A Predictive Gaze
Look back with me, if you will, to the halcyon days of late October 2005. At the time, the words "YouTube" and "time-shifting" hadn't yet slid onto the buzzword-spouting lips of self-appointed media pundits. Network shows hadn't yet been made available (legally, anyway) for streaming on the Web. And frustrated writers staring at nearly blank computer screens hadn't yet figured out a way to stretch their MySpace-will-rule-the-universe screeds to the required 500 words. Ah, we were so young and innocent then.
So to answer your question: No, I don't have the slightest idea what we're going to see in 2007, either. But I can, based on gut hunches and other material, offer a quartet of predictions.
>Consumers want to have choices about the where/when/how of their media consumption. They'll be given so many choices by overly aggressive content providers that they're likely to retreat into fetal positions. We've seen a content overload in the last year with popular TV shows like Lost available via the video iPod. What's next? Charlie Rose on your handheld? Deal or No Deal novellas? Advertisers, predictably, will find themselves several steps behind (but really, kudos to the ones that kind of figured out the Internet thing - several years after the fact). The handful with a high-enough tolerance for risk and a willingness to challenge conventional wisdom by investing in new platforms and techniques - hello, Nike - will reap the benefits.
>Old media, like old quarterbacks playing behind offensive lines, will get its set-in-its-ways ass kicked. Newspaper bean counters will continue to complain about the exodus of classified advertisers to Craigslist, then act terribly offended when anybody suggests that they might come up with a solution of their own. Free online classifieds on their own sites for any print classifieds customer, maybe?
>Cell phones will assume all functions of the human cerebral cortex. Okay, maybe not quite. But the "third screen" (or is it the fourth?) seems destined to realize its potential as a marketing medium in 2007. Many mobile phones can handle 30 seconds of video at the rate of 15 frames per second - darn near TV quality - which will allow advertisers to start appealing to consumers in a decidedly non-texty manner. One caveat here: Marketers should be careful to secure permission from consumers before blitzing them on their phones. Given the cell phone's status as one of the few items consumers take with them wherever they go, they won't take kindly to unwanted, unsolicited intrusions.
>People like me will keep yammering the same refrain about the "future of media" ad infinitum. Which is: The marketers and media companies that "win," so to speak, will be the ones with the sharpest and most agile media talent. Solid creative is easy to come by; individuals who know how to plan and where to place it are considerably more elusive. Just as green is the new black, planners in the new marketing world will become demigods.