2014 Predictions? Bah, Humbug!

I learned a new word earlier this year, courtesy of fellow Online Spinner Max Kalehoff. To be clear, Max did not invent the word “listicle,” but brought it to my attention through his post on the topic. If you want a definition of “listicle,” I refer you to Wikipedia, or to Max’s article.

As far as I’m concerned, a listicle is usually nothing more than a PowerPoint bullet point slide masquerading as journalism or blog post, and it is everywhere in our online content world.

At no time is the practice more prevalent then at year’s end, with “The Best/Worst [fill in your preferred topic] of 2013” as well as “5/10/1,000 [fill in your preferred topic] Predictions For 2014.”

The year-in-review listicles can be entertaining, as they provide an easy way to remember the Twittersphere explosions we had already forgotten about, or the Tumblr gifs we laughed about six months ago.



Those predictive lists are something different, of course, because they attempt that really difficult task of tealeaf-reading and Oujia-board-interpreting for your benefit.

In the interest of science, truth and transparency, I went back in time and checked some of the predictions for 2013 as listicled by our revered Online Spin parent MediaPost at the end of last year (I checked November - December 2012). There were listicles with predictions covering the following categories: entertainment marketing, real-time bidding and online video, and one listicle presenting predictions from a handful of assorted industry professionals.

The overall follow-up score was not great, showing just how tough predicting is (or how naively optimistic we tend to be around the holidays). Here is a smattering of predictions that did not happen:

  • Marketers did not stop using the words “social media.”
  • There is no unified measurement protocol across touchpoints, nor is there a standardized multichannel planning approach or tool.
  • Advertisers did embrace online video, but did not do so at the expense of TV (quite the opposite, actually).
  • In 2013, we did not see a decrease in bad apples/bad practices in programmatic and real-time; again, quite the opposite happened, as Bob Garfield and Joe Mandese remind us on almost a weekly basis.
  • We called 2013 the year of mobile – that was an easy one, and I venture it is true for 2014 as well.
  • MySpace did not come back with a bang, despite its star-studded backing (in all fairness, this was a prediction listed under the “Out on a limb” section).

Predicting is not an easy thing to do. I personally only know of one institution whose claim to fortune-telling I find compelling, and that is The Institute for the Future. It has been in the predictions business for 45 years -- and as Distinguished IFTF fellow Bob Johansen likes to say, they are the only futurists who have been around long enough to see if their predictions have come true. Most did.

So at the end of 2013, I would like to offer “listicle” as word of the year in the digital journalism and blogging category, just like “selfie” is the word of the year for the Oxford Dictionary, and “twerking” is the word of the year for the masses.

And with that I would like to share with you my 2014 prediction listicle (drum roll please!):

  • The listicle trend will continue to grow.

That’s it: my first-ever listicle and prediction all in one. What remains is for me to wish you a fantastic 2014.

2 comments about "2014 Predictions? Bah, Humbug!".
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  1. Nick D from ___, December 30, 2013 at 12:48 p.m.

    "There is no unified measurement protocol across touchpoints, nor is there a standardized multichannel planning approach or tool."

    Doh... But seriously, how long have you been in the marketing industry, that you thought this was a realistic prediction?!

    In 2014, Google may trial its own approach to cross-media measurement, but due to its inherent bias, it will not be adopted by the wider industry.

    And the online industry will crawl towards some measure of reach and frequency, still without actually implementing it across the majority of online planning.

    Oh, and this year will be the year of mobile - fingers crossed, 12th time's the charm...

  2. Joseph Jaffe from HMS Beagle, LLC, December 30, 2013 at 9:11 p.m.

    So what *do* you predict??? I'm not letting you get away with a prediction about predictions!!!!

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