVille by Zynga, Habbo, The Sims or Rolando and FieldRunners (via mobile) are going to explode, availing interesting monetization paths that advertisers can start to exploit. Inventory for ad space is still growing exponentially, but base prices for CPM and display ads aren’t expected to rise … unless analytics of their impact on online sales improves.
It will get harder and harder for internet users to update the panoply of networks in which they’ve terraced their lives, or even effectively track their own data in the sea of information available in each. Syndication and aggregation tools (like Posterous) help keep sites updated in one click, relegating them all into streams regurgitating the same information. Faced with this kind of “infobesity,” users will start using social networks to filter information that is modified and personalized based on the profile pages upon which it will appear (Facebook Connect is already used by over 80,000 sites to help do essentially that: see The Prototype Experience), as well as past activity (behavioral targeting) and centers of interest (sponsored links).
In a world regulated by the tyranny of ultra-transparence and near-instant recommendations (both positive and negative), the web will definitively become the primary determining factor in purchasing decisions both online AND offline. The role of expert and influencer will be more important than ever, and with it, personal reputation.
We’ll also see the professionalization of the blogosphere, a blogger-orchestrated movement to demonstrate their influence, as well as the quality of their audiences, to both advertisers and agencies (“influence” in this case being defined by both reputation AND audience). Being connected with other bloggers is insufficient to be considered influential (that said, Wikio ranking will have to revisit its classification model to more or less maintain its credibility). Having a lot of followers or traffic isn’t enough either; if that were the case, aspiring bloggers could just deluge their sites with photos of naked women, or better yet, start a “splog” — a traffic-inflater that automatically republishes RSS feeds merely as an excuse to display ads.
Moving forward, brands that use blogs for campaigns will want to measure the audience that actually sees those efforts; that is to say, they won’t necessarily be interested in measuring a blog’s total audience. To track the user sentiment, they will likely use available tools or appropriately-equipped agencies, like BuzzParadise or Vanksen, knowing such resources will help them to avoid the occasional awkward media catastrophe (consider Honda, Domino’s Pizza or Belkin). These options also let them outsource the time necessary to develop an authentic relationship with “influential blogs.”
Because of growing promotional interest in such networks, the European Legislature and the United States’ Federal Trade Commission is keeping a closer eye on brand participation and sponsorship on blogs and social networks, in hopes of avoiding abuse of trust or outright deception. Proper disclosure (“This post sponsored by…”) is now a given (which is great). Frankly, we should expect the same standards from traditional media — it’s a bit odd to focus on how perks or money may dampen blogger integrity when you consider the incredible gifts offered to journalists of beauty magazines, for example.
More links will form between the “micro people” of the blogosphere/web and traditional media. We’ll rediscover bloggers & vloggers/podcasters like Ask a Ninja, Gary Vaynerchuk, Gary Vaynerchuk, Lauren Luke, on TV (at least on cable) or in the press — not merely just as guests but as moderators or active contributors to the storytelling process. Moreover, certain ‘net-based thought leaders already have such a significant audience that they don’t need to play nice with other media; they’ve effectively become their own. Finally, social media will see the rising prominence of content produced by minorities — which can hardly be called minorities anymore.
The influence of women is responsible for 75% of purchasing decisions. They also represent more than 50% of social media users, meaning their talent for relationships and communication are among the more definitive assets in the 2.0 world… The popularity of bloggers that cater to the beauty and fashion industries hit boiling point in the last several years, introducing many to the coveted front rows of haute couture fashion shows over the course of 2009. Beyond that it’s also worth noting that this population — often ignored by the majority of markers — demands a unique marketing approach. We’ve also witnessed the arrival of social sites targeted specifically to tough-to-access niche populations, including BlackClub, AZN Community and the like.
The barrier between our reality and our virtual lives is blurring. We internet-surf while watching television, we run searches from our mobile phones; even common objects are getting connected (be that via Nabaztag, RFID chips or APIs). In 2010, everything will be digital: a single medium, a single machine, composed of multiple points of access, as posited by Kevin Kelly. We’ll also see growing numbers of sales outlets outfitted with interactive screens, innovative interfaces, holograms and augmented reality features.
