Predictions are incredibly hard. Either you get it spot on and appear to be prescient or you are so wide of the mark that you look foolish. There is no middle ground and for that reason most people wisely stay clear of making them. Given that I'm not most people, here goes.
The Rise of Localism
Back in the pre internet days there was a general rule that applied to most businesses in the UK; namely that 80% of the business they did would be in a 10 mile radius of where they were based. Whether that statistic was correct or not was never really queried; it generally held true that people dealt with local businesses.
The arrival of the internet opened doors never previously possible to many people and it came as something of a revelation to a number of businesses that they could just as easily deal with customers on the other side of the country, or the other side of the world, as they did with local people. Local businesses however find it hard to compete on a global level; they need to be aligned just to the local market.
For 2014 we predict that 'localism' will continue to grow and thrive. We have been aligning most of our clients towards the local market for the past twelve months but 2014 will see this accelerate. People still like local; after all it's where we all live.
Further Fragmentation of Channels
With the arrival of the internet and the requirement to have a website came a number of new channels on which you could spend your advertising budget, and today this has fragmented to an almost impossible degree.
This fragmentation of channels has created huge confusion for business owners all over the world and will continue to do so. The absence of any clarity on this means that many businesses will be left high and dry wondering why their advertising doesn't work.
For 2014 we can see this fragmentation continuing and even more confusion entering the market.
The Abuse of Personal Data
There has never been more personal data easily available than today and yet despite safeguards and assurances it has ever been more vulnerable than it is today.
Every day we log into our computers and we create yet more personal data that is being taken and used by a big corporation or government. And it is vulnerable.
To really understand the scale of what is going on here take a look at this stunning interactive graphic which clearly illustrates the size of the issue.
For 2014 we forecast a rise in the number of data breaches that are reported and a corresponding rise in consumer dissatisfaction with this state of affairs. Something needs to be done about this and people need to understand just how important this issue actually is.**
Big Brother Backlash
Hot on the heels of the personal data issue we foresee a backlash against Big Brother. Now of course Big Brother, as depicted in Orwell's prescient novel 1984 doesn't really exist. Or does it?
People can and will debate this long and hard however when you look at the current digital set up and structure you can see that there are some parallels between fiction and the real world.
Today there are global organisations who are trying to own our lives; Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook to name just four. All of them have a game plan which involves integrating themselves so deeply into our daily lives that for us to consider extricating ourselves from their grasp is unthinkable.
For 2014 we forecast the start of a fightback. We can see more and more people being disgruntled with these large corporations wanting more and more of our lives and data and a backlash against this happening.
Social is Social
Finally for 2014 we think that this is the year that Social Media is recognised as something people use when they are being social.
Twenty years ago the nirvana for Marketers was to be able to provide personally targeted adverts to individual users at the right time, achieving the 'cut through' that traditional media lacked. Today on social media we pretty much have that but instead of feeling personal it feels like we are being stalked.
For 2014 we forecast that it will be the year of consumer backlash on these platforms as more and more people find ways of filtering and avoiding the advertising.
**This article was written in over the Christmas break 2013 ready for issue in January 2014 however as with all things, particularly forecasts, events have overtaken this piece. On 31st December 2013 the entire user base for Snapchat was hacked from their systems and made available online with the last three digits of the phone number removed.
This article in its unabridged form first appeared on http://www.aqueous-digital.co.uk/digital-marketing/2014-predictions