Commentary

Flash-Forward

My favorite new TV drama this fall centers around a global incident in which every person on earth dropped into a state of unconsciousness for exactly 2 minutes and 17 seconds (think of it like a world-wide sugar coma that would happen if everyone on earth ate a Cinnabon at exactly the same time). During that time, everyone mentally "flashed forward" to the exact same time, six months into the future. The characters see a variety of different experiences ranging from joyful and serene to horrific and terrifying. Depending on what they saw in their flash-forward, they are all now on a mission to either embrace the future or stop it from happening altogether.

That got me to thinking. What if we could all see six months into the future? Aside from a huge ratings spike that ABC is hoping for with the season finale of "FlashForward," what else would I expect to see? More specifically, what would the online landscape look like in six months?

  •       Twitter will announce that profitability is just around the corner. As we read this week, Microsoft and Twitter have agreed to bring real-time tweets to Bing. With the first revenue domino finally falling, Twitter will begin printing money 140 characters at a time.

  •      Ad networks will implode. After a continued decline in advertising revenues and a constant barrage of negative commentary from fellow Online Publishing Insider columnist, Ari Rosenberg, the industry will finally collapse. (OK, I don't really see that happening, but I am confident that Ari's been dreaming about this for years, so I thought I would indulge him.)

  •       The Wave will only have a ripple effect. As amazing as the possibilities are with Google's revolutionary Wave, only a small percentage of social media addicts will dive in head-first -- ultimately, it will prove to be too complex for Joe the Blogger.

  •       I will finally win my NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN.com. (A man can dream, can't he?)

  •       The line between "online publishing" and "social media" will become nonexistent. The continued evolution of social media will eventually overtake traditional definitions of publishing as we know it, so when we talk of "online media," the "social" part will automatically be implied.

  •       Yahoo establishes itself as the leader in... well, some things are just as unclear in the future as they are in the present.

  •       While online video will continue to erode the broadcast television audience, the viewing public won't be willing to trade in their satellite dishes for a Wi-Fi connection quite yet. (Check back in another six months to see if viewers under 21 recognize the Hulu brand more than any of the major networks -- that day is coming)

  •       There will be a new player in the online space that we haven't heard of yet that will reinvent the way we think about publishing/networking/communicating/shopping/advertising -- because that is happening on a regular basis already.

  •       I will be replaced as a regular contributor for this column by Joe the Blogger. Ultimately, my editor will get grow weary of reading my pointless television and movie analogies and ask a college intern to provide some meaningful insight for this MediaPost audience.

    So, there's my flash-forward. If you could see six months into the future, what does this industry look like to you? (Don't forget to bookmark this column and check back again in April, 2010 to see if my Carnac-like abilities proved true -- all except me winning my NCAA hoops bracket, because that's just crazy talk.)

  • 6 comments about "Flash-Forward".
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    1. Eric Snelz from Defero, October 22, 2009 at 2:45 p.m.

      Aside from the fact that my beloved U of A Wildcats will win the NCAA in six months, I believe business centric social media will continue to grow at a rapid rate. Everyone of our clients has tasked us to come up with a relevant use for the appropriate channel or channels that would make sense for their customer or prospect base. Our research continues to demonstrate imaginative ways companies are using social in all of its forms to connect. While the ROI is still a question mark, the marketing minds seem open to experimenting in order to find where, and if, social media fits in their marketing landscape.

    2. Kory Kredit from Connection Point Interactive, October 22, 2009 at 4:54 p.m.

      Eric,

      Your Wildcat hallucinations are more delusional than my NCAA tournament bracket victory. Thanks for your feedback on the growth of social media though :)

    3. Monica Bower from TERiX Computer Service, October 23, 2009 at 9:37 a.m.

      I think we'll see the initial signs that the online subscription model really does nothing to stem the bleeding for big news. That's already the assumption. And Pandora.com will do something cool because they always do something cool every six months or so. Speaking of the difference between successful subscriptions to a beloved brand and rolling of the eyes towards a Rupert-Murdoch-based subscription idea...

    4. David H. Deans, October 26, 2009 at 4:25 p.m.

      Korry, as I look to the near future for big media companies, I would guess that the "death by 1000 cuts" will continue unabated.

      The growing abundance of content publishers has forever fragmented the marketplace into tiny segments of niche "communities of interest."

      The mass-market has lost its mass, it's broken into many pieces, and all the kings horses and all the kings men can't put it back together again.

      Frankly, the pieces don't want to be part of that nameless and faceless whole. This is truly progress for everyone -- of course, except big media.

    5. Stuart Long, October 29, 2009 at 1:31 a.m.

      My favorite part of your assessment of the future is how much it departed from the after effect on the series. On the series as soon as the incident occurred a second even more horrible thing happened; all of the characters on the series started talking about their feelings. The real nightmare is that Flash Forward is just another awful soap opera. I like your show a lot better.

    6. Bill Glass from Victoria James Executive Search, November 8, 2009 at 8:35 a.m.

      About 15-20 years ago, I remember attending a conference presentation by from someone from Microsoft *who ended by putting up his email address* saying "who ever understands that can get in touch with me. Twelve years ago I made a presentation to a group of senior marketing execs (admittedly European) and ended with my email address to evoke laughter -- which I know it would because no one anticipated ever using a computer. I'm now trying to imagine unexpected consequences of the increasingly mobile apps based web AND in particular the growing number of devices intermediate in size between a cell phone and a laptop -- from eReaders, to tablet PCs, to netbooks.

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