Even though it isn’t quite a new year any more, I have decided to still publish my predictions for 2015 and the things that we will see as the digital world progresses to encompass so much more than just “the internet.” I’ve taken the past month to think about the things that I think are going to emerge, gain traction, and ultimately guide our future behaviors.
Although I outlined five predictions last year, I’m going to stick to three very specific ones this year. They include consumer gadgetry, advertising strategies, and web development practices.
The Internet of Things Will Grow Larger
I’d like to preface this section by saying that I generally dislike the term “Internet of Things,” because it is broad and lacks depth when it comes to describing the sheer amount of products and applications smart devices can achieve through the use of an internet connection.
That being said, this prediction shouldn’t be too much of a surprise to anyone who has been following tech trends for the past few years, but I believe that with the mid-2015 release of the Apple Watch, wearables will become even more popular. I also believe that more people will begin to adopt smart household technologies such as thermostats, locking devices, geo-locating systems, and virtual reality accessories.
This year, we’re really going to see wearable and interconnectable devices jump out of the realm of science fiction and into that of reality. Let’s not forget that along with the Apple Watch release, Facebook is working on Oculus VR technology, Intel has already released the MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory), and Luna just announced its smart mattress cover.
Beacons Will Be Installed Everywhere
2014 saw brands and advertisers taking advantage of geo-location for audience targeting like we had never seen before. Pre-holiday season 2014, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, and Hudson Bay announced that they would be installing over 4,000 beacons at department stores nationwide. Their goal in doing this was to use their mobile applications to geolocate individuals within their stores and send them push notifications with relevant information based on the departments in which they shopped. Using this location data, they could then connect shopping behavior to specific individuals who had signed up to use their apps, better market to them, and ultimately generate more sales.
While this may have seemed like an intrusive measure by advertisers to gain information about peoples’ buying habits just one or two years ago, it is becoming clear that people are coming to terms with sharing more and more information about themselves with third parties. Just take a look at the listing of applications that you have granted access to your Facebook, Google, and Twitter accounts; then take a look at the information that you have authorized them to access.
WebP Will See Greater Adoption Rates
WebP is a super-cool relatively new type of image file format developed by Google that supports both lossy and lossless images, supports image transparency (just like png images), and deals with compression with ease. Not only is this format a great alternative to jpg and png files, but has also been proposed as an alternative to gif formats, as well.
Why does WebP matter so much? Why not just continue to use tried and true file formats that are easily viewable across all browsers (IE and Firefox are not supported at this time)? These types of images not only look better and more high-quality, but also because of their ability to compress well, tend to allow sites to run and load more quickly. This lowers bandwidth, decreases hosting costs, and ultimately improves SEO.
As Google continues to tweak its algorithm, making it more difficult for digital marketers to game the system, marketers are learning that the only way to increase search engine rankings is to work on their sites and organically increase traffic to them. The use of WebP is certainly a way to improve one’s site.