Digital Top 20 for 2012

While we are working through the trends for 2013, it’s important we look back at what happened in the year gone.

2012 was a really big year in technology; there were lots of new releases, a few busts, and some really interesting uses of tech by brands.

Some of these examples have already had an impact on business, while others will play out over time.

1. Google Glass

Listed on the TIME best inventions list of 2012Google Glass was launched with a demo video on April 4 and a full live demonstration at Google I/O in June. They’ll pull this technology off if people buy and wear them (there’s a big question around this) and brands figure out how to utilize this, and it could disrupt the advertising universe as we know it.

Demo video

Google I/O live demo

2. Apple became a follower

With the launch of iPad mini, Apple is admitting it’s not driving the market and following the success of others like Samsung. Steve Jobs did an amazing job of leading the company and was said to have a bubble of impossibility that pushed everyone to achieve the impossible times 10. Saying that, the category is maturing and Apple is possibly focusing on other areas, like TV, space travel, and unicorns!

3 Nike+ Fuel Band

Nike’s Fuel Band was really exciting – a product, a marketing tool, and a service for people trying to get fit. It’s clear that Nike is building a product ecosystem around its audience, and it looks like it’s working. Hopefully more brands will look into ways they can use digital to build their own consumer product ecosystem.

A day in the life with Nike+ Fuel Band

4. Google Re:Brief

AVIS, Volvo, Coke, Harvey Gabor, and Amil Gargano were just some of the well-known names involved in a creative challenge Google set to rethink some of the most memorable advertising in a digital world. They tell a fascinating story of how dramatically the world has changed while creative ideas/stories are still the fundamental way of connecting with people, simply the execution has evolved.

5. Redbull Stratos

Planning started in 2005 to launch a man from near-space to attempt the highest sky dive ever. It was truly amazing, almost everyone I know heard and talked about it, so I believe it when Red Bull claimed it achieved tens of millions of dollars in global exposure. It even made a site to tell the whole story from every angle. But it would’ve cost a fortune, so did it deliver ROI? Who knows, but it’s awesome.

6. Windows 8 launches

7. Facebook IPO, Instagram, and ad campaign

Prior to the largest ever, however very unsuccessful IPO in May, Facebook purchased Instagram for a lazy $1 billion and released a global TV campaign that compared itself to chairs and doorbells. The campaign got more than a million “Likes” on Facebook, and lots of criticism. The IPO’s impact was felt by users and brands. However, the most likely outcome is that it’ll be hungrier for ad dollars and spend more time caring about brands. Either way Facebook still fuels the Internet.

8. PSY Gangnam Style goes mental

Korea’s Gangnam Style video becomes the fifth most viral video of all time and knocked Justin Bieber off his mantle of having the most viewed video online. Gangnam hit 100 million views in 52 days, four days faster than Justin Bieber. What can we learn? A few new dance moves. Oh, and while we’re on it, Kony 2012 deserves a hat tip hitting 100 million views in six days, one of the most viral campaigns ever – pity the organizers couldn’t pull off the event.

9. New MySpace beta

Most people heard about it, were impressed, and are eagerly awaiting the full release. Most of the analysis is rumor and hypothetical; it looks like MySpace is trying to compete more closely with Spotify, and have a strong integration with Facebook. It’s got a hot new interface and investor, but it’s all a waiting game until it shares more…

10. Domino’s tracker

Domino’s has had a very busy year. Its Think Oven (crowdsourcing platform) came and went, but my favorite was this bold campaign putting customers’ reviews on a massive billboard in Times Square.

More on that:

11. Pinterest was so hot

It became one of the most discussed new social platforms of the year (in Australia anyway), but it’s uncertain if it’ll maintain its relevance for brands, with traffic growth slowing early this year. There have been lots of case studies showing its impact on e-commerce. However, most attempts in the platform have resulted in fairly small reach and engagement. Stats vary from five to 20 million active users, which is not bad, but nothing compared to Instagram or Facebook’s massive scale.

12. NAB Honesty Ambush

Following its repositioning “breakup” campaign, NAB continues to deliver on its strategy with a really nice campaign where it celebrates the honesty in everyday people. It’s fun, cheeky, and if nothing else is very different from the expected advertising from banks.

13. McDonald’s train timetable

I love simple ideas that come from a real consumer truth and are delivered in practical, meaningful ways. By turning a frustrating experience of delays and train cancellations into a delightful and tasty solution, people went mad for Maccas.

14. London Olympics

The single biggest media event in history, this year’s Olympics was coined as being a truly digital and social event. And we worked closely on it with one of the brands who sponsored it, creating a teaser video and product demonstration video for Samsung. One of our favorite pieces of technical and UX work this year was the London Tracker for News Ltd, which displayed the timetables, results, and trending news in a responsive designed experience. It received millions of visitors, we learned loads, and our servers had a party.

Case study:

15. iPhone5 launch

While it was heavily criticized (I haven’t upgraded yet) and Android (read: Galaxy S3) continues to dominate smartphone sales globally, the iPhone 5 sales beat all previous records to date. It’s lighter, thinner (18 percent), and taller. The standout feature my friends have been talking about is speed. 4G is so much faster than 3G. Oh, and of course the maps, oh the maps! Haha. While Android has had a big year, iPhone sales have still overtaken Android in the U.S. The smartphone space is becoming a very interesting indeed, and brands need to think about the dominate devices to make sense of it all.

16. Google Fiber

Google started rolling out its own fiber network in the U.S., claiming 100 times faster than normal Internet, and initial reviews have been very positive. What does that mean for the NBN in Australia?! Will Google own our digital life physically and electronically? It’s only available in two states in the U.S., but it’s rapidly growing. Check out its blog for the latest.

17. Shazam adds TV tagging

The silent giant infiltrating its way into everyone’s pocket, 250 million people to be precise, tagging 10 million pieces of audio content a day. What’s really exciting is the integration it’s created with TV advertising, enabling brands to create “Shazamable” TV ads that deliver customized brand experiences directly to consumers’ phones. Shazam is enabling the companion app experience for brands without the need to build their own platforms. And it was used by nearly half of the Super Bowl advertisers.

18. GM pulls Facebook ad spend 

GM sent shock waves around the world when it pulled its $10 million media budget from Facebook globally. This reinvigorated debates around the value of social media, ROI, and what role it plays in building brands and driving sales. However, the marketing director behind the decision was fired two weeks later. An interesting outtake from the story is that GM spends $30 million on content, $10 million on advertising, a 3:1 ratio, very different to the days of traditional 1:10.

19. Australia catches up in e-commerce

It was highly anticipated, years in the making, and widely criticized as being way too late, but we redesigned the new e-commerce experience for one of Australia’s oldest and biggest brands – David Jones. It’s one of a few brands that has really stepped up in e-commerce this year, with more to come this year. This will probably see Aussies trust and trial online shopping, which may increase online shopping overall and will hopefully keep more dollars inside Australia.

20. SOPA was pulled

SOPA, the biggest and most controversial piracy bill was debated last year, then quietly pulled in January this year. It offered wide-reaching implications on how organizations and individuals could use the Internet, and gave power to law enforcers that could potentially have damaged the very nature of the Internet.

I know I’ve missed stuff, what do you think?

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Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.