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Digital trends to monitor

Posted 12/24/12

The digital world is changing rapidly with profound implications for how small businesses are found online, in search, on mobile devices and in social media. Here’s my list of some of today’s key digital trends with the greatest potential impact:

• Shrinking space for search results. As Google continues to claim more and more space for paid products on every search engine results page, there’s less available for your business to show up in free “organic” results. Bottom line: Banking on SEO tactics to get found online will keep getter harder.

• Social search soars. Search engines and Yellow Pages-type directories aren’t the only places people look online for businesses. More customers are using social media to search for what they need locally (and elsewhere). If you lack a prominent social media presence, beware.

• Mobile devices own the day. As the power and sophistication of mobile devices grow, they’ve become the “central processing units” for our lives. People already spend an average of 2-5 hours daily on a mobile device. This raises the ante for making sure your business is visible on mobile. About 55 percent of the U.S. population owns a smartphone, and 78 percent of them don’t leave home without it.

• Four-Screen World Rules: No single device or “screen” dominates. People move effortlessly between a PC, smartphone, tablet and TV. According to Google research, 90 percent of consumers begin a task on one device and complete it on another. Content (such as an ad) viewed on one device can trigger behavior on another device. This means businesses can no longer construct campaigns specific to a single device.

• Google Product listing ads gain prominence. Google Product Listings (free) and Product Listing Ads (PLAs) have been around for years but have been given a makeover and will gain momentum as businesses discover that PLAs can be far more effective than simple text ads.

• Big move toward video. Video will continue to explode. Already, 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. There are channels for every interest – more than 1 million of them. Seek out channels that interest your customers and try advertising there.

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