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(eM+C)—A more urgent need to manage data across channels, an increase in content marketing and the growth of integrated marketing technology programs thanks to acquisitions are three of nine digital and direct marketing trends marketers should be aware of for 2012, according to Bruce Biegel, managing director of the Winterberry Group, who spoke at the DMA2011 Conference & Exhibition held recently in Boston. Here are Biegel’s nine predictions for 2012:

1. It will be yet another “year of data.” In 2012, marketers will begin to approach the growing “big data problem” by developing plans to manage and activate data across channels. “Early adopters will begin to implement solutions such as those that integrate online DMPs [data management platforms] with offline prospect and CRM data sets to manage the conversation with disparate audiences across devices,” Biegel says.

2. Content is the new black. Recognizing that content is becoming the primary driver of engagement—along with the data that informs it—marketers and their agencies will begin to wrap their arms around content marketing.

3. Websites will be device specific. Recognizing that mobile marketing is about devices (e.g., tablets, smartphones), location and intent, “marketers will accelerate the transformation of websites from PC design to device-specific sites,” Biegel says.

4. Cross-digital media buying will increase. As attribution solutions mature and are better able to identify engagement relationships across channels, cross-digital media buying will increase.

5. Improved marketing technology products appear. The first sets of integrated marketing technology products that help automate marketing processes from campaign planning through execution and attribution will appear in 2012 as a result of the acquisitions by large tech players in 2010 and 2011, such as IBM, Adobe and Google.

6. The U.S. Postal Service crisis is put to rest. As the administration and Congress accept a portion of the recommendations put forth by the Postmaster General, including a reduction in post offices and sectional center facilities, the USPS will survive. Also, the six-day mail delivery week will likely remain in place and “forced reductions will be complemented by an agreement on a partial pension reform,” Biegel adds.

7. The pace of mergers and acquisitions accelerates in the digital display sector. What’s more, there will be a continued consolidation of agencies with mobile and social specialties.

8. Privacy regulation moves back into the Washington conversation. Legislators will continue to examine the impact of European Union privacy laws enacted this year. Probable outcomes, Biegel says, “include data breach security legislation and some form of baseline privacy rules around sensitive information, although I don’t see a ‘Do Not Track’ bill being enacted.”

9. The economy. If the U.S. goes into a recession it will negatively impact all measured media channels. What’s more, “marketers will stick to longer test periods as spend tilts back towards retention marketing,” says Biegel.