As we have wrapped up 2011 and look back on another great year for online, what are the digital media trends we need to watch in 2012? Beyond the continued rise of DSPs and much anticipated industry consolidation, here are the developments you need to be tracking.

Now that Adobe has killed Flash for mobile, the move to embrace HTML 5 will undoubtedly be the hottest potato for 2012, HTML 5 is still in its infancy in regards to browser standards, and the pressure will be on to understand the benefits over Flash.

Mobile rich media
The increase in internet time spent with mobile devices will drive advertising to explore opportunities across touch-screen devices. However, there will be a distinction in delivery between standard ads on 3G and rich media for download when connected to Wi-Fi.

Facebook apps
To date, Facebook has been challenged when trying to give brands any opportunity to reach its hugely mobile subscriber base. Now, Facebook has relaunched its mobile offering incorporating HTML 5 apps. The potential for advertisers is definitely there — once agencies figure out how to increase exposure of a potentially buried brand.

Targeted coupons
The many discussions about direct-response focused activity will see a push beyond click-through to look at better ways to maximize consumer response. From online-targeted ads through social media mobile apps to QR codes on billboards or TV screens, agencies will look for technology to move display inventory closer to the end of the purchase funnel — and that just means more coupons.

Social buzz
It’s long been accepted that display drives search, yet it seems social media is rallying people from all media disciplines together — irrespective of whether your focus is online or offline. Justifying brand activity through social buzz will be taken to new heights in 2012 and will have a couple of profound effects.

Brands as publishers
With some brands now having more Facebook “likes” and followers than some media owners, the need to keep the end consumer engaged will hit overdrive. Expect to see brands employ skills from content producers and look at new ways to commercialize their own inventory.

Dual screening
Interacting with content on the screen next to you, while simultaneously viewing linear video content on a large public screen, will become more common, and thus, advertisers will be attracted to this trend. These advertisers will look to develop dual story line content to allow a deeper brand experience for those who choose to interact.

Planet of the TV apps
Due to a shifting consumer base moving from content on demand to content on the move, media owners will look to adopt and monetize apps over browser content — and ultimately TV channels. Expect not only magazines and newspapers to make the shift. A number of TV broadcasters will equally follow suit.

Cross-media measurement
With agencies from China to the U.S. already buying combined reach across TV and online channels via a single iGRP, the media divisions are beginning to be eroded. Questions over methodology will dominate discussions and be hotly debated, but the need for consolidation could overtake the granular thinking. Expect digital and TV buyers alike to each begin to learn the other’s lingo.

Audio watermarking
My top tip for 2012 is to expect audio watermarking to not only make a debut but to become the biggest rising star. Knowing who is in the lounge through connecting TV and mobile together via high-frequency audio signals will not only challenge ratings mechanisms but also pave the way for a new breed of targeted advertising across connected media channels. Naturally questions over privacy will make headlines, though consumer opt-in dual screening and social sharing may bring a natural balance here. Interesting times ahead!

As published on iMediaConnection