The Facebook newsfeeds we will see at the end of next year will look very different from the ones we see now. We will see the rise of bigger, bolder, more interactive – and intrusive – Facebook advertisements in 2013.
It was only a matter of time before Facebook sought to monetize and justify its massive valuation. The drive for effective and revenue-generating advertising will draw on its powerful social ecosystem, pushing the creative formats and placements far away from the ads we see today.
Brands will be permitted to be more visible on members’ newsfeeds, growing the use of sponsored stories and video ads (which will become highlighted in users’ feeds). Advertisers will also be prominent across more of the landing page – expandable and richer formats will be prevalent by the end of the year. With these new opportunities will come increased responsibility for advertisers to deliver quality content that enhances the user experience rather than invades the platform.
Facebook will morph from a relatively private social space to a business entity driven by the bottom line. Brands will need to tread carefully as they explore these new opportunities. Some users will tolerate prominent advertising in return for free access to their friends and social connections, but others may balk at increased commercialization. Seeing their personal data sold for targeted advertising may cause resentment, unless brands deliver engaging content that is appropriate for this personal space.
As brands start to invest higher CPMs in more impactful ad units, it will become increasingly important to optimize visuals and messaging. Some of this will be measured in real-time, and copy-testing of Facebook ads will also start to be more widely employed. By the end of 2013 we will better understand users’ reactions to Facebook advertising, and we will know which formats successfully deliver brand impact without alienating users.
Martin Ash


The current state of social media data collection is pretty much 'grab and go.' Most social listening platforms scrape every piece of social data they can find. Certainly this can be useful for monitoring real-time updates on breaking news and crises. But should all of the social universe be eligible for brand measurement?
Privacy settings make it difficult to know how much of the total has been captured – or not. And while traditional research data undergoes a rigorous scrubbing process to eliminate trivial or unreliable data, there is no such quality standard in social media. Our tests show that across over 30 million conversations, as little as 40 percent of the total volume of brand conversations may consist of actual mentions of the brand by humans. This affects every commonly used metric from buzz to sentiment to key themes – it even affects calculations of influence, since brands may be including spambots when assessing their audience’s influence.
As brands give more weight to social data in making business decisions, they will also demand greater transparency in the collection of data and greater quality in the insights. Rather than just being alerted of a crisis, marketers need to understand the longer-term implications, and the underlying factors driving that outcome. This can only be achieved when starting with a robust dataset. The current generation of technology can help aggregate the data, but it is not yet effective at assessing more subjective aspects, like sentiment.
Social data can start to inform business decisions more broadly across organizations, but it’s only meaningful if it’s cleaned, designed and analyzed in a way that makes it actionable and comparable to other measures. Human discretion is still needed to evaluate the source, quality, and value of results. To find true insight in social data, brands will require a new iteration of social listening that is less focused on fast feedback, and more on reliable research.
Anne Czernek


Picture this... you walk into a room and the ambience instantly adapts to your personal preferences—the lighting dims, jazz music begins to play, and pictures of your favorite beach are projected onto the walls. You set your smartphone down on the desk, and all your information (files, pictures, songs, movies, etc.) are at your fingertips; no more laptop bags, flash drives, or papers—everything is just there. With increased power and capabilities, our mobile devices become the remote controls of our lives, allowing not only active control of electronics, but seamless integration of the world around us.
While the milieu described above may be a few years off, we can already see the evolution of mobile in the way we live. The new functionality of our 'mobile remotes' utilizes advanced technology to simplify our lives. Anything that needs a processor to operate can use a smartphone as the brain. Brands need to start developing communication plans that adapt to this new world.
Marketers must learn to interact with consumers via these 'mobile remotes.' Content and advertising must stem from mobile but become adaptable to multiple screens and scenarios. With mobile as the hub, information gathering becomes more centralized as consumers trade personal information for convenience and access to events, offers and premium content. We see this with 'check-ins' now, but these will expand to more widespread, dynamic and seamless use.
Marketers need to create content that is flexible and smart so that it not only gives information, but receives it as well, and adapts in real-time to become more relevant and appropriate. The information that will be available on our 'mobile remotes' facilitates greater possibilities for advanced targeting and for interactive creative executions.
Drew Myers


One of the great things about the Internet is that you can access all your favorite content at the touch of a button and all for free, right? Not for much longer. In 2013 we will see an increase in the amount of content shifting away from ad-supported business models to pay-per-view or subscription-based models.
Driving the change is the rapid decline in audiences for the big players of traditional media. Newspaper and magazine circulation is in decline and TV audiences are becoming increasingly fragmented, due to the growth of alternative television services as well as online and mobile video consumption.
While many of these players have established solid online properties, they have generally been seen as an extension of their traditional audience and are based around a free access, ad-supported business model. To sustain high-quality content, they will need to use some form of subscription-based access to ensure delivery of specialized and exclusive content. The Wall Street Journal led the way as far back as 1997, but ever more established content sites will move towards paywalls and subscription models.

What does this mean for brands and marketers?

More fragmentation – with consumers now having to pay, you can expect audience sizes for premium content sites to fall as consumers look for alternative free content or go without. Less clutter, tighter targeting but higher CPMs – with a subscription audience, the reliance on ad revenue by content providers will decline. They will instead focus more on quality and an improved user experience to drive subscribers. The result will be less advertising space, but greater audience targeting will drive-up demand and also prices. Brands will need to decide if the 'premium context' is worth the price of the premium CPM. There may be an opportunity for fast-moving brands to subsidize content to keep parts of it free.
Mark Henning


Omnichannel marketing is about being present or available across the consumer’s behavioral path: each potential contact point integrated with all others. The concept started in the retail sector where this behavioral path is easily tracked across online, offline and mobile touchpoints (both marketing and transactional).
The digital arena will represent the first stage of more brands adopting an omnichannel mindset, as social and mobile data sources are blended with offline brand experiences. Customer data will be key to these efforts as big data moves from a passive pool of potential insights, into an active mechanism for deepening the meaning behind each individual interaction.
This shift in technological connectivity offers marketers an opportunity to sew their conversations with consumers together into a coherent story. It’s not about bombarding people with marketing noise, but rather integrating previous interactions to ensure greater relevance when attention is being paid to a brand’s message. Treading the line between privacy fears and consumer empowerment is going to be a key determinant of success.
In 2013 the green shoots of omnichannel strategies will involve companies turning existing datasets into active targeting engines. A retail brand might look to integrate loyalty data with social applications to deliver relevant offers or messages to consumers when they’re in or around store locations. As mobile ad-serving platforms mature, this will transition from social apps into ads running across any mobile content. As well as receiving location data, mobiles have the potential to inform nearby digital screens – Minority Report-style tailored out of home ad content may not be so far away.
The implication for marketers is to start building the infrastructure to deliver an integrated experience in the omnichannel world or face the prospect of being left behind. The risk is that your competitors start to have meaningful ongoing dialogues while you shout disjointed slogans at consumers. The technical requirement is to capture meaningful moments of engagement so they can be referenced and built on during subsequent interactions.
Rob Valsler

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