Digital trends round-up – January 2014

Each month we bring you the FreshMinds digital trends round-up – a summary of innovations, new technologies and the latest digital trends to help you navigate today’s fast-paced, tech-enabled world. This month Apple’s iBeacon technology,  mobile payments service Zapp, Google’s Shared Endorsements and Jeremiah Owyang’s new venture Crowd Companies which is helping brands embrace the collaborative economy have hit the news.

iBeacon comes to US stores, providing new opportunities for location-based targeting

US retailers have been quick to recognise the huge potential of Apple’s new location-sensing technology iBeacon for targeting customers in-store, with Macy’s, SafeWay and Giant Eagle making use of the technology. iBeacon works by using Bluetooth transmitters to push messages to iPhone users who have downloaded a compatible app. Allowing retailers to send coupons and reminders to shoppers as they reach different points within the store, we predict iBeacon technology will spread fast.  With location-based targeting applicable to many other sectors, it’s unlikely that its use will be confined to the retail industry alone. In fact, they’ve even spread to the FreshMinds office so look out for our blog post on iBeacon technology next week.

Zapp mobile payments service takes off

The mobile payments service Zapp looks set for success ahead of its launch this autumn with five UK banks already partnering with the service. Nationwide, Santander, First Direct, Metro Bank and HSBC will all integrate Zapp into their existing mobile banking offerings, enabling customers to pay both in-store and online, without having to use a card or cash. Whilst many attempts to introduce mobile payments have failed, this is the first to be backed by a number of major banks. With this in mind, a cashless society doesn’t look to be far off and retailers will have to start considering changes to their existing payment systems if they are to take full advantage of this new development.

Leading brands keen to tap into collaborative economy

The collaborative economy has long been associated with start-ups like Airbnb and Kickstarter, but now big brands are looking to get in on the act too. 24 global companies including Visa, Nestlé and Intel, have joined Crowd Companies, a brand council that seeks to help big businesses tap into the collaborative economy. Not only will Crowd Companies help members share knowledge and learn more about the phenomenon, it will also give them access to an innovation network of start-ups. With the world’s leading brands expressing an interest in the collaborative economy, this trend looks set to transform the business models of even the biggest companies and encourage increased collaboration between large corporates and small start-ups.

Shared Endorsements from Google – an effective marketing tool or a step too far for consumers?

This week Google announced they will be launching a new service called Shared Endorsements. The service draws many parallels with Facebook’s controversial Sponsored Stories feature in that it harnesses users’ names and profile pictures to add a further dimension to their adverts. The service is sure to be popular with marketers, allowing them to create more authentic and compelling adverts. But for consumers, it could be a step too far. Due to privacy concerns, Facebook’s Sponsored Stories will be discontinued as of April, so it will be interesting to see how Google’s offering fares.