With the New Year just around the corner, digital marketers are already looking at the 2015 calendar and seeing where they can improve on their marketing efforts, and with everyone making their predictions about that the trends we will see in the coming months, it’s clear to see that everyone in the industry is expecting some big changes in the digital landscape.
Here are some of our predictions for the year to come:

1. Hyper personalised marketing

If you have been running Facebook/Twitter/Google ads you’ll be pretty familiar with the abundance of targeting options available to you in these platforms. As we move to a more “personalised” online experience, markets will be making the most of hyper personalised marketing: meaning that no matter where you are, or what device you are on, advertising will follow you.

Location based adverting is something that we have seen grow in the last year, and Facebook even launched Local Awareness Ads in October, helping business show ads to potential customers that are near their business’s neighbourhood.

Services like Yik Yak, which allow you to access a live feed of what everyone is saying around you, will be an interesting playing field for markets to jump on and develop into location-based advertising strategies.

As services become even more intelligent at collecting your data, ad-retargeting will rise in effectiveness (think of similar and look a-like-audiences), giving you the option of buying an item you didn’t even know you needed yet right from your newsfeed. And that brings us to…

2. Social shopping
We’ve already seen the massive rise in the “call-to-action” button on Facebook (Download now, Learn more etc.), and from July the “Buy Now” making its way into our streams, but 2015 will truly see the rise of the “Buy Now” button across all social media platforms.

Pinterest had developed the “buy from website” button earlier, and its partnership with Shopify is a clear indication that it’ll be making the move to a full-scale “buy now” service. Twitter announced in September that it was testing ways for users to buy items directly from its stream for certain brands/charities/etc., and as mobile payments start to gain favour in emerging markets like South Africa, we’ll see ecommerce really begin to gain stride.

3. Pay To Play
If you are in marketing you have no doubt heard everyone saying “pay to play”. Unfortunately, this is something you are going to have to become very comfortable with in the coming years. The basics of marketing online (placing ads/running promotions etc.) are relatively easy to set up, but it getting it right and making it effective for you (or your client) is where the real challenge is.

According to an Ad Week article earlier this year, 2014 Q1 Facebook ad pricing went up over 10% in comparison to Q4 2013, and as the demand for online advertising real-estate increase, this figure is sure to follow.

Social Media networks need to make money to survive, and with the constant Facebook algorithm changes, Twitter’s IPO, the introduction of Instagram ads, promoted pins and so on, the reality is for brands and companies to thrive rather than just survive, you have to pay the man.

4. Micro-video marketing
Video marketing isn’t something new, but the last couple months have seen a massive rise in popularity in micro-video marketing across platforms. More video ads have been popping up through Google video ad services (YouTube + across the web), and especially across social media networks.

The most obvious place that we have seen this is on Facebook, which has stated that it’s placing higher emphasis on video content (well, for this algorithm stint anyway), and also Instagram. Expect to see a lot more of micro-video story telling by brands in the coming year, not only through Facebook and Instagram, but through other video platforms like Snapchat and Vine (Yes, they have been around, but expect more from them in 2015, especially since South African community managers are already asking if they should be implementing them into their strategies).

*Side note: We’re expecting Instagram to start making the move to full-scale monetisation, so there is a very real possibility it will introduce specific account types for businesses.

5. Data, data, data
With all the changes happening in the digital landscape (those on-going and predicted) the only way that you will be able to make sense of the madness and make sure that you have positive results in the year to come, is to make data your best friend.

We already have access to an incredible amount of data (qualitative/quantitative) but where you will need to focus your efforts is being able to interpret all these metrics and use them to predict consumer trends and behaviours, and as the landscape becomes chock-full knowing when prime time conversion hour is can mean the difference between dining on grilled black bass or kettle cooked noodles.

Credit: Memeburn