10 digital trends to watch out for in 2014

By Mike Flynn

Here are my predictions for the 10 digital trends that I believe are set to be significant in the coming year. 

The future of wearable tech

Wearable technology is gaining popularity and products such as Fitbit, Google Glass and the Galaxy Gear ard set to take off next year. Fitbit allows you to track the number of steps you take in the day and compile it with other information, to produce a snapshot of your daily activity and health.  Similar technology is being used by medical professionals to keep track of patients’ wellbeing.  In terms of advertising, this opens opportunities to deliver relevant messages, tailored for the consumer’s physical behaviour and state of health.

Google Glass and smart watches are also likely to grow. While price currently puts them out of reach for the mass market, their ease of use and practicality means they’ll gain huge traction once they become more affordable. Brands will be feeling the benefits with both products opening up a bigger app market and new ways to engage customers.

The Year of the Internet of Things

Next year could be the year of the connected home. The latest version of the internet protocol, IPv6, is gaining momentum with BT and Virgin both planning to roll out IPv6 services in the New Year. This will allow any device in your house to have its own dedicated internet address, making it accessible anywhere in the world and opening the possibility for smart tags and sensors on food products too.

Content Leads the Way

Global FMCG brands have led the way in using content strategy to inform digital marketing activities and now other brands are following suit by realising the value in creating and deploying digital content for their target audience.

SEO is becoming less about keywords and more about subjects, context and intent, which are promoted by strong digital content. As more and more content from digital publications is placed behind paywalls, brands can exploit the ever-growing consumer appetite for relevant content.

Big Data, Brings Big Benefits

2014 will see more e-tailers using big data to learn more about their customers, personalise offers and predict market trends.  With a wealth of information available online, and an increasing trend in showrooming, consumers are now able to compare products, services and prices anytime and anywhere, making it harder for retailers to retain customer loyalty.

Retailers need to harness the power of big data by employing a data driven commerce platform to anticipate their needs, adding convenience and creating an improved shopping experience through tools such as weatherFIT, which taps into weather data to optimise content and adverts.

Supercharged Analytics

Universal Analytics, the latest iteration of Google Analytics, could revolutionise how data-driven marketers approach the multi-channel world we now live in.  The most exciting feature of Google’s updated offering is the ability to push data from almost any source into Google Analytics. This means offline data can be brought into Google Analytics, and apply the same data-driven approach to "non-digital" marketing that had previously been limited. 

Multi-screening and Converged Devices

With both the PS4 and Xbox One having web browsing as a major feature and Microsoft pitching its Xbox One console as a complete media centre, games consoles are fast joining the ‘Internet of Things’. This means it’s more important than ever for brands to ensure that their website is responsively designed, to give users the best possible experience on the device they are using.

Many brands have tapped into the opportunities that come with multi-screening by encouraging users to tweet about a brand while watching the ad.  This will continue to grow in 2014, and we will see more cross-platform meshing coming into marketing.

Intelligent Targeting

The increased range of data acquisition has the most opportunities for digital marketers. By tapping into data, they can work out insights including customer location, interests and daily routine which assists with ensuring the right message is delivered to the right person, at the right time and in the right format. This highly intelligent targeting can ultimately turn interest into a sale.

With the introduction of Google Now, search engines are transforming into semantic engines that understand the context and intent of the user’s search.  The digital marketer’s job therefore involves savvy analytical skills and a keen understanding of attribution modelling. Developing such skills can be a steep learning curve, but offers up huge opportunities in maximising profits.

Protecting your privacy

Privacy and security have been in the spotlight in 2013 thanks to the revelations about the NSA’s PRISM programme, raising questions for marketers about keeping customers’ data safe and preventing leaks and loses. Consumers will actively seek brands with a good security track record.

Real-Time Communications

iBeacons is Apple’s new technology to enhance location awareness in mobile apps, through Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). It works by pushing content to a compatible mobile device through small transmitters, known as beacons, which can be placed around buildings, holding huge benefits for brands who want to deliver targeted offers in real-time to its customers. For example, a restaurant with a beacon placed next to its entrance can push relevant messages about special offers or waiting times to customers who approach the building who have the restaurant’s app on their phone.

The Importance of Local


For search marketers, knowing customers’ behaviour is vital for improving conversion rates and Google Now – the new virtual personal assistant service for Android and iOS devices, is the most personalised service to date that Google offers. It responds to voice commands within Google’s Search and allows users to search, manage, and organise information on their mobile devices. It learns with time which means, the more you use it, the more it can predict what you may be interested in. Google Now takes the move to personalised, local search further, highlighting the value of local SEO.

About the author

Mike Flynn is the CEO of digital marketing specialist, Fast Web Media. He joined the company in 2000 from brewer, Bass, where he was Director of Sponsorship.  He was behind the company’s growth and its winning of multiple marketing industry awards and accolades, leading to the acquisition of FWM’s parent company (FAST Search & Transfer, a specialist in search and video software) in April 2008 by Microsoft. In July 2009, Flynn led an MBO from Microsoft ownership, re-establishing FWM as a company in its own right.  FWM is now a £3m-turnover digital marketing agency, with 31 staff and is targeting revenues of £4.5m this year.

Fast Web Media is a data and technology-driven digital marketing agency with offices in MediaCityUK and London. The company provides clients with award-winning digital marketing services, specialising in search marketing, technical development, social media and mobile. In 2011, FWM announced a strategic partnership with the University of Salford Business School for research and innovation in search marketing and social media.

Led by CEO Mike Flynn, Fast Web Media has developed FWM BIGprofile, which combines the power of search marketing, social media and digital PR to significantly raise a brand’s profile, as well as multi-award winning cloud based PPC tool weatherFIT, which lets users control PPC adverts based on current weather. WeatherFIT has won numerous awards, including most recently the ‘Innovative New Technology’ and ‘Retail’ Awards at The Digitals 2013, and previously the ‘Best Use of Search Marketing’ Award at the Revs 2013. In 2012 it won the award for ‘Best PPC Management Tool’ at the UK Search Awards and the ‘Innovation’ and ‘Grand Prix’ Awards at the European Search Awards.



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