Digital Media in 2010: The Web Goes Real Time

As the year draws to a close, every man and his dog seems to be publishing summaries of 2009 and predictions for 2010. So, though I don’t have a pooch sat by me, I thought I’d take the opportunity of my last blog post of the year to take a look at what 2010 offers the digital world.

2009’s been about evolution. Aside from the death of MJ, swine flu and canny Geordie Jer Mec-Elderry geein an to win X-Facta pet, Twitter has been the social media equivalent of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment: a big story. After Stephen Fry-led explosive growth in the first six months of the year where brands were jumping on the bandwagon faster than a Usain Bolt 100 metres (to see just how fast that is, see below), there has followed a period of consolidation where marketers and journalists alike have been thinking about how to use Twitter effectively.

Elsewhere, Facebook has come to dominate social networking, having doubled the number of page views it receives in just 12 months and having made constant tweaks and updates to its service to keep users engaged. Both MySpace and Bebo, however, have been losing traffic at a rate of knots and, extending the nautical metaphor, Bebo in particular is starting to look like the online version of the Titanic, with users rushing toward the lifeboats as it sinks without trace. The recently launched MySpace Music may well prove the saviour of Rupert Murdoch’s social media vehicle.

So what of next year? Well, 2010 will be all about Real Time. Sparked by our insatiable appetite for up-to-the-minute information together with technologies such as Twitter and Facebook’s status updates, 2010 promises an even more compelling and perhaps even addictive communications environment. We’ve now become accustomed to posting on Facebook and getting a response in seconds. Add to that the fact that smartphones are now more popular than Robert Pattinson on a hen night and you have an environment where it’s all about NOW. It’s all about the moment. And that moment is becoming increasingly fleeting. It’s going to be a challenging and exciting year for brands and marketing agencies.

Real Time will invade everything we do online during the next 12 months. Google launched Wave earlier this year and has just launched real-time search, whereby search results will incorporate even more recent and (arguably) relevant information, such as Tweets. The days of a search result being hours or days old since sites were last crawled, which now seems hopelessly outdated, are over. Geo-tagging will start to become more mainstream, comments and reviews will become even more prevalent. Another Google platform, Android, has already started to make big inroads into Apple’s iPhone domination and could be almost as big by this time next year.

If you think the pace of communications has been fast this year, just wait until 2010. We no longer want to wait for information. Life is too fast, too furious. We now have the attention span of a…well, got bored with that sentence, move on. So have a relaxing Christmas people and then hang on…we’re about to engage warp drive!

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