The majority of agencies and advertisers still have a long way to go in terms of developing complete digital fluency. Some content themselves with having learned 1.0 techniques (cross-linking, email blasts, banner ads). 2010 will force them to update their knowledge base in a manner both fundamental and profound — that is, if they want to remain relevant to consumers. It’s nearly impossible to ignore the potential of the web; basic approaches, like CPM-based banner campaigns, have begun to manifest glaring limits.
The plot thickens: instead of stacking new techniques onto existing ones, brands will have to completely reconsider their basic in-house marketing strategies. This is because broadcast advertising — that is, bombarding users with messages that merely talk at them instead of engaging them — is only becoming less and less effective. It’s no longer a question of conveying a message to the right target market; it’s a matter of influencing an ecosystem and building a visible and solid e-reputation. The social, increasingly semantic web now enables users to filter information, remix it, create it (UGC or “user-generated content”), relay it (“going viral”) or merely respond to it (leaving comments, broadcasting good/bad experiences on Twitter, and using other feedback channels).
Many marks make the mistake of believing that they are popular when they did little else but buy and exploit the attention of users (using irritating, interruptive advertising methods). Look at the web as an attention economy, where the audience is worth more to advertisers than the sum of what they’ve purchased (earned media VS paid media). Moving forward, it will be imperative to offer potential clients value-added content or services that essentially “authorizes” us access to their lives. Supplement your twinkling banners by considering the advantages of incorporating atomized content (virtual goods, widgets, etc.). Experiential and engagement-based marketing should take precedence over mere reach-and-diffusion methods. Building campaign buzz is by necessity tied to a relationship with the user — either positive or negative, so think strategically about what kind of collaborative structure you want to build between users and your brand. Seth Godin asserts social media is difficult to comprehend — and thus penetrate — for brands because they are composed of “processes, not events.” Brands that provide the best experience, the best service (don’t be afraid of going freemium!), or the best content will attract not only the attention of users but utterly transform them into evangelists ready to pass their messages to friends of their own volition. For example, in the spirit of sharing her passion, indie cellist Zoe Keating offers some of her tracks to users as free downloads; she now has over 1.3 million fans on Twitter. Think of it as karma: to build credit within a community, and thus solicit the aid of its members, you must first make positive contributions. Moreover, why relegate yourself exclusively to interruptive advertising when engaging, enjoyable media like advertainment — advergames, video games, responsive branded content — are so much more effective at delivering a well-articulated message?
Brands must facilitate their own appropriation and distribution by relinquishing a share of control to users, which will ideally reward them with enthusiasm and positive traction in the world of social media. Whether or not you want to seize that opportunity, users are already sharing their real opinions — positive or negative — over the web. Refusing to participate in those conversations means giving them 100% authority to define your position to their peers and to others. This transition will prove especially difficult for the luxury industry, though to be fair, some high-end brands are making steps in the right direction: artofthetrench.com (3.7M photos viewed to date!), for example, is powered by 40% of parent company Burberry’s marketing budget. LVMH used Facebook to host a live runway show and launched an insider magazine, NowNess, that caters to self-described fashionistas and encourages them to follow its goings-on via Twitter and other social sites. Other brands, like Uniqlo, have long incorporated digital and social characteristics into the fabric of their core marketing efforts.
All this represents a change from using long-term campaigns with a single “big idea,” to managing long-term customer relationship supplemented by multiple creative ideas and experiments. (The best part about this is that the total budget you once spent exclusively on TV for a year can often feed three or four quality digital executions.)
Creative and animated work by the online community, branded Facebook pages, brand blogs, branded content, banner ads (either CPC or CPM), affiliate marketing, Critéo-style retargeting, viral video seeding, applications, personalized viral videos (where you can incorporate a person’s name or have a celebrity personality “call” a friend), widgets, virtual goods, advergames or social referencing will represent the majority of efforts from which ROI will have to be gauged. Flash-based subsites, display banner ads, and faux “social” sites without real engagement components will be relegated to the dustbin.
The primary obstacle to this evolution will be the resistance to change by advertisers due in part to a lack of competence or familiarity with these new tools. Brands and agencies will be obligated to make significant investments in development and experimental programs if they want to remain competitive in the markets of tomorrow. How do you teach clients to develop social relationships when the vast majority of 2.0 sites are blocked within their walls? Such efforts to “protect” employee productivity make brands less equipped for changes in sentiment, or updates in trends, than the average online user! In his 1993 book Post Capitalist Society, Peter Druker argues that one of the most important challenges for organizations in a knowledge society will be to build systematic practices to manage auto-transformation. Seventeen years after the fact, the truth in those words is beginning to manifest itself.
