How we saw the future (in 2012)

Unless you were one of the few people who managed to sidestep the voracious Avatar marketing machine and weren't seduced into donning your 3-D specs to see "the future of cinema", then you have probably been thinking a fair bit about the future and particularly what this coming year will bring.

With as much certainty as a James Cameron budget blowout, 2010 will bring change, particularly for marketers. It already feels like the year that 2009 would have liked to have been if it hadn't been for one giant obstacle, ie the global economic meltdown.

No one's saying it's over, but it's time to look to the future not to the past.

2010 is a bright shiny new year full of promise and challenge. Challenge for instance will come in the form of consumer attention. If you saw Avatar, you were no doubt impressed by its visual magnificence, but how how can you grab a consumer's attention for a marketing message when the race for attention has become so highly evolved? And it's only going to get worse.

Yes 3-D is heading out of the cinemas and into the home; Discovery, IMAX, and Sony announced in the first week of 2010 a new 3-D broadcast network in the US and no doubt you can expect announcements later this year from the usual suspects in the Asia region about similar developments.

On the hardware front 3-D TV's were also one of the headliners at this month's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where makers including Sony and JVC showed large screen 3-D models they have been working on, some of which will be available this year. But what will this mean to advertisers and media buyers, more production costs, more complex buys and no doubt a push to be far more interesting than 2D or traditional broadcast advertising. This is likely to see advertisers be pitched more sponsorships than traditional spots if 3-D becomes a standard over the next few years.

And look at the phone market in 2009 - it was all about the iPhone in Asia where despite it's sluggish roll out and a mixture of hobbled features (the lack of the iTunes store) and restrictive carrier plans it still hogged most of the buzz. However just a week into 2010 Google has dropped its Nexus One bomb onto the global phone market as if to plant a flag in 2010 as the year iPhone was properly challenged.

While early reviews suggest the Nexus won't necessarily be an iPhone killer it does look like it will be competitive. But more revolutionary and less evolutionary than the phone itself is Google's distribution model, where consumers here can buy it directly from Google - does this hint at a trend of straight to consumer selling in Asia which has been largely absent as a distribution model despite its popularity in mature markets like the US and Europe.

Then there's 2009's star player in the social media sphere, twitter, unfortunately for this cutesy monikered platform consumer passions for social media brands seem to burn as briefly as they burn brightly. Despite the fact Twitter allegedly became profitable last year off the back of deals to allow its content to be searched by both Google and Microsoft, the evolve or get out of the way for twitter.

These are just a few trends we'll be watching this year, but we know many more will emerge as R&D budgets start to be restored and companies get confident with product launches again.

If you want an insight into some of the blue sky stuff we'll be watching this year check out page 26-27 of this issue where we have printed the fascinating Trends and Technology Timeline 2010 + created by This map looks at current trends across broad categories from social interaction, news and media to medicine and technology and predicts where they are heading. It's a thought-provoking insight for marketers working across many different sectors.

With that I'll wish you an innovative and prosperous lunar New Year and hope you are looking forward to it as much as we are at Marketing - we'll have plenty to talk about shortly this year and we intend to be pretty vocal about it.