Ten Digital Trends Set to Go Mass-Market In 2012

Google Circles, News.me, Facebook Credits, Foursquare Radar, Little Printer and More

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As a global digital agency, one of our top priorities is keeping our collective finger on the pulse of consumer appetites and behavior in digital media. Below, our take on the top 10 digital trends for 2012 that will go mass.

1. Your inner circle
We seek to mirror our social personals in the digital world. But so far, digital has forced us to bring together not only our social selves, but also our professional and familial ones, and present a single persona to everyone we keep in contact with online. The average Facebook user has 130 friends, from BFFs to new acquaintances. Thanks to new filters on social networks, we can at last separate more easily and filter the people we know and decide with each post we share what portion of our friends will access it. Look for greater sophistication in filtering techniques on social networks over the next 12 months.
Examples: Google circles, Facebook Groups, Twitter Lists

2. Personalized news
We currently create more information in a year than we ever have historically. Understandably, overwhelmed by the plethora of information online, people need ways to navigate relevant information and choose what to read. Already, RSS feeds and social networks facilitate the process through integration with news sites that allow users to generate passive status updates by posting content to the wall. Now, applications that sort content based on digital friendship are emerging. The result: social reading is the new standard in online content consumption.
Examples: Percolate, News.me, Counterparties, Flipboard, Zite

3. Rent, don't own
Today we can get more entertainment for less. The average Netflix user spends over 11 hours per month watching movies. Digital has changed our sense of ownership and the behavior of renting is extending into categories beyond media and car rental where we realize that our use for certain products is limited and therefore do not warrant a purchase – think of infant clothes or art for home or office interiors.
Examples: Plumgear.com, Artsicle.com

4. Seamless transactions
We're always demanding that our processes become more efficient, quicker and safer, especially when it comes to our bank account. We now carry at least one screen with us at all times. Forty percent of US consumers own a Smartphone, which has becomes so much more than a phone. Transactions are quickly becoming fully integrated with our screens in multiple ways, from paying with our phones to executing financial transactions. Expect to see additional shifts in how we conduct our banking and financial matters.
Examples: Bitcoins, Google Wallet, Monitise, Square Card, Facebook Credits

5. Home, body, web
Technology is fast reaching a tipping point where it is both sufficiently small and affordable (well,…almost) to allow us to monitor our bodies and adapt to our environment automatically. In San Francisco, over 1700 members of "Quantified Self," a MeetUp group focused on personal measurement – whether through geotracking, life-logging or personal DNA sequencing. Our interest in leading healthier lifestyles, and automating the process through technology and sharing our results and experience, is increasing dramatically. NikePlus was only the beginning.
Examples: Nest.com, Jawbone Up

6. Ubiquitous accessibility
Moore's Law predicts that data storage capabilities double every two years, so our demand for data and data accessibility is huge. With the cloud, physical storage space is becoming obsolete. We access data from multiple devices, whether at home or on the go. Not long ago we stored our digital files locally, but the development of the cloud allows us to store larger amounts online. This is a storage solution that will become more prevalent as companies allow cloud access and service offerings drop in price.
Examples: Bitcasa, DropBox, Google Docs, Instapaper, iCloud, SkyDrive

7. The reliable subscription
We are creatures of habit and we want availability of the products we love in our busy lifestyle. In the past decades we have become an increasingly time-starved society, limiting our availability to maintain our routines. Subscription services are making a comeback and allowing us the reliability of indulging in our favorite habits.
Examples: ManPacks, PlaneRed, Lollihop, Memberly

8. Short-term nostalgic obsessions
Nostalgia has always been integral to our culture, but being able to catalog everything we do, everywhere we go, whom we see and where we travel has created a new obsession with the recent past. We like to analyze our recent life through check-ins and status updates and to enhance our tactile experiences by bringing digital things to life. As we become more immersed in digital objects, our desire to revisit the not-so- recent past will increase.
Examples: Little printer, Instaprint, FoursquareAnd7YearsAgo

9. Location-based discovery
Seeing the same place through someone else's perspective enriches it with new meaning. We want to discover and share the hidden gems around us. Interactive websites and mobile social apps are helping us make creative archives on locations. We catalogue these discoveries and geo-tag them to participate in an evolving public portrait of a place, creating a collective multimedia experience.
Examples: MyBlockNYC, Trover, Foursquare Radar, Google Maps, Tour Wrist

10. Control over data
Data has become an intricate part of our lives. We're now able to quantify all our digital actions and more services catering to specialized activities have emerged, from tracking our web history to monitoring a car's fuel consumption every inch of travel. We are becoming aware of the value of the data we share online, and may start making decisions differently – perhaps, charging for access to our data.
Examples: Ford Sync, LastFM, Goodreads, reading.am, Voy.url

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Wayne Arnold is co-founder and global CEO of Profero, the world's leading independent digital agency.
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