We also drastically underestimate the resistance of most offline-oriented senior-level workers in the ad industry. It’s going to be difficult to show them that their work lies not in directing films or shooting gorgeous photos but to develop a skillset in interactivity, experience-based multimedia and ergonomic technology (including more intuitive graphical user interfaces). If they refuse to address this knowledge deficit, these so-called “experts” will find themselves falling behind young upstarts, no matter how many years of experience they’ve clocked in or how many Lions they’ve collected. Take at the look at the majority of agencies that have led digital over the course of the last ten years: there are few major advertising agencies among them. Sadly, as Publicis demonstrated this year, they content themselves to repurchase so-called “pure-player” agencies for a king’s sum, ostensibly to maintain contemporary relevance — but continue to prioritize traditional efforts. Some years later, the spirit and vitality that made those small, lean agencies worth buying are stamped out. Why? Traditional agencies simply can’t do digital, at least according to a recent study released by Forrester: 23% of advertisers surveyed admitted they don’t think traditional agencies are capable of conquering digital; worse still, 46% don’t even consider them consider them competent in that arena. It isn’t entirely a problem of mindset; the existing organizational and cost structure of traditional agencies is simply incompatible with the rhythm and responsiveness digital requires.
One possible alternative lies in recruiting digital stars, but their limited number and high demand for them makes them difficult to attract. In any event, bringing a handful of experts to an organization that doesn’t, at its heart, want to evolve, is insufficient. I’d even wager that, well before the organization decides to call it quits, the experts themselves will tire of “evangelizing in the desert.” At the recruitment level, many advertisers and agencies will also find themselves disillusioned by the number of self-proclaimed “2.0 experts,” glorified bloggers whose “influence,” however significant, ultimately doesn’t transform them into marketing professionals equipped to work on large accounts.
Conversely, the offline world remains an indispensable element to the overall marketing picture. Digital agencies, some of which can be as myopic as their traditional peers, will have to adapt beyond a 100% web-based approach. We’ll even start seeing some digital agencies develop their offline chops more quickly than traditional agencies will learn the inverse (and a pity, given that the latter’s had ten years to catch up). A few of the more innovative digital agencies worth observing include Vanksen, RGA, Barbarian Group, FirstBorn or BigSpaceShip also follows in the steps of the incendiary Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The latter has managed to navigate the offline, digital, buzz-generating and social media scenes with great dexterity and a markedly transmedia approach.
Crucially, social media and other digital efforts shouldn’t be managed by one specific department; there’s no such thing as strictly “online” or “offline” consumers. It’s more advisable to develop an approach that’s both global and agnostic in terms of media (contrary to the efforts of traditional agencies, whose marketing mix often results in internal political wars between siloed departments for bigger cuts of the budget, as opposed to researching how best to allocate resources for the client).
It’s also important to focus more energy on incorporating nuanced metrics and overall measurement of ROI. The panoply of digital analytics options available today has left us in the habit of stocking up tools without actually using them, or even investing time in learning their capabilities or limitations. Glaring questions remain for brands that have invested valuable resources in winning more fans, followers and RSS readers: where’s the return on investment? — and how do you even measure it?
In the future, analytics tools will adapt the Postrank model, measuring both the audience of a given site as well as the popularity/propagation capability of social media. Toward that end, bit.ly recently announced a Pro version of its service. Observing the usefulness of the bit.ly model in a 140-character world, Google launched its own URL-shortening tool (which will likely be integrated into Google Analytics and Feedburner, for RSS feed-tracking). It’s only a matter of time before Facebook releases its own tool for more sophisticated tracking of key performance indicators.
How many brands make practical use of the statistics they glean from their own sites (on the occasions they have analytics implemented at all)? Just taking the time to do this would better equip them against the machinations of many media agencies, which in my experience are among the least professional web “experts.” A short survey of their stock characteristics include inflated claims of expertise, “turnkey” recommendations (that is, proposing options that worked for previous clients without adapting it to your unique brand environment), loose and shady negotiations, a junior staff in constant rotation, and imprecise, misguided advice — all of which culminate in a completely ineffective media strategy for unwitting brands that have often already been locked into a contract.
