5 Things That Should Happen in Digital in 2012 – But Probably Won’t

utopia-brazilPredictions are popping up everywhere as the New Year begins. Instead of producing another list of things that are likely to happen, here are the five things I’d like to see happen in 2012 but in reality probably won’t.

Bing Takes 15% Search Market Share From Google

It’s not the first time I’ve found myself writing that competition spurs on innovation. While Google might be innovating without a strong search competitor in the west, increased competition can only be a good thing – and helps keep large companies honest.

Which brings me to one way Bing might achieve this, in my idealized version of 2012.

Bing and Facebook Crack Social-Assisted Search

Word of mouth is still the most effective form of marketing, with search engines often ranking as the second most effective. So taking the word of mouth nature of social and using this to influence search results sounds like a perfect marriage, but nobody has made it work, with scale, internationally – yet.

If Bing and Facebook could crack this, they might just have a competitive advantage over Google, which will be focused on growing their user base on Google+ and lack much of the data Facebook have. Microsoft invested in Facebook and powers its web search, after all.

Yahoo is Reinvigorated With a New Strategy

Poor Yahoo. Left behind in search by Google, lacking a CEO, and the subject of constant speculation, the company is a long way from the Internet pioneer it once was. A reinvigorated Yahoo would be great to see; they still have many great services they’ve built or acquired.

Clients Appreciate That Specialists Deliver Better Campaigns – and Are Worth Paying For

Recessionary pressure and the power of procurement departments has meant some clients have consolidated activity under one all-service agency – even if that agency isn’t strong in digital areas like search, ad exchanges or conversion optimization.

These brands are getting a “cheap” deal overall but are often missing a vital point – as Honda CMO Steve Center has said, “If you grind the margin out of your agency you will get a marginal agency.”

This especially applies when a digital department is charged out with a low fee to protect an all-service deal; that department’s P&L might not be funded to hire the best digital people (or simply enough people). Specialist agencies know these accounts well – they’re the ones you onboard and have to rebuild from scratch, or achieve amazing results for quickly – because there was so much low hanging fruit left by the other agency.

CMOs and CEOs Finally “Get Digital”

Many digital marketers will tell you how frustrating they find senior executive attitudes to funding digital. They’re happy to spend millions on TV ads, but ask them to agree to fund a landing page optimization tool and they recoil – even though the latter will bring concrete sales improvements.

Offline and branding are vital parts of the marketing mix – but the appropriation of budgets between channels is often out-dated. Twenty-five percent of time spent in media was on the Internet in 2010 in the U.S., but only 19 percent of budgets were spent on the channel; mobile saw 8 percent of time with only 0.5 percent of budgets. Print, by comparison, received 27 percent of budgets but only 8 percent of time.

There’s still a long way to go before the top execs at many brands truly “get” digital and budgets are more fairly apportioned.

Do you have a wish list of digital in 2012? Leave a comment below.

Image Credit: Felipe Venâncio 

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