What challenges are brands going to face in 2015? Where are the opportunities and what changes can we expect to see to the way both users and marketers use digital? We put those questions to some of our experts.
PR and content marketing are no longer mutually exclusive
Next year will see these two disciplines become increasingly closer, as marketing teams put distribution to the top of their list. PR is all about relationships, and it’s these relationships that can make the difference between your content being seen by just ten people, or seen by thousands of people.
PR teams should offer journalists and influencers great news stories, unique data, compelling photos or video and interesting illustrations. All of these assets will come from great content marketing campaigns and in turn give a natural reason for someone to link back to your website.
Penguin analysis to become real-time
We eagerly awaited the Penguin 3.0 rollout for over a year and the result was somewhat underwhelming, affecting just over 1% of UK and US search queries with only minimal changes within the SERPS. However, since Penguin 3.0 was confirmed on October 17th 2014, we are still observing consistent refreshes affecting organic search on a daily basis.
Throughout 2015, we’re going to see Google continually refreshing Penguin, eventually moving towards real-time analysis of external links once it has matured enough, as we currently see with Panda. This will mean the end of webmasters waiting months for redemption after being hit by a Penguin related algorithm change.
By moving towards to a real-time analysis, Google will places its self at the cutting edge of spam identification, making it difficult to increase organic rankings using out-dated spam link techniques. This shift will no-doubt prompt webmasters (if they haven't been prompted enough already) to adopt an approach of creating engaging content to achieve natural, earned coverage.
Adaptive content takes off
Engagement is now such a huge ranking factor and brands will need to find ways of ensuring that their content is as compelling as possible for every single user wherever they are.
I fully expect to see more personalisation of content in 2015, with brands really starting to think about how they communicate with their customers as individuals, in individual scenarios.
Different customer touch points are rarely the same, so it doesn’t pay to plaster the same content across every channel and hope that consumers can work it out for themselves. Content has to be adaptive to the setting and scenario.
As brands get more adept at tracking users across multiple touch points, ensuring that the right content is available in the right place is essential to keeping those users engaged.
The rise of app tracking
Google is making a big push for App Tracking training in the Analytics Academy, so I’m expecting this to be a big focus in 2015.
We will see a big emphasis on app usability and engagement, with developers being able to properly zero in on issues and truly understand how people use their apps. That can only result in better mobile applications for everybody.
Mobile UX and cross-device attribution
Digital marketers will be more conscious than ever of the plethora of UX orientated nuances and general challenges of marketing on mobile devices - which may even extend to wearable tech. They will start to consider in greater detail the way in which their assets are discovered, rendered and interacted with on mobile, and look to develop customised device specific experiences.
Cross-device attribution modelling, to clarify and report on the role and value of mobile devices within conversion funnels, is also going to be a major focus. This will not only cater for the full spectrum of digital media channels, but also for above the line activity.
Bigger investments in video content
Next year will be the year when brands start to make big investments in video content. We’ll see bigger budgets and, hopefully, an end to token efforts at video content for video content’s sake.
The business case for multimedia content is getting more and more compelling. A third of time online is spent watching video content, consumers are four times more likely to consume video content than written content and three quarters of users have visited a marketer’s website after watching a video.
Armed with insight like that, why wouldn’t you invest in getting video right?
Twitter to break into two
Twitter has already made plenty of noise about being the go-to place for breaking news, and it is already working to make news much more prominent.
Over the course of 2015, we could very much see “two” Twitters. Twitter needs to appeal to new users and it can’t rely on those users to be invested in the service to make it work for them. Twitter needs to make sure that it can serve the needs of its newest members from the day they create their accounts.
That could result in what is effectively a separate Twitter news service – representing a major change for Twitter as we know it.
The year of Universal
In 2014, Google officially declared that Universal Analytics was out of Beta testing, handing down an unknown deadline for webmasters to upgrade before urchin.js and ga.js no longer functions.
I fully expect 2015 to be the year of Universal, with new features (such as a greater focus on cross device tracking and user IDs) and maybe a new user interface to coerce businesses to upgrade before the switch-over is forced upon them.
Facebook to make bold moves into search
Facebook needs to find a way of retaining users, and I predict that search will be a big focus for it over the course of 2015. The decision to drop Bing search earlier this month is a step towards taking a piece of the Google pie.
With 1.35billion users still active on the social network, Facebook will fast become a consideration in any SEO strategy if it continues to make strides in search.
The ‘internet of things’ will become much more commercial
We’ve heard a lot about “the internet of things” for some time, although I expect to see connected devices capturing the public’s imagination.
I think the public is starting to see a real application for connected devices. Google has invested heavily in Nest, which allows people to control their heating online, with various energy companies offering their own similar solutions. DIY stores are now stocking connected door locks.
The public seems to have bought into the premise of connected technology. Expect this to be a focus for tech brands in 2015.