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The New Year Means New Rules for Your Online Presence

By Carl Weiss 

Well I hope all of you got your end of the year celebration out of the way, because I’ve got some news for you. Since the world didn’t come to an end in late December, we are all going to have to keep pace with some of the changes that are in the works for the coming year. When it comes to the Internet, don’t expect business as usual in 2013. So if you are in the “Forewarned is forearmed” camp, here are the five online areas you need to stay focused on for the next twelve months. 

1. Cyber Security - If you will recall from several previous blogs, 2012 saw the threat of cyber attacks take on a whole new dimension as hacking went from being a nuisance to becoming a clear and present danger to everyone from consumers to business owners and banks. Even governments are being hacked. The criminals have formed collaboratives that have the power to hijack, ransom and deny service to millions of people worldwide.

 A recent blog published on points out that, “Cyber security is not just a threat to the average person. Even nations are under the gun when it comes to key internet-based security threats. When it comes to national security, the US Department of Defense feels that  cyber warfare is number three on the top ten list of threats to this country.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently stated that, “Cybersecurity concerns include hackers and criminals. The greater danger is that a cyberattack carried out by nation states or extremist groups could be as destructive as the terrorist attack that paralyzed the nation on Sept. 11, 2001.”

 While the government has the money and manpower to meet the threat head on, businesses and individuals as a rule do not. Therefore you need to be cognizant of the following security issues in the coming year:

• 2013 will see a sharp rise in ransomware designed to steal, encrypt and hold data for ransom.
• With the rise in the number of mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones becoming more prevalent and as a rule less secure, look for a rise in malware delivered via free apps, movies and music to become an even more serious threat to security in 2013.
• Cyberwarfare assets will increasingly become reverse engineered by cybercriminals and turned against banks, businesses and individuals.

2. Online Advertising  - In 2013, the rise of push advertising, as opposed to pull, will become the online norm as consumers weary of the constant stream of ads that bombard them on TV, radio, billboards and print media tune into interactive campaigns that speak to them. After recoiling in 2012 after discovering that search engines,  social networks and and other sites were aggregated consumer information on browsing and buying habits, consumers should gradually become more comfortable in receiving personalized content and offers from these entities. The rise of video ads delivered on everything from computers to smartphones will also mark departure from the way in which businesses market themselves online.

 A recent VentureBeat blog states, “As video advertising continues to evolve from a nice-to-have to a must-have, marketers are experimenting with new tools and strategies, and they are demanding more accountability. The end result is positive in that it challenges the players in this space to innovate and evolve. Recent evidence shows that better ad targeting and more diverse ad formats make it possible for advertisers to successfully move beyond simple :15 and :30 second pre-roll spots. As advertisers grow more comfortable with rewards-based, opt-in formats, we think you’ll see a significant increase in long-form ads in 2013".

 3. Etailing - When it comes to buying and selling goods and services online, 2013 will see the continuation of the growth of ecommerce as businesses seeking to grow in these trying economic times search for ways to take local businesses to the masses. With the cost of setting up, promoting and operating an etail establishment no longer a barrier to entry, the number of niche retailers entering the game can only go up. The rise in mobile devices also signals a fundamental change in the ways in which consumers do their shopping. Businesses that take advantage of these changes will see their companies flourish, while those that ignore these trends do so at their own peril.

 4. Social Media - While the big players duked it out over turf while increasing their stranglehold on the market in in 2012, the coming year will likely see even more innovation and consolidation as the wannabes are either gobbled up or cloned by their bigger brothers. As companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and even Microsoft continue to test ever more creative ways to advertise on both social networks and mobile devices, the trend to move away from text-based ads to video-enabled advertising could potentially revolutionize the way in which online ads are delivered.

A recent CNet blog states, “Google became a financial juggernaut when it answered the problem of how to drive ad revenue, in part with self-service ads. After pouring $1.16 billion into Twitter, venture capital companies want the microblogging giant to step up its revenue machine. And soon. But how to do that is the question. First of all it could develop easier ways to place ads. One advantage it has over Facebook is that mobile is just as good a platform for advertising on Twitter as the Web.”

 5. Birth of Wearable PCs - As much as tablet computers and smartphones continue to change the nature of the way in which the public, shops, reads and gets entertained, the rise of mobile computing is in for yet another milestone as the birth of wearable computers takes hold in 2013. If you think that tablets have revolutionized the way in which the masses compute on the go, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

 Two of the biggest players in the game, Google and Apple are developing wearable devices that will change fashion as we know it. These devices will not only allow users to accomplish many of the same things that they now get by using tablets and smartphones, these next wave devices also have the potential to go where no computer has gone before.

 From engadgetcom"It's been an interesting year for Google's most famous side project. After emerging from the company's suitably mysterious X Lab in April, Glass appeared across the roundtable from Charlie Rose, gave conference attendees a skydiver's eye view at Google I/O, strutted down the catwalk at New York Fashion Week and shared the stage with California Governor Jerry Brown as he signed a bill into law allowing self-driving cars on the state's roads. Wearable computing may end up being the next big thing, but it still isn't just one thing. Much of what is actually now winding up in consumers' hands, are devices that are not full-fledged computers, but things like smart watches and fitness monitors, which offer portions of the functionality promised by the wearables of the future.”

 Not wanting to be out done by Google Glass, it is reported that Apple is developing its own wearable device in the form of a smartwatch that would feature a 1.5-inch organic LED screen and be able to communicate with other Apple devices like the iPad or iPhone. As the new year progresses, expect to see even more technology intrude yet further into our ever more wired world, such as personal robots, 3D printers for the masses, smart TVs and even smart homes.

 As with most of the technological innovations that have come and gone in the past couple of decades, it is up to the individual to decide which technologies to embrace and which to leave by the side of the road. But one thing is certain, when it comes to living in an ever more technologically driven world, rule number one is, “Resistance is futile!”

Carl Weiss is president of the digital marketing company W Squared Media Group. He also co-hosts the weekly Working the Web to Win Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio that airs every Tuesday at 2 pm Eastern.

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