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Home Page > Writing > Digital Trends for 2014



by Brad Hines 12-29-13 1:35 pm

In 2013 we saw some things that fizzled out, went sideways, and that took off. Here's some digital predictions, especially in marketing, for 2014:

Curating influencers to be brand ambassadors for bespoke campaigns

2014 more than ever before will be the year of advertisers seeking to use everyday people with influence. While it would be hyperbole to say that advertising is dead, it is safe to say that marketers are tired of both traditional advertising, and even the unfulfilling methods like Facebook Sponsored posts and Google Ad words. The conversion rates after all, are often terrible, social media users are already inundated with commands for their attention, and sponsored ones direct from the underlying advertiser so often just turn them off.

Instead, advertisers will continue to recognize in 2014, the power of reaching out to bloggers on an individual basis for both their credibility and their influence in a given topic. Look at models like that of IZEA and their platform, who currently broker out social media users to companies in pay-per-tweet/pay-per-post models. The beforehand influence can be measured empirically with numerous methods, ragging from Klout/Kred/Peer index score, to Twitter following, and any other social media signal score in between. Today for example, Pinbooster solicited me for my Pinterest account, to pin a photo of a particular wristwatch to my boards, with the suggestion it was an excellent gift. I did this. Despite my transparency per FTC rules that it was a paid endorsement for that watch maker, friends who know me will put extra credibility in my behest to buy that particular watch, as is the case will personal endorsements.

triberrTriberr as another example, the niche blogger social media network, is paving the way with their new ambassador program they are spearheading, where advertisers can pay the social media network for a curated group of individual influencers (ambassadors) in a bespoke manner, for campaigns. All of these examples follow the greater notion of PR trumping advertising, and the digital/crowdsourcing model is now allowing for it to be done in a highly targeted manner, from people who others trust for their credibility in given topics, vs. a mere shill person in a TV spot.



There is currently a trend of the digital world intersecting with the physical world, this is happening in a few major ways like location awareness, robotics, telepresence, QR codes, wearable devices, mobile wallets and more.

"The Internet of Everything"

The Internet of things, or IoEfliike facebook like counter

The Internet of Everything is pretty much the cornerstone of the Internet being tied into the physical world, namely physical objects being "smart", tied into big data, our preferences, social media networks, etc. Essentially, being tied-in to all things Internet, and the unifying theme amongst "stuff". We will see more real-world physical products as an example, being custom made with the sole function of something related to the Internet. Consider for instance, the Fliike, a real life Facebook "like" counter made by Smiirl, that brick and mortar business can display in their storefront. The first 500 on order are already sold out.

Where the Internet of Everything needs to figured out to really takeoff however, is in the frame work. It's nicer if your refrigerator can talk to your dishwasher and back, rather than be a stand alone item. Right now a framework for that kind of inter-object communication is still weak.

Looking at an example of an incredible smart product so far, check out the Nimbus made by the quirky nimbuscrowdsource product design site I am a member of, Quirky. It is a real world set of gauges for your Internet life. Pretty cool.


Location Awareness

Location awareness defined 2012-2014 in the Internet and digital world. It seems like everyday we were hearing about a new app that was going to tie-in our physical location via GPS with some kind of useful data to report back to us, in a tidy 99 cent app. Watch in 2014 as Location Awareness matures–more relevant uses of it, and interesting hacks into the social space via Oauth. One example of an interesting location awareness premise is that of geospatial advertising-serving us up advertisements on the spot and more of them, based on where we are, or even who we are. Maybe you'd walk past as store front with the app open, and since it's after 6pm that bakery now has a coupon to tell you it's half off. And since you liked "dogs" on Facebook, the ad offers you their home made dog biscuits they make too.


The merger of Bitcoin and digital content

Matt Branton of Coinlock gives his thoughts on Bitcoin:

bitcoin note

"It allows anyone to effortlessly sell anything digital in the Bitcoin economy. I'm obviously biased in this regard, but I think 2014 is going to see major disruption in the payments space as Bitcoin gains steam. I think you can think of the Bitcoin ecosystem as analogous to the Internet in 1990, the first stirrings of commercial interest, and a lot of uncertainty about its adoption and future. The technology is so fundamentally disruptive to existing businesses that I think rapid adoption is a near certainty."


Sites like, and concepts like Growth Hacking come to mind.

I don't have much to say on these, so let's call them "honorable mentions". I think the concept sort of speaks for itself, but in 2014, part of waging through the deluge of data that is all things digital, will be automating as much as possible can be. IFTTT, as in "If this then that", is the leader in 3rd party automation tools with their "recipes" they allow users to utilize. I did my first one the other night when I made it so I was notified automatically every time a client had a blog post up so that I can share it for him. IFTTT took his RSS feed, and made a script to that when it had something new, I am e-mailed.

