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Every new year, we strategists like to take stock of the social media landscape and predict where everything is moving. What does 2014 have in store?

Facebook [Finally] Announces Video Ads
As of mid-December, a small number of Facebook users will begin to see sponsored video ads in both their desktop and mobile News Feeds as part of the network’s largely anticipated video ad offering. According to Facebook, “promoted videos” will automatically begin to play within the News Feed on mute. When a user clicks or taps on the video, the unit will launch into full-screen mode and begin to play sound. Conversely, if a user chooses to not engage with the promoted video, they can continue to scroll through their News Feed uninterrupted (similar to in-stream units currently live on the platform).

Though not explicitly stated in Facebook’s video ad announcement, these new units are directly targeting television network ad dollars. In a Facebook sales presentation sent to the platform’s PMD partners, Facebook cites an eMarketer study saying time spent on digital will surpass TV in 2013, noting people open their phone 100 times a day, and Facebook 10-15 times per day. In addition to TV dollars- Facebook also takes aim at YouTube advertising, claiming that in narrowly targeted YouTube campaigns, the average online reach is 38% accurate, and on Facebook, the average reach is 89% accurate.

A digital-centric look at 10 trends for 2014. 

In the shadow of last week’s Black Friday rush, the marketing community is reflecting on this year’s tactics to prep for the next holiday. One report in particular left everyone questioning the effectiveness of social media in referring holiday sales: According to IBM, which tracked transactions across 800 U.S. retail websites, only 1 percent of Black Friday online orders were made from people who visited a social network immediately before.

This seemed like a shockingly low number, especially when looking at a Crowdtap study back in August that suggested 65 percent of holiday shoppers utilize social media to find the perfect gift. Perhaps even more significant, 67 percent of respondents from the study reported that they had made a purchase based off of inspiration from social media.

So when you compare what IBM reported versus what Crowdtap found, there is an obvious disconnect. At first I thought, “Perhaps brands weren’t offering enough incentives via social to drive sale?” But then I found reports regarding the social media activity of some of the largest retailer stores, many of which had hundreds of thousands of “engaged actions.” Clearly social media was buzzing.

When we talk about digital marketing, we often find ourselves telling the same story: One that starts and ends with change. There’s a seemingly unending appetite for these conversations. I imagine, and it is certainly true in my case, that there’s comfort in hearing someone else acknowledge the speed of mutation.

In 2012, I listened to the same presentation I’d heard in 2008. The characters changed only slightly, and the plot was copied to every last ‘t.’ In all fairness, I’m sure I’ve given the same presentation, rang the same bells to herald the coming of a new age and the ever-opening doors to the wide world. Most of us have.

As I listened to the speaker list facts and figures, trends and tools, I started to wonder: Despite everything, what’s stayed the same?

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