The ever-readable and whip-smart Cory Treffiletti jumpstarted the prediction season this week with "3 Things You'll Be Talking About In 2018" in Media Insider. He says we'll be chatting about AI and voice-driven tech -- but not blockchain as an ad product.
Mercifully, he skipped the perennial "year of mobile," "embracing the cloud," "duopoly" and "sharing economy." But while I have the greatest of respect for Cory, I disagree with 2/3 of his prognostications.
For example, the next person who uses AI in a sentence (or product description) will get a punch in the nose from me. We are so far away from AI in every part of our lives that it isn't funny anymore. What is merely machine learning is routinely touted as AI, because after all, AI is cool.
I would posit that even Watson (with its number-crunching, pattern-matching, searching, etc.) is not generating "true thought.” Others argue that it functions in a similar way to the human brain -- but until Watson comes to my house and tells me how Clemson or Wisconsin will do in the playoffs, I am not buying it.
I think writing off blockchain at this early stage is also a mistake. There are a number of tests underway to see whether the tech can be used to reinvent contracts, reconcile buy/sell orders, confirm ad placements and block ads from appearing where marketers don't want them. Too often blockchain is confused with bitcoin, which is on a tulip mania surge at the moment. But what blockchain can offer is too important to not talk about it.
It's hard to argue that voice-driven data won't continue to be a big thing next year. But if Alexa keeps telling me she doesn't have the answer to my questions, she is headed the way of the VCR. I confess that Google voice search on my phone is a work of art.
Why stop at three? Here are more things I predict you will talk about next year:
How will the rest of the internet get along when Facebook and Google reach 90% of all new digital ad spending?
What will happen if that idiot in Washington is successful in killing net neutrality?
When you add up the fees for all the streaming services you are paying for and find they approach the cost of cable, will you revert back in 2018?
Can ESPN survive on lower monthly carriage fees and still pay off all it has committed to grab up broadcast rights?
Will there be any male TV news personalities found NOT to have tried to leverage their power for sexual encounters? Who will be the first major woman outed for similar behavior?
Who will be the first to declare they are done, done, done with programmatic advertising, since it results in too much fraud and questionable adjacencies?
When will the networks wake up and realize they are driving their audiences to record programming so they can skip those exhausting ad loads? Surely the nets know already that when ads come on, audiences pick up their cell phones.
OK, it has been 23 years since the first digital ad ran. Can we now admit that the "right person, right place, right time" meme was -- and is -- a crock?
Can marketers really cope with all the data collected about their customers and prospects? I think not. Will the Feds step in to stop the collection of a lot of it, especially on mobile? Probably.
Which unicorns will drop dead in 2018?Does anyone miss the catchphrase "You ask a lot of questions for a kid from Brooklyn"?