In 2008, print media received 20% of ad dollars for only 8% of time spent; in contrast, digital investments clocked 8% of ad spend despite garnering 29% of media time. Oddly enough, advertisers continue to pay for display ads positioned in non-visible areas (like the bottom fold of a webpage) — plus, the process of launching a banner campaign is less efficient than the effort is worth. In lieu of banners, brands should focus on developing intuitive site support, developing ever-more-personal email campaigns … and, at the very least, implementing a different series of reporting methodologies for each effort if the company does not want to build its own traffic-measuring tool.
In the realm of mixed media, serious updates of old (and poor) marketing tactics are over the horizon. Consider promising new offers like agency Fullsix’s “@lternative TV,” which is positioned to put outrageously-paid TV ad actors out of work; or Google tools that aim, simply enough, to cut the middleman out of ad sales. (For its part, Google Adplanner may well put Nielsen NetRatings out of a job.) Clearly there will be blood — especially after advertisers realize they’ve pissed away various opportunities to innovate in the past few years and don’t really have much more time.
Naturally, there remains the question of how best to measure the offline and in-store effects of online activity…
According to US-based Forrester, 59% of US advertisers plan to increase their digital budgets — at the expense of offline executions. As a result, online marketing spend will hit $55 billion in 2014. In addition to ZenithOptimedia, JPMorgan and others, Forrester also predicts a rise in online marketing spend exceeding 10% for 2010 alone. Foreshadowing the gigantic shift that will move marketing priorities from offline to online, Pepsi decided not to purchase TV ad space at this year’s Super Bowl, opting instead to focus on online investments. And in the United Kingdom, the internet was the premier medium on which advertisers focused their budgets in 2009 — even beating TV! (Based on gross ad spend, not net.)
Video ads are also coming into their own. E-marketer says they’ll enjoy a 40% rise; video podcasts, like The Wine Library by Gary Vaynerchuk, for example, already attract over 240,000 visitors/month). Live video use will also increase with help from services like uStream. Use of the video format will also be stimulated by the development of 3G for mobile, not to mention proliferation of simple devices for recording and publishing videos (the Flip Cam and iPhone 3GS, to name just two).
Hot topics this year will include buzz monitoring and how brands can manage their e-reputation on the web and on social media. The number of monitoring and analytics offerings dedicated to social media (including Radian6, Sysomos, Linkfluence … and, of course, VanksenWatch) will explode, leaving hundreds of tools to choose from in their wake. Eventually, however, the market for these tools will consolidate itself; few contenders will be able to make necessary financial commitments in indexing, storage, multilingual capabilities or — crucially — semantic analysis (automated in whole or in part over the long-term), in order to stay competitive.
The majority of brands will seek solace in a solution for buzz measurement and ROI; many will be disappointed by what they find. But it’s PR agencies — at least, those that haven’t acclimated to the ‘net and social media — that will actually see their days numbered, especially given the real-time speed of social media. Among “influential bloggers” we’ll begin to see tools for quantifying their influence and the quality of their audiences — a service we already offer via BuzzParadise. Over the long-term, it’s only a matter of time before Google sets the world right again (killing all entry-market players in the process) by releasing its own solution, likely free, and conveniently integrated with Google Trends, Google Adplanner and Google Analytics.
But it’s not so much monitoring as brand management that’s key: the art of positioning yourself to respond proactively or reactively to either promote or defend your reputation, like Best Buy does on Twitter with its Twelp Force. In terms of developing a robust social media strategy that enables just that, Vanksen has already helped a number of brands, including SFR, Passoã and Dannon.
Many brands will get their hands bitten for leaving the delicate and strategic matters of digital engagement to a trainee, so some will start recruiting true community managers, Heads of Social Media and, over time, begin using social CRM tools like SalesForce’s Chatter. Having experimented a little, in 2010 advertisers may start integrating the web and social media into their efforts in a scalable, strategic way — and with real budgets. We can all agree that 2.0 technologies are in general financially cheap, but the costs incurred in terms of human time cannot be taken lightly if you want to compete seriously in this domain.
