Increased budgets, targeted campaigns, evolving relationships between brands and their customers…digital strategies are changing.

2014 the Year of Digital Maturity?

The trend is shifting! After years of non-stop innovation and novelty, digital is now taking a new turn. The image of digital is changing: it is no longer regarded as a niche, an add-on to the main strategy, but is now an integral component of every new project, indicates the Digital Trends Report 2014 drawn up by global PR and communications agency Hotwire in conjunction with digital PR and social media agency 33 Digital. The report’s authors observe that the pace of new service adoption has now been overtaken by consolidation around existing services. From 2014 onwards, companies, brands and governments will concentrate on implementing solutions based on these services rather than launching new ones, they predict.

Bigger budgets

The Digital Trends Report points to the prominent role that digital tools and channels are playing both in company marketing and communications departments and communications agencies. Accordingly, digital budgets have expanded in order to implement digital strategies and, as the role of digital has evolved, “work done by agencies and in-house teams is no longer niche, but is becoming part of the mainstream marketing mix,” say the Hotwire/33Digital experts. Meanwhile the social networks have been invaded by brands and have become a major asset in their communications and marketing strategies. As a result, an increasing number of brands are “creating online destinations or campaigns that could be called social networks in their own right.” Moreover, companies are learning to reconcile themselves to the new world where the audience, rather than the brand, is in control of the message. They therefore have to make responsiveness a central facet of their marketing communications operations. This also means that the firm’s employees need to develop their digital skills.

New models appearing

Brands and consumers, institutions and citizens are changing the way they communicate, and the Hotwire/33Digital experts see a growing trend towards niche/special interest social networks. Brands now communicate in different ways in terms of both message content and form depending on whether the channel is for example Foursquare, Twitter or Pinterest. Another novelty the report predicts is the emergence of what it calls ‘pre-emptive computing’, “where services offer us help before we even ask for it,” along the lines of Google Now. Nevertheless, on the subject of gathering detailed information about users, the report points up the issues of data privacy, in the light of what has been happening over the last few months since Edward Snowden’s June 2013 revelations about the mass surveillance carried out by US and UK security services. In this sensitive climate, companies must take great care to ensure full transparency if they want to build trust among users and avoid general mistrust or even a public backlash against digital tools and technologies, the communications experts underline.