Pretty ingenious title, eh?

Because there aren’t enough year-end lists running around the internet, I thought that I would add my thoughts on 11 Trends in Search, Social Media and Mobile.

  1. Mobile Will Be 100% Mainstream: This has been a burgeoning trend, and although smartphones represent only 30ish percent of all phones sold, mobile is where its at in 2011. With an ever increasing number of local themed searches, along with the relevance and social opportunities presented by mobile context, mobile will be mainstream. In fact, there will be dozens, if not hundreds of companies, both big and small, that are mobile first and web second. Think about the opportunities in publications, like Murdoch’s upcoming The Daily or the tablet-friendly folks at uber-cool women’s magazine, VIVmag (disclaimer, they are a client…doesn’t mean that they aren’t cool, tho). Mobile is mainstream, and everything, from search to social to media consumption will be driven by the pointed end of mobile. Mobile is no longer an ancillary strategy, it is the primary strategy around which you build the rest. And yeah, I mean that…think mobile first and let your bigger channels follow its lead, because the growth will be driven by mobile.
  2. Tablets Will Continue to Change the Way The We Consume Media: Regardless if it is an iPad or a Streak or a Galaxy S, tablets will continue to change the way that we consume media. And by media, I mean all of it…text, video and print. While the tablet will not be the primary way that people engage with content, it will be the way that people that you want to capture will consume content. The people that create influence have started to move from laptop to tablet. And, the tablet is more personal, it is more engaging. Also, it is the way that children WANT to consume content. My laptop screen is covered with fingerprints from my children wanting to touch the YouTube videos, video games and everything else that they look at on the screen. On a tablet they can… The physicality of the tablet experience broadens the media consumption landscape. Tablets will create new and engaging UI enhancements that will define your customer’s expectation.
  3. Social Media Moves To The Forefront: With 500 million users, Facebook is a significant economy. Facebook is a new country to market into. And with search engines using social signals to define relevance and the “Like” button being incorporated all over the internet and Twitter feeds being archived in the  Library of Congress, social is the main stream. Social is integrated into our lives (see Chris Brogan’s post of families running on Facebook…) and it begin its battle for position with television as the primary way we access content and engage with commerce…it is BIG and getting bigger. Facebook may crash someday, and Twitter go by the wayside, but the social paradigm is now a fundamental part of the American (and global) media scene and will continue to infiltrate all forms of media.
  4. Context Becomes the New Normal: Between Facebook Places, Google Latitude, your phone’s GPS, it is easy for everything that you do to have a geo-location context, and in 2011, context will have increased importance in every information interaction that you have. Imagine that context comes not only from place (as it can easily now), or device (as it certainly does now), but from historical activity (as it does now) and the expected proclivities of your social graph (this is starting to happen), and based on all of the demographic and psychographic data available to whatever service you are querying, the chances that the information that you get will be contextually personalized specifically to you is very high. And the marketing that you engage with during these highly contextual services (Facebook, Google/Bing, Foursquare and so on…) will be weirdly serendipitous…as these contextual clues get better, you will find that your level of engagement, through suggestions, ads and more will be spot on…and your interactions will be contextual.
  5. Online and Offline Converge: Google has been pushing us to real world locations through maps and local listing for a long time, but the bridge between online and off-line became even blurrier when Google launched the “in stock” offering, telling you which local stores had the product that you were seeking on their shelves. eBay got into the game with Milo, and there have been mobile players in the space, like S’Lifter for a long time. But Google brings such enormous scale that the online to offline bridge now has structure and validity. Moving ahead, this bridge will become sturdier and become a primary part of our online experience. With NFC and mobile payments rising, I would expect the online discovery and off line consummation become an even bigger part of the retailing experience in 2011.
  6. Photos Create Opportunity: From Google Goggles to Amazon’s nifty Remember feature of their mobile app to Instagr.am, photos are an important part of our everyday experience and will continue to provide our social networks (both online and offline) with important clues about where we are, what we are doing, and how we experience the world. In 2011, photos will begin to morph from memories to key clues on context. And while that may sound spooky, it isn’t (because you can always control who sees what and that which is shared). But your photos are captured memories, and as we leverage the social graph to share ourselves with those that are meaningful to us (personally, professionally, commercially, etc) the sharing of photos becomes not only an act of remembrance, but an active, fluid expression of our life as we experience it. As image recognition continues to improve, we will start to be able to curate and stream photo themes that will truly become living representations of who we are. Photos will create opportunity by giving us an evolving narrative experience so that we can share, and those real world items that we denote in our streams can help (if you allow it) marketers create truly relevant opportunities for you (imagine asking both your friends, and your favorite clothing brand what tie should I wear with this shirt?). Photos will help you create opportunity for expression, context and meaningful consumption in new ways of 2011.