Growth hacking is when websites build in hyper-acceralted marketing into their design by leveraging sharing and social. Example–a company offers you an immediate discount on a product when you share on a social network, that is growth hacking.

Wearable Devices

Wearable devices will see more growth in 2013 as the materials to produce them become cheaper, and the devices themselves become more relevant. While Google glass has gone a bit sideways, it will be interesting to watch its development along with a few other key devices, like smartwatches.

Further out on the fringe of wearable devices is that of bio hacking/grinding, like implanting actual electronics in the body, say a security chip, to wave your hand for entry into a door.

An interesting mashup of QR codes and Wearble tech is a new product called Smart Pjs. Interactive kid's pajamas for the parents to be assisted in reading their kids bedtime stories!

QR Codes

It's been hip to say these are dead, the tiny scan codes that you see everywhere you can scan with your  qr codecell phone and an app. I don't think they are. Know that not only are people are still learning how to recognize them and use them on the user side, but on the curation side, people are still learning what they can do with them, and there is a lot. I barely scratch the service in: Marketing and branding your business with QR codes 10-31-12.

Mobile Wallets/Kiosks, etc.

Expect more storefronts this year where you will be able to pay with mobile wallets like Google Wallet, Isis, and The Level Up. Another cool concept yet to be seen if will catch on, is digital charging stations-no this is not the Internet per se, but certainly an industry that has sprung up around the mobile device proliferation.

Additive manufacturing aka "3D Printing"

makerbot replicator 23D printing if you aren't familiar with it, is a unique process-now available in the home for as low as $400-where you can use a desktop "printer" and CAD software on your computer to "print" out physical objects, typically in the form of ABS plastic. Makerbot is a leader in the household 3D printing industry. The process is revolutionizing manufacturing, but what's really the driving force behind it is the internet and the forums where people trade their blueprints in an open source fashion. Resolution on 3D printers is now shattering the "blocky" looking productions of yore. Look at the smoothness in this model tractor made my Makerbot's Replicator 2. Read my in depth article I am authoring on the topic.


I don't think anyone thinks social media is going away in 2013. It may ebb and flow in and out of different mediums, with different trends of user activity, but here's what to expect for in social media this year:

Social Media Marketing getting more focused, and more relevant

With this exception of Trader Joe's, Marlboro, Viagra and a few others at the time of this writing, there isn't a major company who hasn't at least dabbled in a lil' social media. After years of promising to figure out how to make a profit, big social media (Facebook, twitter, etc.) is learning how to monetize.

Oh yah, and expect to see the trend of sites optimized for mobile really coming into its own. Adaptive and responsive design sites took off in 2013, and as mobile stays relevant, we will continue to see the trend of sites designed for cross platform capability.

Embedable posts, along with video messaging will be what is hot in social media for 2014. Watch us content creators will increasingly utilize aggregating content from social media networks to embed right in a post like the one below:

OAuth code/Api explosion

Oauth as I mentioned already, is the open protocol that let's web developers "hack" into another website's HTML in a secure manner to receive partial information, for example, a few of the startups below will let you join with Facebook, heck, they depend on it or they don't know who you friends are. When you join a website and it offers for you to sign in with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. and your profile and followers are already there, that is the power of using Oauth. Prepare to see more sites using this as social media more deeply ties the internet together in a dynamic way.



I've personally witnessed what I think is a growing social phenomenon, of people acknowledging addiction to the digital world, or just plain distaste for it compared to its authentic counterparts. When I say "authentic counterparts" what I mean is: when your friends want to play Nintendo Wii Bowling, but you want to go do vinyl player digital backlashto an actual bowling alley, then you are exhibiting "digital backlash". Another example could be that you are tired of listening to MP3s, and want to hear the "warmth" of vinyl records. And if you ever decided to write your friend a letter-gasp-with a pencil and paper, then you are a digital backlash all-star.

I believe that this trend is a natural progression emanating from not aversion to technology, but rather, an appreciation of substance that people are beginning to miss. So call this the anti-digital trend, which makes it very relevant to the digital world. Listen to my talk on Women's Radio about digital backlash.



Please leave your thoughts below, especially if you have a tip of your own to add:

Brad Hines photo picture imageAbout the writer: Brad Hines is the president of, and the founder of He is a digital marketing and social media strategist. A writer as well, he typically writes about Internet, e-commerce, and marketing. His best marketing advice is that marketing really comes down to story telling and how well you can do it. He can be followed on Twitter:


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