2011 Digital Review

A review of big digital happenings in 2011

2011 was a torrid year for the financial markets, but even with everyone's favourite doom-monger, Mr Peston, exclaiming “the end is nigh!” the world has thankfully continued to turn.

Only last week, the social gaming company Zynga raised a staggering $1.5 billion. They're the guys who developed 'FarmVille' - the phenomenally successful game for Facebook which allows users to trade in farm animals and foodstuffs.

There have been lows though; NMA closed its (print) doors, and the (allegedly) difficult but hugely influential Mr Jobs left us.

But, all in, we think these are the most notable events of 2011.

Transactional mobile
No annual digital review from the past 10 years would be complete without a mention of mobile. But it really is here now. Our clients (80% of whom are ecommerce) have seen mobile transactions grow significantly in 2011. There is no doubt - the user doesn't think anything of using their smartphone exactly as they would their laptop.

Adoption has been fuelled, especially in the last 6 months, by affordable, usable, handsets. And they're mostly Android-based devices - Joe Public's smartphone of choice.

The stat of the year now seems so obvious: more people will access the web via mobile than desktop by 2013 (Gartner).

Instagram is the App Of The Year
Instagram won Apple’s App of the Year, and rightly so. This red-hot app has been setting users’ iPhones alight all year.

Those familiar with the app will be aware of the ‘Insta-urge’; the urge to photograph anything of interest and then hurriedly apply one of several in-built filters before any of your Instagramming friends get a chance to take a similar shot.

The filters, with names like Amaro, Rise, Hudson, Kelvin (my favourite) and, as real aficionados will know, the now-discontinued Gothic filter (which in true social media style has spurned a 'bring back gothic' hashtag on Twitter) turn everyday pictures into wonderful images. 

As with so many things on the iPhone, it’s all about the simplicity with Instagram. To navigate the app, users are forced to view each image individually. This clever setup means the user tends to follow fewer people, and so they engage more.

Multiscreen Engagement
As anyone who went to a digital conference this year will know, there has been a huge amount of debate around the multiscreen user. Essentially, 'multiscreen engagement' means your previously-attentive TV audience is now distracted by their iPhone, tablet or laptop.

So to maintain revenues, the industry is proposing to introduce content that links the mobile or tablet (they are being distracted by), with the TV subject matter. Whilst, initially this might seem an overly ambitious task, 'TV Execs' (as The Daily Mail would say) are using Twitter simply and well, to achieve this.

Both the BBC and ITV have been suggesting a Twitter hashtag at the start of a programme, whilst ITV2 have taken it to the next level with voiceovers over the top of credits with the pick of the top tweets about the programme’s content.

If you've not yet followed a show's hashing whilst watching TV then we strongly recommend giving it a go. It's a bit like having a direct line into Britain's sofa-talk. And, the poorer (or more surreal) the show, the better the Twitter commentary becomes.

Social wars
Google+ arrived in 2011. Its launch, in true Google style, was low key and uptake has been similarly subdued since. 

To be fair to Google they are still calling it ‘a project not a platform’. Geek speak for 'we still don’t really know what we are doing in social but this is our latest thinking'.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery and Facebook launched 'sponsored stories' not long after Google+'s launch, which was seen as the new network's key asset. The idea being that any form of word of mouth endorsement from even the vaguest of friends could push you to click on an ad.

But, despite popular perceptions, the reality from an advertisers perspective is that Google is still light years in front of Facebook - the data Google actually holds on every web user defies comprehension.

iPad’s first full year
The year of Steve Job's departure has seen the first full year of the iPad. 

Visit data taken from a range of Bray Leino Yucca clients show's that the tablet has continued to be a runaway success. Since June, we’ve seen a year-on-year increase of 630% in iPad usage. 

Interestingly, percentage growth in usage has been higher for our holiday clients than for our retail clients, perhaps reflecting how easy it is for the iPad to be passed around the living room in much the same way that holiday brochures were in days gone by.

In November, Econsultancy reported on stats from Affiliate Window which claimed to show iPad conversion rates to be twice that of standard desktop and laptop computers. The data was taken from Affiliate Window’s advertiser network in August, covering 81.9 million visits, and revealed that the average conversion rate for iPad users was 3.82% against a desktop average of 1.9%.

Yucca’s own data does not match these findings, with relatively little overall difference in conversion rate by device. However, with the growth in iPad usage likely to continue at pace in 2012, we’re keeping a close eye on how best to target these users (not least because the fact that they’ve bought an iPad reveals that they are likely to have significant disposable income, be less price sensitive and be more web-savvy).

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