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2011: Back to the Future


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What's in store for 2011? Well, it's back to the future, with a lot of what we once knew.

Point of View By Nathaniel Perez Head of Social Experience, SapientNitro

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2011: Back to the Future

  1. 1. POINT OF view2011: Back to the FutureBy Nathaniel Perez, Head of Social Experience, SapientNitro.Looking back at digital advertising in 2010 can leave just about anyone perplexed. Facebook alonewas tough enough to keep up with. It was the year it really went global, the year of the “like”, the yearthe Open Graph showed us a first true glimpse of the Semantic Web, the year with the most privacyuproars and the most new feature releases, the year The Social Network rattled the charts and theyear Mark Zuckerberg was named Time Magazine’s “Person of The Year.” It was the year Twitter nearlytripled its user base and launched advertising products. It was the year Foursquare acquired nearlyall of its 5 Million users, the year SCVNGR acquired a million, the year of the “check-in”, the yearFacebook launched “Places”. It was the year the President live streamed on YouTube, the year LadyGaga’s “Bad Romance” was viewed over 300 Million times. It was the year the iPhone 4 launched, andalso the year it saw some real competition. 2010 marked the end of a difficult decade with some vividoptimism, with venture funds gaining steam again, fueling some furious innovation.What’s in store for 2011? Well, it’s back to the future, with a lot of what we once knew. 2011 will be theyear advertisers get past “innovation clutter” and turn old notions into reality in bigger and better waysthan ever. Here are a few predictions.1. Experience is back in styleWe’ve witnessed some serious “network expansion”. Marketers have killed their Websites and gone“fishing where the fish are” — and that means Facebook. But they’ve also created a profile on justabout any network under the sun, expanding their footprint in hopes of a “network effect”, often at theexpense of their identity.After expansion comes integration. Integrated social features will be the hot new thing. Takingclues from the launch of the Facebook Open Graph, along with Facebook’s new slimmer and moreconstrained fan page format, the power of the social graph will expand well beyond the social network.Brands will reclaim their Websites and build rich experiences that are ubersocial. On the mobile front,players like Gowalla, realizing that experience suddenly matters more than ever, have integrated intojust about all geo-social networks, moving forward as an application vs. a network.In 2011, experience will trump utility. Social gaming was just the start. Branded experiences willfollow suit. © Sapient Corporation, 2011
  2. 2. POINT OF view2. Creative is the multiplier2010 was the year the TV spot truly became social (yes, talking about the Old Spice campaign). It wasalso the year numerous campaigns have experimented with new ways of looking at our advertisingchannels. 2010 unleashed the new true power of creative, expressed through ever so clever blends oftraditional and technology. The bar has been raised, and consumers have come to expect whole newforms and levels of creativity.In 2011, creative value, as expressed through social media and other mass proliferationchannels, will be a measurable “media multiplier”.3. Content is “kingdom”Content has always been king. In 2011, those brands that truly embrace “social content generation” willbuild themselves a kingdom. The connections between brand, art or skill and visual communicationsin a socially connected world can create powerfully authentic appeal for brands. Brands can build akingdom for themselves by focusing more on the art and process of social content generation thanthe imperative of content production. Nike’s “Ellie Runs” campaign and T-Mobile’s “Welcome Back”are both elegant examples of how brands can tap into the power and passion of up-and-cominginfluencers, very often in organic and authentic partnerships, to produce amazingly authentic content.4. It’s all just media again2011 is the year we drop the “social” in “social media”, at least figuratively. It’s the year advertisersmove from trying to buying, getting past experimentation. Media will once again have to be a wellarticulated value proposition. Social Media and digital word-of-mouth monetization and measurementwill be part of the integrated media plan. Advertisers will invest media dollars against reach,impressions and conversions across all channels, including even geo-social. Perhaps the mostdramatic change of all for 2011 will be the birth of Facebook’s socially targeted display media on thirdparty sites. Along with Twitter’s new paths to monetization, it’s clear this year will move us into socialmedia buying. Even digital PR will become “buyable”, moving into clearer metrics such as predictedreach, impressions and handoffs.At the same rate, 2011 will be the year media measurement dramatically evolves. New opportunitieswill include blending conversational, social, behavioral and operational data, bringing new levels ofinsight and intelligence to the table. Perhaps a sign of what’s ahead is the banking industry’s move tointegrate social graph data into individual credit risk scoring.5. Beyond location, digital gets realThis prediction might sound obvious, but definitely worth a mention. Smartphone (and now tablet)penetration will have a massive impact on real-life experiences. Instagram’s rapid rise to one milliondownloads is a clear sign of the dramatic rise of mobile media capture and sharing. A recent study bySapientNitro indicates nearly a third of holiday shoppers used their smartphone to share an in-storeexperience via a social network such as Twitter and Facebook. 2011 will be the year advertisers andbrands meet consumers “in the moment”, focusing on real experiences and tapping into impulsebehavior. This doesn’t just apply to shopping, but to the full gamut of brand experiences, such as localevents, concerts, sponsorships, tweet-ups and more. © Sapient Corporation, 2011
  3. 3. POINT OF viewWhile there’s probably so much more in store for 2011, these 5 predictions alone will be enough to keepmarketers plenty busy. Look forward to the year we’ll be doing old things in radically new ways.Look forward to the year agencies let go of the terms “digital”, “above the line” and “360”, in favorof “integrated”. Looking forward... Have a happy and healthy new year!What are your predictions? Share them!Follow @FastCoLeaders for all of our leadership news, expert bloggers, and book excerpts.Nathaniel Perez (@perezable on Twitter), Head of Social Experience, Nathaniel is head of Community Intelligence at Sapient Nitro. Part of a world class group of digital strategists, he works on groundbreaking social marketing approaches, platforms and offerings. Community Intelligence is all about creating marketing experiences that are focused on influence, harnessing its power across channels to trigger measurable digital engagement, action and communication. He’s also a co-chair of the ARF Social Media Council.This article was originally published in Fast Company, December 29, 2010. © Sapient Corporation, 2011