Web strategy and social media will be more and more often relegated to the Director of Marketing — not just the “web department.” Alternatively, we may also see the birth of multi-disciplinary departments. In general you can expect a reworking of the internal organizational structure; the silo model simply doesn’t work in the internet age. The majority of brands will have to develop and diffuse a “social media policy” for online representatives, to solidify best practices for avoiding the “bad buzz” that stems from unethical behaviour, or mitigating a situaton in which a badly-informed imployee releases a conflicting message. Frankly, most internet users don’t care if what they say is in line with what a communications, marketing, R&D, or client support department deem appropriate. And in the end, their commentary and critique impact all global brands.
As technologies continue to democratize, the so-called consum’actor will continue to challenge — and even compete against — brands and enterprises.
It’s simple: if a product or brand refuses to respond to user demand, the latter will band together to find better options, improve existing ones, tear down existing barriers (for example, copy protection and regional zoning of DVDs, DRM in music, locked iPhones), or use their networks to acquire things for free (P2P downloading like BitTorrent, etc). Now they also have savory options for producing (and selling!) their own goods, including Etsy (for artisanal or handmade products), Ponoko, Spoonflower (creation on-demand) or CafePress (adding personal designs to existing products).
In Research & Development, brand that not only open their ecosystem (consider APIs released by Google and Twitter) but also find a way to motivate users to contribute to their platform (revenue-sharing for developers of iTunes apps, for example) will benefit from the creativity and inventiveness of an army of volunteers — which can effectively be considered a boundless “department” of outsourced experimentation. Projects like Dell’s Ideastorm or My Starbucks Idea also create veritable “focus groups” for soliciting ideas, critiques and suggestions from clients. This can result in the improvement of a product or the creation of many new ones. The network effect results in a strange paradox for players with little-known brands: developers have little interest in working on platforms with too few users, and users have little interest in visiting sites with too few options.
In Marketing: word-of-mouth and the opinions of users will become key to the success of a product. Some brands know this already and encourage their clients to share in constructing their messages via crowdsourcing (P&G with VocalPoint, the Eyeka offering in France or Mofilms for ad-building) and Current TV in the US or BootB. They also diffuse messages with the hope of sending them viral (BuzzParadise facilitates this between luxury brands and influential bloggers, and Bzzagent activates volunteer evangelists in almost any demographic). When the film “New Moon” launched, BestBuy asked Facebook fans what their favourite vampire books and films were. The top 50 products mentioned were prominently sold on BestBuy.com, and gratified fans responded with pleasure to a brand actually listening to what they had to say — and making it possible for them to purchase the objects of their current obsession.
After over 10 years in of claiming the “year of mobile” has finally arrived, we can say with confidence that in 2010 mobile marketing will mature in ways we previously only dreamed: Forrester claims the sector will absorb over $390 million dollars; for its part, emarketer is claiming $593 million. This spend is expected to increase an average of 27% yearly for the next five years — an enormous figure. What’s more, mobile marketing spend in 2010 is still 24 times lower than expected expenditures in 2014:
Moving forward, the number of users with a mobile phone shall remain larger than those with a TV or even a PC. In 2010, they are estimated to total over a billion at the global level, according to IDC). Some studies even say mobile will even outweigh the importance of wallets! The growing significance of China (500 million internet users) and India, where inhabitants surf the web more often via GSM than via PC will also boost mobile development.
And it isn’t just the iPhone’s ergonomics or functionality that created a seismic boom in the mobile world; the ecosystem surrounding its applications — of which 20 billion will have been downloaded by 2014, versus 2.3 billion in 2009. Revenue-sharing certainly helps lubricate the creativity of developers. (Message to operators, however: your manic desire to monopolize mobile app revenues limits creativity, the number of applications developed and the potential of this enormous market.) iPhone users alone represent 33% of web traffic on mobile, even though they represent a mere 10% of the smartphone market! And while Nokia’s produced 10 times more GSM-wise than Apple has, by ’09′s third trimester the latter still enjoyed superior profits ($1.6 billion dollars versus $1.1 billion for Nokia ). Apple’s economic model has thus proved itself more valuable … it’s also challenged Nokia in the smartphone sector, where the margin is largest. In terms of leveraging the network effect to rival Apple’s formidable number of mobile apps, one can only wish good luck to BlackBerry and Nokia (with its Ovi service). The only serious contender in this regard has been Google, whose Android platform holds promise if the varied — often incompatible — versions of OS don’t hinder its development. Even social networks like Twitter and Facebook offer mobile apps, which enjoy considerable success: Facebook’s Lite version for mobile now hosts 65 million members — already, 18% of users regularly update their profiles from their phones!
