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2014: a digital marketing review of the year

05/01/2015, By Crafted 2014 was another busy year for marketers. Let’s take a look back at some of the most important digital marketing stories of the last 12 months.

January


For the first time ever, the number of text messages sent in the UK fell, with smartphone users preferring to use instant messaging services, such as Whatsapp and iMessage, instead of SMS. According to a report by Deloitte, SMS usage will continue to fall, with instant messaging apps on the rise.

The Apple Mac turned 30 in January, with Apple marking the occasion with its ‘30 years of innovation’ video. It featured many famous faces, such as the likes of Moby and Hans Zimmer, all discussing how the Mac has enabled them to achieve their goals in ways which seemed unimaginable in 1984.

This was also the month in which Google announced the roll-out of another test to the Knowledge Graph, a popup that adds extra information about certain search results. Deemed by some as a success, it was a different story for site owners as the popup added extra links which diverted away from the original website, risking a reduction in traffic as well as potential sales and enquires.

February


In February, it was revealed that 80% of traffic on Twitter comes from mobiles in the UK. The research from Nielsen also suggested that, in using Twitter on a mobile, you are more likely to engage with other users.

Also this month, Google made it even easier for Gmail users to unsubscribe from marketing emails by adding a more prominent unsubscribe button. Was this the end of email marketing? Of course not. Competent email marketers have long known the importance of unsubscribe links, but they spend their time ensuring their emails are so valuable that recipients want to receive them every time. Gmail’s move was just another reemphasis of the importance of high quality emails. 

Facebook celebrated its 10th birthday in February, but choosing not to look to the past, Mark Zuckerburg focused on the future of one of the world’s most popular social media sites. The entrepreneur announced intentions to make  the site sleeker by replacing buttons with touch-screen swipes.

March


In March, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team announced that Google mobile queries may surpass PC searches by the end of the year.  Google deems the mobile takeover inevitable -  there are currently 5 billion mobile devices in the world, compared to only 2 billion PCs.   

Google also made a stand against major guest blog network, MyBlogGuest this month by ensuring it didn't even rank for its brand name. It seemed that Google felt guest blogging was making it far too easy for businesses to build links with poorly written content.

Finally, it was also revealed in March that UK Internet users make more than a billion visits a month to video sites. The research from Experian Hitwise also showed that visiting video sites accounts for 5% of all online activity, with YouTube pulling in 70% of the online video share.

April


April saw Twitter get a redesign, and to many users, it looked rather familiar.  Many tweeters commented on how similar its facelift made it look to Facebook.

It was announced that paid search grew by 25% in the first quarter of the year. Unsurprisingly, Covario announced that Google received 84% of the spending.

This was the month that [not provided] came to PPC. Google stated the move was due to security reasons, with online users preferring not to have their search queries tracked.  Is this the start of a two-tier Google Analytics system, with a paid version delivering an increased access to data?

May


In May, LinkedIn bosses announced that 200 million users will now see tailored Ads in their language. Previously, most adverts were in English, therefore alienating many of the LinkedIn users who communicated in other languages.

We also saw the release of Google Panda 4.0, another algorithm update designed to prevent websites with poor quality content from making their way up the search rankings.

Elsewhere, Facebook announced the launch of its mobile ads audience network, which was expected to further shake-up the advertising sector.

June


Following the EU’s ruling on the ‘right to be forgotten’ Google started to remove links this month.  After the announcement in May, Google set up a web form to enable people to apply for information about them to be removed. 

Another EU ruling in June led to the rights of online shoppers being improved. Changes mean that now additional charging payments and pre-ticked boxes will be banned, amongst other changes, in a hope to stop online scamming.

June also saw Google acquire Skybox imaging. Not only a move to improve imaging and accuracy on Google Maps, Google stated that Skybox would enable it to bring internet access to the less connected areas of the world, as well as to help in disaster relief. This same month, our Search Director, Ian Miller explained how the acquisition would help Google to get a better understanding of the World’s data.

July


In a study by Webtrends in July, research found that 68% of 18-24 year olds are ‘not bothered’ about the amount of data they share with brands.  The over 55-age range are more cautious, with half objecting to data sharing.

Also this month, findings from Igniyte found that British firms lose £46,815 per year due to negative online content.  Negative media coverage comes mainly from competitors and disgruntled employees, with the report also suggesting that only one in five business leaders are satisfied by the way that they are portrayed on their Google page.

More research came from children’s TV channel Nickelodeon, which found that 24% of children are ‘social sharers’. The research by Me, Myself and I grouped the children into four category’s; the ‘social sharers’ category was slightly dominated by boys, with a 24% share.

August


August saw Google announce that it would give a small ranking boost to secure HTTPS/SSL sites.  Adding the SSL 2048 key certificate if appropriate can slightly improve a website’s ranking, but when Google ran tests, it saw that the initiative would affect less than 1% of global searches.

August was a big month for YouTube stars, with research suggesting that young people are now more interested and intrigued by YouTubers than in Hollywood stars.  People aged 13-18 chose the stars of YouTube as the most influential, placing them in the top 5 spots out of 20.

It was announced this month that Amazon had bought video-game streaming site Twitch. The website allows gamers to watch other people playing video games, with the server enjoying around 55 million views a month. The move was seen by some to help Amazon in its challenge to beat other video sites, such as Netflix and YouTube.

September


In September, Apple revealed the Apple Watch, alongside the launch of the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6 is the fasted iPhone yet, 84 times faster than the original. The Watch has been described as the next chapter in Apple’s history, but at $349, it will be seen as a luxury item by most

September also saw Google hire Quantum Computing Expert John Martinis to build new hardware. Google has unveiled plans to create a hardware system, possibly the foundations of a superfast computer, capable of solving problems which current computers can only dream of.

October


October saw the launch of a new social media website, Ello, an ad-free social network which has promised to never expose its users to advertising.  Dubbed the ‘Facebook Killer’ does Ello have the capability to become a huge social media contender, if its users are willing to pay for the privilege?

November


In November, the number of internet users worldwide hit three billion, 41% of the global population. We Are Social also found that the number of mobile users had increased to 3.6 billion.

Facebook launched its new ‘Places’ directory this month, similar to the already established Yelp.  The directory collects local business ratings and displays them in a comparable fashion for users. Facebook is using reviews from trusted sources and user’s friends, unlike Yelp’s model which uses reviews from strangers.

The nation’s hearts melted in November when John Lewis aired its famous Christmas Ad on social media, 24 hours before the television launch.  The ad was viewed more than seven million times in the first 24 hours of release.  Argos also chose to premiere its Christmas ad on its Facebook page, hours before its television release.

December


Facebook’s upset some users in December, launching its Year in Review feature which was quickly deemed as cruel. In showing the most liked photos on a user’s Facebook timeline, a father was presented with a picture of his daughter, who had sadly passed away, as one of the highlights of his year. Facebook has since given an official apology.

On a more positive note for the brand, Facebook also announced plans to take on Google by launching its own internal demand-side platform.  The new system will allow advertisers to bid for highly targeted ads directly on Facebook, rather than independent DSP sites.

December also saw mobile sales in the US increase by 20% on Christmas day. IBM found that mobile traffic accounted for 57% of the online traffic on Christmas day and online sales were up 8% over Christmas, compared to last year.

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