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Predictions for 2014: Carat, MEC, Results International and Rapp

As part of a series of predictions for 2014, industry thought leaders share their thoughts on the big advertising and digital trends for the year ahead.

Matthew Knight, head of innovation, Carat

Something that has interested me for the past few years is wearable technology, and in 2013 we saw the start of real leaps forward in consumer demand for wearable technology, such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which seemed to have the most amount of noise around its launch, despite plenty of far more interesting products already in market, such as Pebble – an e-paper based smartwatch, one of Kickstarter’s largest success stories – and of course, Nike Fuelband.Wearable tech suggests a future where interfaces are less intrusive, more passive, more ambient, more subtle – a future where devices are aware of what we are experiencing, feeling and doing without explicitly asking us for that information. Devices and technology will be increasingly less ‘visible’, but their capabilities and value will be richer and deeper. The technology will get out of the way, and things will feel effortless and magical.Whilst wearable tech itself is only a small part of this, the larger ecosystem of contextual sensors, ambient interfaces and the internet of things will start to create an immersive world that we live inside, rather than just swipe and peer into through our phones and tablets. Brands will be pushed to think about how they create immersive and contextual always-on services, rather than products which are valuable for snapshot moments in time, and it won’t simply be consumer electronics brands which need to consider this ambient interface. Healthcare, fashion, luxury, entertainment, education – every category will be impacted by this shift in interaction.

Gian LaVecchia, digital practice lead US, MEC

Wearable and physical tech:The next hardware innovation will come from wearable and physical technology, and will expand in popularity during 2014. Smartphones will no longer be the only “mobile” device consumers rely on, thereby displacing reliance on phones. Beyond the popular and heavily debated Google Glass, products like Jawbone, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, Nike Fuel Band, Fit Bit, etc. are all wired to collect data and in 2014 will expand past a predominately fitness based tool to becoming a true lifestyle companion. With geo-location and social capabilities built in, these products allow users to sync up with other people and will become the new “it” gadget for everyday activities. The combination of being simple to use, attached to the users body, and providing useful amounts of data will allow wearable tech to rival the non-stop smartphone fixation of consumers. It will be interesting to watch how companies like Samsung and Jawbone might open up their platforms to allow for innovation to be built on top of existing technology. The beautification of digital:Let’s be honest, if we were to create the first wave of digital advertising with the benefit of hindsight, it would play out very differently to how it did. Small, often ugly ads, splashed all over billions of pages has created the dual effect of dissatisfied users with the ability to ‘tune out’ the ads, as well as a massive oversupply of inventory, resulting in ad devaluation which ultimately fuelled a large part of the exchange and RTB revolution. While a large part of the digital advertising sector is focused on improving efficiencies and effectiveness of ads delivered to users through a combination of trading and targeting, another trend continues to evolve and is creating greater effectiveness through more aesthetically pleasing ad formats and placements, driven in large part by the growing dominance of mobile and tablet devices. The term native advertising seems to cause much debate and consternation in our industry, but regardless of titles, the more interesting and visually appealing ad formats and placements like Cards, Promoted Pins, Stickers, ‘Easter Eggs’, Vine and Project Devil are all paving the way in terms of making digital advertising a more valuable part of the ecosystem and not just an ugly annoyance to be avoided as best you can.

Jim Houghton, partner, Results International

While there’s no ignoring the heightened forces of supply and demand on mergers and acquisitions, supported by many agencies telling us they will be looking to buy or sell, I believe 2014 will actually be more notable for start-ups in the marketing and related technology sectors.On the one hand the worlds of the marketing director and chief information officer are moving ever closer. Chief marketing officers are collaborating with innovative start-ups, many of them in the technology field, to generate new products, services and ways of working. Entrepreneurial chief marketing officers may well like what they see and even decide to throw in their lot and run with their own start-up.The combination of a more benign macro-economic backdrop and increasing disintermediation by clients is opening up new doors for businesses that can support and accelerate this. Like their client-side counterparts, entrepreneurial agency people will be looking to re-tool and re-invent their businesses and/or themselves to deal with this new marketing world.Finally, 2013 will live forever as the year of the Publicis/Omnicom mega merger. History and POG’s own announcement of $0.5bn of ‘synergy benefits’ means this deal will spew out some talented people. This may affect corporate management more immediately and heavily than client teams, but the massive uncertainty around many roles for months to come may see some of these talented people embark on their own start-ups.

Craig Elimeliah, VP, director of creative technology, Rapp

I looked around and found an interesting stone that revealed a trend that I predict will take foot this coming year as well as being a trend that very much wants to remain a secret. Because its very existence and success relies on being completely invisible to those who benefit from it. The web is full of distractions. Lots of blurring distractions that keep us occupied, while smart little scripts (cookies) take note of everything we do. What we search for, topics we email about, products we look at and people we interact with. Cookies are relatively harmless little objects that in many ways help make the web more contextual for us as end users. But now that the majority of web browsing is happening on mobile devices, we need to rethink the way we contextualise the kind of content we as marketers want to put in front of people while they are out and about doing other things and not staring at a computer or TV screen. This past year we saw several retailers start to install ways to track customers via mobile devices by measuring the signals between their smartphones and Wi-Fi signals to count how many people walked by a store and how many actually entered. This kind of tracking is just scratching the surface. The breadth of data that our mobile devices transmit is endless. The kinds of information we store and transmit via our mobile devices will ultimately dictate the kinds of experiences we encounter in retail spaces. My prediction: This year is the year that we the people become the cookie.You can read more 2014 predictions from the marketing, advertising, digital and media industries here and here.

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