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Experian Predictions

Experian's digital and marketing predictions for 2012


By The Drum Team, Editorial

December 26, 2011 | 6 min read

With 2012 now just days away, the team at Experian offer their thoughts as to what the digital and marketing community can expect to see from the next year.


Search is well established as the number one online source of traffic but as people’s Internet browsing habits become more diverse, search is gradually becoming less dominant as a provider of traffic.

In October 2008 40% of all UK traffic came from search, by October 2011 this had fallen to 35%. In 2012 search will remain the dominant source of traffic in the UK, but other industries will continue to erode its market share especially in entertainment and social media.

Robin Goad, Head of Research, Experian Hitwise

Online Video

Video is one of the fastest growing media online and in the last year we’ve seen visits to online video sites grow by 36%. There are 785 million visits to online video websites every month, and if the growth trajectory continues throughout 2012 then we expect to see a new milestone of 1 billion visits to video sites a month sometime next year.

As people consume more video content online, brands should increasingly be looking to use video as a core part of their digital strategy. Online video is a very diverse media that can be used to build brand awareness, to bring traffic to a website, as an educational tool to demonstrate a product or service, as a customer service channel, or as a way to attract a completely new online audience, and 2012 needs to be the year that brands capitalise on this.

James Murray, Marketing Research Analyst, Experian Hitwise


2012 is likely to be a year of consolidation rather than innovation in the mobile industry. That is not to say mobile marketers won't keeping innovating and we expect to see early plays in technology like Near-Field Communication (NFC).

However, now the hype of the iPhone 4S has settled down the focus will be on establishing standards and best practises. There is now a relatively stable environment in terms of devices and platforms, upon which mobile marketers can get down to the hard graft of making campaigns that work.

In 2012, mobile advertising will address robust impression tracking, mobile email will establish correct rendering best practises, mobile marketing will finally figure out whether QR codes are worthwhile and mobile developers will shift to developing cross platform applications.

Finally, mobile networks are likely to throttle consumer mobile data over their networks. A short term solution to their ageing infrastructure, it will cause a definitive shift in user behaviour to become less reliant on the networks and instead move towards wi-fi wherever possible. In doing so, consumers are likely to increase their use of services which leverage wi-fi data transfer (VOIP and instant messaging platforms e.g.. WhatsApp, BBM, etc), threatening the mobile network core services (Voice and SMS).

Grant Sidwell, Mobile Account Director, Experian CheetahMail

Online Advertising

In the world of online advertising, 2012 will see audience targeting become ever more important and sophisticated. Advertisers will start looking to break through the current fragmentation in online targeting and bring their customer’s online personas into the same parameters as their CRM and offline data.

That is not to say that we will see a lack of development in the tools and technology used to plan and deploy online advertising campaigns, but the real story is around who you’re targeting, not how you reach them. Brands will need to ensure that they have a deep understanding of their target audiences and incorporate all information available, creating a single customer view, to be able to effectively plan, deploy and measure the success of their campaigns

Jon Buss, MD Hitwise and Digital Advertising Services

Social Media

2012 will be the year the ‘Sponsored Stories’ ad format truly takes off. Sponsored Stories launched in 2011 and have thus far been somewhat limited in their scope. However, with the launch of custom verbs at this year’s F8, their potential has been opened up. It’s no longer just about ‘liking’, brands will soon be able to run Sponsored Stories which mention ‘reading’, ‘listening’ or any other verb that fits with the brand in question.

This will make ads more social and relevant, push up response rates and help Facebook provide even more value for brands. This in turn will make brands, advertisers and agencies realise that social and Facebook in particular needs to be treated on its own merits and no longer as an add on to search and/or display as has often been the case until now.

Will Ashton, Managing Director, Alchemy Social

Email Marketing

Despite the continual rumour that email is a dying form of communication due to the rise of social media and smartphones, the evidence tells another story and in 2012 the strength of using email as a marketing tool is set to continue growing. The increasing growth in sales and popularity of smartphones gives customers another device through which they can view their emails at any time of day or night, making email an even more accessible form of communication.

To compliment this, email is going to become even more customer centric. As our inboxes reach capacity, and with many of us having more than one email account and consuming emails on a number of different devices, ESPs will have to cut through the noise in order to stay competitive. Combined with the continuing trend of declining open rates due to sophisticated inbox ‘junk mail’ programming, emails are going to have to be able to deliver relevant content to every customer so that even on an iPhone or a secondary email account the email stands out from the rest.

However the flip-side to this is that click through rates are expected to increase, with emails that reach the consumer becoming more relevant due to improved targeting, more educated send timing, along with stronger calls to action.

Helen Taylor, Data Analyst, Experian CheetahMail

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