On the eve of Labor Day weekend, our thoughts start drifting ahead to the fall and the reawakening of the ad marketplace from its annual August slumber. Will ad spending be up? Will Q4 budgets anticipate an optimistic holiday season? Or, will marketers and merchants tighten their belts, their inventory and their ad spending? I don't know the answers to those questions yet. However, for today's column, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on what IS likely to happen this fall in the media and ad market. Here they are:
1. The fall TV shows will launch well. People are still watching tons of TV, the networks are paying more and more for their programming, and social media is proving to be a big driver in promoting shows. Expect the fall launches to be strong.
2. Election media spend won't disappoint. Between taking the caps off independent PAC spending and a highly polarized political environment, we are going to see an extraordinary election-related ad market this year. The result won't be pretty, except on TV company P&L statements.
3. No major portal or Web service implosions. Unlike past years, we won't see "death watches" on any major online services. Aol appears to be stabilizing. Yahoo is stable and under new leadership. And MySpace is already past its burnt-to-the-ground phase, and is now in its Phoenix phase.
4. Facebook and Zynga will find their footing with Wall Street. Both have taken their lumps with public investors, but both have massive networks of loyal users. This fall, they will establish a new normal with Wall Street.
5. Groupon will either demonstrate a transparent and self-evident business model to the Street, or it will continue to wallow. Groupon is not in the same place as Facebook and Zynga. It has had some real transparency issues. If it doesn't resolve them, it won't win back Wall Street. (I know. I was fooled, too.)
6. Folks will start taking notice of Amazon's relentless march to reshape not just commerce, but advertising and marketing, too. Amazon is the tortoise that will win the race. It may put off some folks because of its massive reinvestments, but has become a behemoth and will start having a bigger impact -- not just in e-commerce, but in advertising too.
7. Some magazine companies will surprise us with innovation. Conde has reddit. Tablets are growing faster than PCs and can support magazine-like content well. Plus, some of the players are moving into video, which will work even better.
8. Twitter will keep growing and will surprise with the upside on its ability to monetize. Twitter is the social Web service that seems to always be under-promising and over-delivering to advertisers. This will be a very good fall for it.
9. Payments will continue to be a battleground for consumer Web services companies. The nascent efforts to play in the payments world by Google and its Wallet will be directly engaged by Apple, Amazon, and EBay's PayPal. This battle will be bigger than the $100 billion in future annual digital ad spend they are also fighting over.
10. The post-election hangover - and still-struggling economy (no matter who is elected) - will leave a lot of questions and concerns about ad budgets for 2013. I don't expect a lot of bright-eyed optimism.
You've seen my list of what will happen this fall. What's on yours?