Digital media is transforming how marketers engage with customers and prospects. Whether you’re marketing to business executives or consumers, it’s critical to monitor the fast-changing digital media space. So what’s on the horizon for digital media in 2012, and what does it mean to marketers?

Three marketing experts shared their forecasts recently at a program sponsored by the American Advertising Federation. Adele Pellicane of Traffiq, Inc.; Larry Weissman of Top Line Revenue, Inc.; and Scott Chapin of Marcus Thomas, LLC were panelists. Michael DeAloia of Emerging Chefs of Cleveland moderated. Here’s what these digital media pros see on the horizon and some insights for using digital media in your smart marketing strategy.

Here are seven digital media trends to watch.

  1. Real-time engagement. Chapin sees marketers continuing to move people from traditional to digital media in real time via such tactics as QR codes. “Everybody’s trying to figure out ways to make this transition easy for people,” he says. Another example recently covered by Adweek is the plan by Shazam, developers of the innovative iPhone and Android sound recognition apps, to link audio via tags from this year’s Super Bowl ads to advertisers’ websites.
  2. QR codes. Though advertisers are rapidly adopting QR codes in marketing campaigns, panelists agreed that widespread use of QR codes by consumers won’t take hold until smart phones have built-in QR reader apps. “Using QR codes will grow exponentially when apps are pre-installed on smart phones,” Pellicane predicts.
  3. The power of video. “Mobile marketing plus video is a huge trend in general, but especially for tweens,” notes Weissman. “It’s how they consume media—and it’s not on the TV in the living room.”
  4. The growth of Google+. “Social is a huge part of Google’s strategy,” says Chapin. “It’s being integrated into nearly every Google product. Google+ will slowly gain in relevance and eventually we’ll be discussing it in the same vein as Facebook and Twitter.”
  5. Easier ways to influence others. “ ‘Share this’ buttons are creating digital versions of kitchen-table conversations between a few people and many people,” Weissman notes.
  6. Co-watching. Viewing a mobile device or tablet computer while watching television is a growing trend. “Marketers are trying to figure out how to integrate this and drive cross-device connectivity,” Chapin observes.
  7. Measurability. Weissman says new tools are on the horizon to measure audience access via the web, which may create a way to buy digital-media exposure based on gross rating points. “Marketers want the ability to measure and analyze a consumer’s path from traditional to digital, to track the user’s experience from end to end, such as from an app to a website,” Chapin explains.

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Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing which provides marketing strategy and creative services to leading business-to-business and consumer marketers. Read her blog for more marketing tips at http://www.gianfagnamarketing.com/blog.