Lee Odden

Future Trends: 2012 Online Marketing & Technology Predictions

Lee Odden     Online Marketing

online marketing trendsWhat does 2012 hold in store for online marketing? The acceleration of innovation in online technologies and the ways we can discover, consume and engage with information can be a challenge to keep up with. But as digital marketers that are more than shiny object opportunists, seeing future trends is exactly what we need to do in order to anticipate our place in the digital universe.

It’s not just about where you can sell stuff to people right now, but next month, next year, 5, 10 or more out.  That’s why I think the concept of discover, consume and engage is so important, because it transcends ideas like “social network” or “search engine” and focuses more on consumers and technologies. Will we be using a search engine like Google in 5 years? Will we be using desktop computers in 5 years? What will future social networks look like? Answers to those questions are answers to the future of marketing and customer engagement.

Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon and plenty of other large companies are innovating at amazing speed to gain control of our attention. Some are doing it through devices, some through content, others through infrastructure. A handful of companies have had a huge impact on what we do online and at the same time, new companies, start-ups and individuals are creating amazing solutions. What are you doing to see the bigger picture and what it means for your business?

Rather than jumping sequentially from one thing to the next, marketers should consider developing adaptive models that allow for rapid assimilation of new technologies and trends. As it stands, companies may adopt early with some risk, move with the crowd giving up first mover advantage or wait and see until it’s too painful not to change. The ramp up time to evaluate and adopt new technologies and trends is expensive. As an example, over $100 billion has already been invested in social business and that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the next 5 years as companies implement enterprise collaboration platforms and social technologies.

In order to survive and thrive, I think more companies are going to evolve their ability to adapt more quickly, tune in to trends and data more efficiently and at the same time have the infrastructure and partnerships that will allow them to evolve and innovate at greater speed.

From a practical level, the new internet no longer exists on your computer as consumers and content shifts to tablet devices and smartphones. The search experience has not only become distinctly different for consumers through user innovations like Siri, interface and back-end changes but also for marketers trying to play Google’s game in achieving top search visibility.

Imagine how many more changes there will be in technology as well as with consumer behaviors in the coming year. Here are 7 reports and infographics outlining key technology, social business and digital marketing trends for 2012 and beyond.

Envisioning Emerging Technology 2012 and Beyond

Envisioning Emerging Technology. At the heart of the fast changing digital ecosystem of mobile, internet and information is technology. 10 years ago not many marketers could have predicted the ubiquity of tablet devices and smartphones we see today. What’s in store for the next 20 years. Or 30? This smart data visualization from Michell Zappa charts future technologies like artificial intelligence, interfaces and robotics through 2040 on several dimensions including relative importance and consumer impact. Virtual Reality life forms anyone?

Dachis Group Social Business Predictions 2012

2012 Social Business Developments. What’s the future of business? Social Business. Here are 12 social business predictions from Dion Hinchcliffe of Dachis Group covering the move of social to mobile, marketing consolidation, budget and operational aspects of social business and some keen insights on social business applications.

conScore It's a Social World 2012

“It’s a Social World: Top 10 Need-to-Knows About Social Networking and Where It’s Headed. Globally, social networking is the most popular activity online according to a new study from comScore. The impact of Facebook and microblogging have had a profound impact on how brands and consumers connect and engage around the world. Any company doing business globally would benefit from reading this report that covers social media usage, adoption and trends.

Mobile Outlook 2012

Mobile Outlook 2012 (pdf). Mobile predictions finally came true in 2011 and companies have invested significantly in mobile websites, apps, advertising and integration with local and offline promotions. The future of mobile is even brighter as outlined in this report from Mobile Marketer including Mobile payments, Advertising, the continued effectiveness of SMS, mobile social media and search.

content marketing 2012
B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends (pdf). The second annual survey from Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs tapped over 1,000 B2B marketers and shows continued investment in content marketing as well as its uses and intersection with other channels like social media. This report provides useful insight for B2B marketers to gauge where their peers are investing, challenged and applying best practices content marketing in 2012.

infographic digital marketing 2012

Digital Marketing Budget Trends for 2012. What are the lowest cost but most effective online lead generation tactics? Where are companies investing in their marketing for the coming year? 6smarketing assembled a great collection of digital marketing budget trends ranging from overall digital marketing spend to online advertising and mobile marketing.

Internet Statistics North America Econsultancy

Internet Statistics Compendium North American Edition.  This isn’t a report or infographic on future trends, but a collection of statistics compiled by Econsultancy regarding: Affiliate Marketing, Internet Advertising, Web Analytics, Social Media, Search Marketing, Mobile, Email Marketing, E-commerce, Customer Experience and Technology Adoption. Part of seeing future trends is having a baseline of data on what’s happened in the past. This report, which is one of many you get with a paid Econsultancy subscription $495, is a useful compilation of that kind of data.


PoorSo SoOKGoodAwesome (8 votes, average: 4.13 out of 5)

Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Lee, I agree that we will all need to adapt as technology and online marketing channels evolve. Yet, with any change or innovation, I hope that marketers will keep sound marketing principles at the core of their tactics. No matter the channel, the message, the product or service, I suspect that a multichannel approach will remain viable.

    • Hi Elaine, I agree that core marketing best practices shouldn’t be lost in an effort to stay current. 

      I also wonder if some of the core marketing principles we’re familiar with might just be up for a change too?  The notion of promotion might give way to participation, for example, when it comes to creating products/services and awareness of their value to buyers. 
      Myself included, it seems that many marketers have been chasing channels (vs. customer behaviors and trends) as a more convenient way to predict and scale marketing effectiveness. It’s easier to plan and budget for SEO, Email and Display for example, because we know they “work”. But do we know why exactly?  And for how long? It’s difficult to plan for the unknown, but can’t we plan for better adaptability for whatever comes? That’s a big part of my point in the post. 

      • I agree that adaptability is the ideal, Lee, yet it may be a tad more challenging for smaller organizations that lack “the infrastructure and partnerships that will allow them to evolve and innovate at greater speed.”

        • Smaller organizations are in an even better position to adapt. Infrastructure is for larger companies but partnerships are for everyone. Plus smaller organizations by nature of their size (but willingness is required as well) to be nimble.

  2. Adapt or die.

  3. Nice Article. I think in 2012, In internet marketing Social Media will play an important character. Mainly Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.

  4. We would certainly agree that companies are going to evolve their ability to adapt more quickly, especially where mobile technology is concerned. In 2012 we are going to see an even larger use of mobile technologies and companies will need to be there on the forefronts to take advantage.

  5. Hi Lee, Great post here. Adaptability will make or break your company’s 1-5 year plan for sure. Wanted to mention that we at Awareness put out an eBook on 2012 predictions too.  We interviewed 34 top marketing and brand strategists.  Like you’ve indicated in your post, mobile will be big as well as other prognostications about big data, marketing integration, and thoughts on other challenges and new tools ahead.  Interested to hear if you have any feedback.  Here is the link: http://bit.ly/toHjje

  6. The best prediction I have seen for 2012. Would this hold good for Europe as well?


  7. On line marketing blog comments

  8. hi this is my test 

  9. Google this year is going to get rid of a lot of copied web site. Which is good. Web sites like this will stay.

  10. Avatar IT Support says

    The marketing landscape is changing fast. it is critical to keep adjusting your approach to fit the market trends on the street and online. It consulting is the right approach to getting the right marketing strategy in place.

  11. Avatar jessicamiller758 says

    In online Marketing and business promotion things are  constantly changing so you really need to read updates everyday. For you to have an effective strategy you have to invest time and effort.

    Jessica Miller Online fax free