The acquisition of ad network AdMob for $750 million, and the absorption of the (utterly un-Skype-like) voiceover IP firm Gizmo5 by Google (who may populate the platform with sponsored links, display ads or leverage it on mobile; it needs little more than a good SMS add-on) proves major players have developed a decidedly ambitious appetite for mobile marketing. In the United States, Volkswagen created a sophisticated iPhone app to promote the launch of its new GTI model.
But it isn’t merely big brands that can take this route. Creating iPhone apps democratizes access points, even for lesser-known marks, because time will prove it a cheaper alternative to developing a site: try MobileRoadie on for size. Adobe’s also developed a Flash CS5 app specifically for iPhone. The challenge for Apple will be to provide an efficient way to help users identify and locate the best apps for them in its marketplace, which is growing at an almost exponential rate.
Innovation will primarily also spring from social and geolocalized mobile components, resulting in the creation of promising augmented reality applications. For a glimpse of this in action, check out the applications and sites of Yelp, Gowalla, Loopt, Foursquare, Brightkite, Yowza (mobile coupons), Twitter 360, and Google Latitude. In these cases and ones like it, geolocalization weaves a truly “new layer of the web,” as suggested by Mashable head Pete Cashmore.
Moreover, imagine the combination of Yelp addresses coupled with the reviewes, not just of internet users but of your own network of friends, available on your phone and localized specifically to where you are. Your social network effectively “goes mobile,” connecting real-life to your virtual one. The GPS market, comprising players like TomTom (which incidentally just launched its own iPhone application), will certainly suffer from the unexpected appearance of mobile into its arena.
Augmented reality will transcend its position as a novelty for gadget lovers, making it possible to transform the screen of your GSM by adding a virtual layer to whatever you’re looking at in real-time (check out Layar for a sense of what we mean). Like in the movie Terminator, imagine being able to hold your camera up to the façade of a building, then immediately extract useful information right on your screen: apartments for rent, construction in progress, etc. An example of exactly this already exists for the N Building beside Tachikawa station in Japan. Removing technical obstacles (the need to have a webcam, or using pieces of identification — like drivers licenses — in a world only recently wading into automatic facial detection) will also promote development, particularly in marketing and sales, like in this promotional example for the film Coraline.
And in the future applications will get crazier still, like the “SixthSense” technology presented by
Pranav Mistry at TED, where mobile manifests in the form of a personal interactive projection. Imagine a kind of portable screen à la Minority Report: evolving with each interaction and context…
We hardly have to wait anymore for mobile payments to become a definitive reality: iTunes, Paypal and Square, the latest startup by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, are already working on closing that loop. ABI Research valued m-commerce (the sales of non-virtual products via mobile) at $750 million in 2009; emarketer predicts it will surpass a billion dollars, easily, in 2010. Amazon recently purchased Snaptell, and operators and platform developers are finally adopting a standard for QR codes, of which, in Japan, Skuyou.com has already made 120 million, decryptable via mobile by the vast majority of handheld owners.
2010 brings with it a true convergence between the real and the virtual — something that will force advertisers and agencies to rethink their marketing, break down silos and integrate real-time social media into both offline and online efforts. At this point, evolution is urgent for those that don’t wish to fall behind their own “consum’actors,” particularly because technology is changing so rapidly (not to exhaust you, but in addition to everything else, keep an eye on the inevitable arrival of nanotechnologies). The way technology is ultimately absorbed into the mainstream will also drastically change demand and, with them, business models. Just look at how the film, music, telephone and publications industries have changed. We’ve passed from static communication (sending a message to a target demographic via a given medium) to an attention and reputation economy (consumers decide if they want to listen to, repeat, modify or respond to your message).
The brands most receptive evolution and reinvention will come out on top; those acclimated to the comfort of their dying habits will, like the fated Titanic, hit a wall and be submerged. In this revolution, creativity and innovation, coupled with the capacity to measure and extract sense from the vast amounts of data now available to you, will be key.
To wrap up on an inspiring note, we invite you to watch this video featuring Kevin Kelly, who, after studying the last 5000 days of the web and search, imagines the 5000 days to come. It’s fascinating: