A New Year means new digital trends that brands must consider if they want to produce effective campaigns. 2013 was marked as the year that the last stragglers finally got on the online bandwagon. Now that everyone is on board, 2014 looks set to be an exciting year for new technologies and ways of communicating.

As widely predicted last year, visual content (both video and photo) exploded in a number of ways. Most notable was the rise of Instagram, with the social media image sharing app of choice reaching 150 million monthly active users. And who will forget that ‘selfie’ made it into the Oxford Dictionary thanks to celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Justin Beiber.

So, now that we have closed the door on 2013, what can companies and brands expect from the digital world this year? Below are our six key trends that we foresee having the biggest impact in 2014:

1. Social TV: viewers become performers
The mixing of social media and TV will be one of the hottest, and the most fun, interactive digital experiences of 2014. Recent surveys have shown that 36% of UK viewers use social media whilst watching TV. It may be that 2014 is the year where viewers can interactively affect and change TV shows’ storylines.

2. Making money from ‘moment’ commerce
2013 saw the explosion of mobile commerce, but it looks likely that 2014 will be the year of moment commerce. Starbucks dipped its toes into this at the end of the last year, allowing consumers to purchase drinks for friends simply by sending a tweet or send them as birthday gifts on Facebook. The end goal? Making it as easy and quick as possible for people to buy your product.

3. Prank-vertising
From Carrie-style telekinetic coffee shops to recreating the end of the world, unsuspecting members of the public are increasingly being used to create great viral content. This is the ‘Beadle’s About’ style marketing prank where unsuspecting consumers are put into unusual situations, filmed and then spread over the internet. Love it or hate it, you cannot deny it is getting traction.

4. The rise of niche networks
With traditional social media networks making it harder for brands to be found in an organic / natural way, we feel that this is the year for niche sites. These will be the networks where you will be able to get in front of your customers. The added benefit is that these sites are much more targeted and often provide a cheaper advertising solution.

5. Brands become entertainment companies
Brands are seeking to engage with consumers through compelling content that tells a story, but a simple blog and a YouTube channel will no longer cut it! Many leading brands (like Red Bull) are becoming full blown media publishers, sharing content in multiple formats across a variety of social media platforms. Expect to see more brands bypassing traditional media gatekeepers by publishing their own high-quality, easily shareable content.

6. Cognitive Computing:
Even though it has already started, it’s the beginning of a new era, where systems learn and interact with people. In essence, instead of being programmed to anticipate every possible answer, systems will be able to sense, predict and think to perform tasks. Remote controlling of homeware appliances is only a tiny fraction of its potential.

These are our predictions for 2014 but, with the digital space constantly changing, what we think of as being new, hot and innovative today may be old news by tomorrow. It’s also likely that 2014 will bring with it topics, networks and apps that we haven’t yet considered!

Feel free to share what trends / insights you think brands need to be aware of in 2014.

Philippe Jeanjean

Philippe Jeanjean is Head of Digital at Publicasity

Follow on Twitter: @Pjeanjean