Gamification, virtual togetherness and real-time online decision making  have been named as the digital trends to watch in 2012 by marketing research agency, Millward Brown.

The predictions are part of the firm’s 2012 Digital Predictions, a look forward into the trends expected of the growing digital space in the next 12 months. These trends are expected to radically alter the way in which marketers interact with consumers via digital channels.

Dave Barrowcliff, social media measurement specialist for Millward Brown says, “We predict huge change in the way brands adopt and develop emerging technologies. They will use these technologies to engage with a growing generation of digital consumers in more playful and enjoyable ways.”

The first of the above-mentioned trends, gamification, refers to this playfulness, as big brands are expected to build on existing platforms that measure points, level progression, virtual currencies and achievements, such as location-based social network Foursquare. Imagine a social game where a dad wins the title of Super Dad after purchasing a particular brand of nappies five weeks in a row, or friends score points when all purchase the same brand of breakfast cereal. This inherently social idea engages people by applying game mechanics to non-game situations.

‘Virtual togetherness’ refers to the tools and technologies that allow people to interact with previously one-way media, such as television. Already seen in Australia on television shows such as the ABC’s Q&A, where a live Twitter stream scrolls across the bottom of the screen, next year is expected to bring more advanced forms of audience interaction to both increase engagement and offer opportunities for research.

Demand will increase in 2012 for real-time decision making around online advertising, specifically brand and creative-based campaign insight. This will fuel the emergence of intelligent automated decision-making processes for optimising campaigns, a significant improvement over current click-based systems. Heavy investment in demand-side platforms is expected from media buyers. To be successful, researchers, creatives and marketers will have to learn to merge the real-time data with analytics and creative evaluation to optimise online advertising.

The full PDF of Millward Brown’s 2012 Digital Predictions can be downloaded here.


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