Mining the depths of digital

Michael McDermott

An unprecedented volume of data and the technologies that allow marketers to use it are driving major breakthroughs in digital marketing.

A quick online search for "most important digital marketing trends" returns more than 78 million hits in less than half a second, with most of the headers containing modifiers like "huge," "smart," "key," "must-have," and "hot." No doubt, many of the trends at the other end of those links are huge or smart or key to somebody, but separating the wheat from the chaff in this enormous and rapidly changing universe is a critical challenge that brand marketers face every day.

"I think one of the biggest challenges is staying on top of all the new technology, channels, and formats that keep popping up overnight," says Elaine Lawson, director of U.S. digital marketing at MasterCard Worldwide. "We are constantly in test-and-learn mode, looking to take advantage of everything that is out there in small bites, even if we are not 100 percent sure of what will and will not work." Among the digital developments MasterCard is experimenting with are mobile apps, mobile commerce, tablets, location-based services, user-generated content and curation, and social engagement.