  7. Search Is Everywhere: Search is simply everywhere. Google has quietly making search a part of everything that you do online (the universal box in Chrome is a pleasant example) and as Google Instant spreads to more devices, search becomes less of a conscious activity and more of a natural part of navigation to information. For Google Chrome users, the transition to having everything (search and URL entry) happen in one box makes this a very easy transition. I would look for the paradigm to start shifting away from dedicated search interfaces (like Google.com and Bing.com) to search results starting to show up as suggestions as you start typing as the normal paradigm. Search will continue to insert itself into what you are doing rather than being something that you do. And as search engines start ingesting more information, and the context of what you are searching for becomes more deeply understood, search becomes invisibile and results (both free and paid) become immediate and increasingly relevant. The invisibility of search does not diminish its vitality or effectiveness, but as search become invisible, it becomes the starting spot. And this isn’t just about Google or Bing, Facebook is search driven (although in a different way than a search engine), as is Twitter, Quora and the rest. Search is the way we all get to where we are going, and throughout 2011, you will search more without even knowing it and all of your platforms will continually refine your world into an experience that delivers the needed information…and you will never know the difference…you will just find what you are looking for more gracefully.
  8. Media Fragmentation Begins to Melt: We are all massive consumers of information. From newspapers, to books, to television, to radio, to internet we consume information constantly, and for years, it has been siloed. What you saw on television had no impact on what you read, and what you blogged about had no impact on the news that you got from the New York Times. Well, starting slowly in 2011, you will see all of these siloes start to collapse. It starts with cross-device understanding. Amazon’s Kindle suite does this well (it remembers that you read so far on your iPad, so far on your iPhone and your computer and keeps everything up to date. Now, as we start to listen to more audio broadcasts online, that can be understood (think about how your Pandora likes are remembered from phone to laptop and back), and how your Facebook interactions are platform independent (what happens anywhere, happens everywhere), and now that we are on the edge of connected televisions, all of the media that you consume is now connected, in some way. As the platforms that we trust become more inclusive, and we start to share more of what we consume, we provide richer data to our trusted platforms to provide us with better information. I know this sounds big brotherish, but our consumption habits are indicative, in the same ways that photos are, of how we experience the world. And as more data becomes exposed to the places we trust, they will begin to deliver better information to us. And we are at the very earliest stages of this, but it is really thrilling and allows the entirety of what we consume to shape our future experiences.
  9. The World Continues to Shrink-With Video: Video phones have always been the future, and they are here now. With Skype adding video to their mobile apps, and Apple pushing Facetime, it is hard to escape the idea that you can have a direct video conversation with someone. And while the experience is far from perfect, the closing of distance is amazing. Video communication takes off in 2011. Not just a little bit, but hugely. Distances will shrink, grandparents will see more distant grandchildren, more traveling parents will kiss their kids goodnight. Video communication won’t explode because it is newly possible, but because it is newly easy. Reducing the friction makes video calling a viable and desired option.
  10. Newspapers and Magazines Will See The Light: Walled gardens are all great, and battling with distribution partners over user data will continue for months, but more and more publications will realize that they are information  providers, and not creators of physical things. There will be newspapers and magazines and books for decades to come, but 2011 is the years that publishers truly embrace digital. Digital will not be an afterthought of their print strategy, and the vast majority of their information will be free and easily accessed through points of aggregation (like Google News and Facebook). This will not be because the publishers will succumb to the internet, but that they will finally realize that they have ALWAYS been in the business of information, and the last two centuries of acting like manufactures and distributors has been a foray that distracts them from their primary mission of understanding and representing the world in a thoughtful way. Trapping information on paper was never what they wanted to do…it just so happened to be what they COULD do, and in 2011, more publishers will create more profits for themselves like The Atlantic has begun to. This will not be easy, but publishing will begin to throw off its historic shackles in a meaningful way in 2011.
  11. Movies & Games Will Become More Similar: Games and movies are hits driven businesses. An average selling game or movie doesn’t pay for much more than itself. Games have already started to market themselves like movies do (check out this Call of Duty Times Sq presentation), and the production cycle for movies and games is growing shorter. These two entities will become more and more alike in 2011, and I would not be surprised to see some titles come as true cross-overs, where games become movies and movies games in more interesting ways. They are immersive extensions of one another and I believe that by the end of 2011, we will see movie studios begin to change to experience studios and create deep, seamless engagement with a movie that seems like a game and a game that is as cinematic as a movie.

What do you think?