Friday, April 19, 2013

Musings on the Future of Media & Communications

I fondly remember how in 2008 I was urging companies and departments to start using social media as another "touch point" with their target audiences. I recall thinking that very soon, all companies will have Twitter and Facebook accounts (at least) and that, shortly thereafter, we would start seeing ads with companies asking viewers to Like their page or follow them on Twitter. And low and behold, just 6 months later, it started happening on a larger scale in the private sector, but took about two years to catch on in the government. 

My other prediction from 2009 was that online advertising spending was going to grow dramatically. At the time I had just begun working in government advertising, and it was just below 9% of total media buys. Right now it's closer to 25%, and still not in line with either what the private sector portions are, nor with the percentage of time spent by Canadians on digital...but that's a whole other blog post :).

So I may be able to argue that I am mildly capable of predicting the future in my industry by about 6 months to a year in advance of the "tidal wave" of change. But my predictions in this post are of a more lofty nature, as some of them will fully "hit" up to a 10-15 years from now, once the current major consumer generation is almost fully replaced by the younger, digital generation. As an example, my son's generation - the one that's never watched TV on TV or listened to anything but streamed online radio and read their morning news on a mobile device.

And so, here are my media predictions (or the predictions of many others, which I agree with):

  1. Death of Newspapers/Magazines - dying, dying, dead. (And sooner than most people are expecting)
  2. Death of Traditional Radio/TV - traditional formats won't die as quickly as the papers, but soon. It's already begun, with the pressure to "unbundle" advertising, and with advertising dollars moving to digital ads, and giving people what they want: a la carte tv instead of paying for hundreds of channels few want to watch. Furthermore, there are already successful shows on Netflix that have never been aired on TV, and this is only going to grow. With respect to radio, it's easier to produce high quality programming for digital streaming radio online and on mobile, so traditional radio will die off even faster than TV.
  3. Death of Mobile Apps - once HTML5 evolves and is adopted across the web, it will allow the web to responsively (see Responsive Web Design) look like a native mobile app on mobile devices, then why would people take the extra steps of downloading and installing apps?
  4. Death of the Desktop/Laptop/Mouse - as people move to lighter more and more powerful portable tablets with touch screen technology (and an portable keyboard if you so desire!), clunky desktops, laptops and mice will become a thing of the past.
  5. Facebook or Google Consumes the Web - not quite sure which will win the "war for online time spend" but it's between these two. Facebook is taking the "walled garden" approach, while google seems to like things a bit more open so that it can index them all in its search engine. But with Facebook's social graph, which will become the bigger, or most valuable search engine?
  6. Advertising goes even more social - yes, ads you see online are already becoming very targeted, but this will increase to the point where every single user can see their own individualized ad at the exact time when they have expressed interest in a product either by their social media activity or their online search activity. Right now this can be "escaped" by clearing one's cookies from one's browser, but this will become less and less possible to do easily. Unless you want to get into using proxies, but again, once the user becomes advanced enough to use this, the advertisers will find another way of making you "opt in" if you want to view the valuable content they offer, there is no escape!
That's all for today folks, but do let me know which of my predictions you agree with, and more importantly, how soon do you think these things will happen? A decade for some, a few years for others? If these things had a Facebook Timeline, what would it look like? :)