Branding in 2013: Convergence, Content, Gaming, Big Data and Other Big Trends


The end of each year brings with it a flurry of predictions and prognostications for the next year. They come from genuine and self-appointed pundits in every area imaginable and from every corner of the globe. So why should brand marketing be any different?

This year, the pundits are seeing one word in their crystal balls:convergence. It’s obvious to most marketers that “traditional” marketing has already converged with digital marketing, but In 2013, “convergence” will take on new meaning in the brand marketing world. 

For example, we’ll see convergence in data analytics, according to Andrew Edwards, founder of Technology Leaders: “2013 will be the year convergence analytics comes of age. Big Data, cloud computing and dashboarding are going to merge into an array of offerings that answer the marketers’ need for a single view of multi-channel touchpoints.” 

We’ll also see convergence in online media: “As the lines continue to blur between what’s paid, owned, and earned in digital (and soon, traditional) media, this will be the trend that governs nearly all other major changes in the digital marketing and media landscape,” writes Rebecca Lieb, digital/advertising media analyst for Altimeter Group.[more]

And of course, convergence will continue between old and new marketing. In fact, “the old is new again,” writes Canadian growth strategist Ryan Caligiuri. “I’m seeing an increase in the number of companies using more traditional forms of marketing to further reach prospects that have engaged with a brand online in a super-targeted manner. The key here isn’t to limit the amount of online marketing. It’s to augment the frequency and effect of your message by adding traditional methods to the mix, and focusing on targeted clients, not the market at large.”  

The Consumer Is In Control

With the rise of social media, crowdsourcing, and consumer activism where a 13-year-old girl can push for a product overual, companies are recognizing that consumers exert considerable influence in brand marketing. 

Lara O’Reilly, a reporter for Marketing Week in the UK, writes “Consumers are slowly starting to realise the power they wield on social media – especially if they happen to have a large follower base. … Consumers are set to become ever more savvy about how their behavioural data can be used for targeted brand advertising.” Susan Gunelius of Forbes chimes in, “Leaving the crowd untapped is one of the biggest mistakes brand marketers could make in the coming 12 months.”

“As users fully integrate smartphones and tablets into their daily routine, they’ll use social on mobile while local,” writes digital strategist Chris Horton. “Local-use apps, user-generated reviews, and mobile wallets will complement this movement. When meditating on user experience, brands will have to think convenience, simplicity, proximity, and even real-time marketing.” Vibrant Media’s Jonathan Gardner adds, “In 2013, we have to put the consumer first, which means engagement on their number-one (probably mobile) device, contextual relevance and need anticipation.”

Great Brands Need Great Content

“Brand marketers who develop focused content plans with clear objectives in 2013 will reap the rewards that content marketing can deliver for many years to come,” writes Susan Gunelius in Forbes

Ryan Caligiuri takes content a step further: “Content is still vital, but it’s the context in which it is presented that is now of utmost importance. … When I say context, I mean creating content tailored for a specific audience. So, for instance, if you sell consulting services to healthcare companies, don’t just talk about your consulting services, customize it to health care and specific problems you can resolve.” Chris Horton agrees: “As consumers begin to realize the possibilities of social, local, mobile, they’ll come to demand ever-more personalized content. Brands will have to oblige by creating contextually-relevant content that speaks to the wants and needs of each segment of their target audience.”

Gaming Goes Big

In 2013 and beyond, brand marketers will be using more games to make their point. Robert J. Ricci reports, “Per Gartner, more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application by 2014. The best will reward consumption and loyalty (My Coke Rewards), feature game winners on brand properties (Domino’s Pizza Hero) and drive even more online word of mouth as winners promote themselves (Ben & Jerry’s Capture Euphoria).” Lara O’Reilly adds, “Regardless of industry focus, from the most seemingly dry sectors through to consumer goods companies, more brands will be looking to take inspiration from the video games sector to boost user engagement and brand loyalty.”

There’ll be a whole different kind of “game” coming into marketing play as well — augmented reality. “Anyone who ever test-drove a BMW on his desktop or tried on clothes through Lands’ End’s virtual models has experienced augmented reality,” writes Carlos Dunlap, Editorial Director for Colloquy. “It is a fairly specific innovation, but its capabilities are broad, and it has the power to penetrate any brand activity. …Marketing organizations that find ways to integrate augmented reality into their programs, through automatic contest opt-ins, aspirational point-earnings games or even cause-related activities, will have an edge as this technology advances.”

What trends are on your radar as we head into 2013?