2012 will be a tipping point as exploding mobile-connected consumer adoption reshapes all business structure, process and economics. The chasm will deepen between companies integrating anywhere connections into every level of their operations and those that don’t.
Defined by author Malcom Gladwell as “the moment of critical mass and threshold,” consumer reliance on and use of mobile connectivity will be collectively potent enough to prompt major change for companies across the spectrum.
Attention will shift from platforms, devices and channels of parity to consumer-specific needs and interests as content and marketing blur across all screens. Individual relevance will be the key to creating and mining new connected mobile value propositions for all parties.
Privacy concerns will dissipate when consumers know and “allow” data to be collected about them in exchange for the delivery of targeted products and services.
With the domestic social network audience comprising 66% of U.S. Internet users in 2012, according to eMarketer, social media will emerge as the de facto connection platform, providing the glue for revenue-generating transactions through its share, likes, links and clicks.
Facebook will lead the march leveraging members’ personal Timelines, sponsored story news feeds and Open Graph protocol in new mobile applications, and users’ texting affinity.
Worldwide social network ad revenues will pass $8 billion in 2012, $5.8 billion of which will be generated by Facebook and its mobile expansion, according to eMarketer.
Amazon has set the bar high on a new breed of customer service that is cost-effective, reliable, intuitive and all about the individual customer. While the development of new interactive metrics and measurement continue their slow and steady churn, merchants will begin relying on the ultimate endgame: the transaction.
As video becomes seamless across all screens and is the catalyst for next-level digital advertising — tech giants Apple, Google, Sony and Microsoft will wage a major battle for the American living room. The pastime of TV viewing will be folded into a more ubiquitous video experience.
With 86% of Web users now using a mobile device while watching TV, according to Nielsen, the integration is clearly underway, reducing the continuing slide in conventional TV viewing and box office attendance to a mere footnote.
The intensifying tension between such tech giants and Facebook, as they innovate in a land grab for consumers and companies, will be the most significant story and driving force for change in 2012.
The continuing flow of merger consolidation and IPOs, dominated by Facebook going public with a possible $100 billion valuation, will just raise the stakes and create unprecedented value.
Consumers favour on-the-go interactivity; companies change or risk obsolescence.
A simple but profound example: Sears’ decision to close more than 100 stores due to poor holiday sales and Best Buy’s failure to fulfil all of its online orders by Christmas underscore etailers underestimating the power and expectations of the connected consumer. Such is the Amazon effect that will shape all companies.
The pricey premiums the broadcast TV networks paid for mobile rights as part of the recently negotiated $28 billion NFL rights could trigger a major move into a la carte streaming fees to offset those costs, possibly backed by new concepts such as pay tiers on on the new NBC Sports Channel and the ultraViolate initiative’s digital rights locker.
Comcast-owned NBC has, but may not boldly exploit, new content, marketing and commerce business models with its multiscreen coverage of the London Summer Olympics. The issue of interactive universal video screens ultimately will be forced by Google’s YouTube (the top online video destination) and its $100 million investment in original Web-only to fuel its entry into interactive TV.
Perhaps the most riveting question for 2012 is how companies will put mobile interactivity to work in new ways to capture the attention and spend of the connected consumer? Some of the other change they must consider:
*Location-based content, service and marketing will become more sophisticated as it moves toward the mainstream. Revenue growth will be generated from reaching the right individual consumer with the right content, marketing message and deal at the right time. It won’t just be up to consolidating deal players, such as Groupon and Foursquare.
With more than 60% of adults rely on the Internet for information about local business, according to Pew Research, every company will need to beat a new path to connected consumers on the go.
*Widespread cloud-based streaming will fuse content and marketing, upending old-line video and advertising delivery and economics. The result could be a viable movement toward a la carte pricing and self-serve targeted advertising that give consumers precisely what they want and when.
*Personal relevance becomes the key factor. For consumers, it goes beyond loyalty to convenience and cost efficiency. For companies, it translates into more direct marketing and impulse buying, and bottom line growth.
*Strongest holiday sales occurred with merchants that straddle the online and brick and mortar worlds, demonstrating a tireless advance of virtual connections to customers.
*Advertising and marketing holdouts — including too many of the leading ad agencies — will finally succumb to these overwhelming trends. Anyone pointing to a temporary blip in 2012 Olympics and election-related advertising as a reason to feel encouraged about the future of conventional TV advertising, is drinking the Kool-Aid.
The companies that target the ultimate sale will win. However they finally shake out, mobile payments $700 billion by 2015, according to Juniper, will turn retail spending on its head and fortify already impressive online commerce.
*The reconciliation of the virtual and physical worlds will become more pronounced. One simple example: Politico will begin distributing free hard copy versions in New York City to promote the online Web site where it was conceived. Little wonder, since its Washington, D.C., free, advertising-based print version is more profitable than its online counterpart. This seemingly backward approach is indicative of the way companies must continue to integrate and reach out to connected consumers across both worlds.