This week we headed to Econsultancy's Future of Digital Marketing 2013 in London (FoDM). Over 500 of the country’s leading marketers and futurists attend the event, with speakers identifying and discussing the trends to expect in digital over the next two years. Here are a few overarching themes from the conference:
Inevitably, conversation centred around tech giants Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (or GAFA, as they're affectionately referred to). These four companies dominate the digital landscape and between them, are determining its future. Google founder Sergey Brin has been quoted as saying :
My vision when we started Google fifteen years ago was that eventually you wouldn't have to have a search query at all. You would just have information come to you as you needed it.
The enhanced understanding of the user data GAFA are collecting is helping to turn Brin's vision into a reality. It's difficult to comprehend the amount of data these organisations are amassing on their users, to the extent where they (eerily) know more about you than your family.
This isn't hyperbole either. Think about it: the ubiquity of these organisations means they're constantly learning about you. And, the more time you spend signed in, the better they are getting at joining the dots.
Take Google: they can look at the location of your search and figure out where you are; they know your home location, so they can figure out you're in a city that isn't your home; you put your return train time in your calendar, so they can tell you it's about time you headed to the station, unless you want to be miss it. This slide is from Will Critchlow's presentation at FoDM:
Formerly, the search engines would only look at the explicit query. You can see how much more can be predicted about the searcher's intent by looking at the implicit query.
There were interesting examples of how this enhanced understanding of the data they're collecting can be utilised in new technology and media. One was wearable computers: miniature electronic devices worn under, with or on top of clothing. You've probably already seen Google Glass, a voice-activated computer-monitor combo worn on eyeglass frames:
The consequences of giving these organisations and their technology such intimate access to our lives is another important debate, which we won't discuss in detail here. For now though, you should bookmark and read Tom Albrighton's excellent post 2084.
The other hot topic at the event was the increased convergence of publishing and shopping.
The two have always been closely-knit. Think about how product placement works: you see James Bond drinking a Heineken and this (the Dutch brewing giant hopes) will influence your perception of their brand and decision as to whether you can identify with it next time you're at the bar.
Imagine if you could pause the Bond film on your iPad when you see the watch, or suit he wears, and be taken straight to a place you 'shop for that look'.
This is a 'shoppable video' and an example of the convergence of publishing and shopping. Pioneers of this medium are the company SSENSE; head to their website for an example of how shoppable video works.
They were our main takeaways from the conference. If you were there, we'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.