Tipping the Next Big Thing – The Future of Digital

January 22, 2013



It is an occupational challenge of working in digital that you are frequently asked to predict what the big trends will be in the coming years, months and weeks.  Given the pace of change this is understandable but it does sometime leave you feeling like a racing tipster…should I back Pinterest?  Is Facebook’s Graph Search the new Istabraq?  

The most challenging question though is the non-specific, “what is the digital future”?

Such is the pervasiveness of all things digital through our lives that in many ways it is now redundant to talk about the ‘digital future’.  Digital channels are no longer novel but are fully integrated into our lives.  The ‘digital future’ has truly gone the way of our ‘electric future’ and ‘automobile future’; so ubiquitous that they have stopped being the future.

One future that you could confidently tip for success is our ‘data future’.  This future will soon join its digital counterpart in ubiquity, but for now data holds amazing potential and opportunity for those who can understand and control it.      

One person who had a team that understood the power of data was Barack Obama.  While in 2008 the big story was the Obama campaigns cutting edge use of social media, 2012 was all about harnessing the power of data.  Obama ran a ‘moneyball campaign’ to effectively target prospective voters.  This US election cycle also saw the emergence of data’s first superstar, Nate Silver, who by correctly predicting the elections outcome brought to mass awareness the power of looking deep, very deep, into the numbers.

Whatever about the possible long term impact of social media for marketers, developments in data management will fundamentally redefine how advertisers interact with consumers.  In the relatively short term very few media buys will take place without data playing a role. 

Digital media has always offered up a huge amount of data to advertisers and agencies, but making real sense of that data and making it work with other data sets has been a near impossibility.  This is all changing – the data sets exist and are starting to talk to each other and the potential is huge. 

The smart marketers are the ones who decide not to ignore the potential of data.  Quickly it won’t just belong in the realm of backroom geeks like Nate Silver and people predicting the future.  So if you ask me I’d be sticking a score on Big Data in the bumper. 

– Garret


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