Five predictions for 2012

The year’s fresh off the lot, sparkling and pretty. Time to whip out my soothsaying sledgehammer and put a few dents in it.

1. Businesses’ love affair with social media will swell. Marketers, big and small, who’ve sat on the fence thus far finally take the jump. The result, a huge influx of really, really bad corporate Facebook pages, awkward Tweets, and news-making mistakes. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

2. Consumers will switch their relationship status with social to “It’s Complicated.” We’re ripe for social-burnout. Frictionless sharing, privacy concerns, and a further glut of new channels will have people feeling stretched thinner than ever. As a result, they’ll contract their networks and focus on where they’re most comfortable (Read: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). A version of Dunbar’s number will emerge, this time for the number of social channels one person can reasonably use and maintain. I’m putting the over/under at three majors (like a Facebook or Twitter) and three or four minors (FourSquare, Instagram, etc.) depending on their niche utility.

3. TV will continue its resurgence. Despite the knocks, the fact remains: no medium delivers the volume of eyeballs – day in and day out – like TV does. Much of this will be thanks to the very thing experts predicted would help kill it: social media. More people are tuning in live, with the remote in one hand and an internet connected device in the other – especially for big events. Communal TV-watching will continue to trend upwards, and marketers will find more relevant, immersive ways to take advantage. Mullen’s Edward Boches has a smart take on it here.

4. A lot of people are going to make millions with the Facebook IPO…but it won’t be you. If it goes the way of similar players like Zynga and LinkedIn, what you pay on day one of the IPO is going to be significantly more than what it’s worth at the end of the year…and probably next year too. Start melting your gold down now, people.

5. Mobile advertising will finally get its act together. Industry analysts have been pulling a Harold Camping on this prediction for a while now. But the meteoric rise of tablets and smart phones will finally provide mobile advertising with a platform that lets it flex its muscle beyond tired text message and display ads, thanks in large part to more dynamic location-based, search, and social functionality.

  • I don’t know if I agree with #3. TV is seeing big changes.

    We intentionally watch all of our shows (even live shows) 15 or 30 minutes after they begin to fast forward through commercials. 2012 is also a big year for Netflix, with their first original series “Lilyhammer” getting a lot of hype, setting them up for rolling out a number of exclusive shows that would pull a bigger slice of pie into convenience. My wife watches many of her shows online to better multitask while playing Facebook games (a laptop on the sofa requires too much head versus eye movement), despite having copies of the same shows getting stale on the DVR.

    I find 2012 to finally be the year I justify dumping our “triple play” and submitting to the fact our fancy TVs are better served as gateways to our PS3 and AppleTV media centers than that blinky thing with a guide menu that leaves an abundance to be desired in terms of UX. Cable being useless makes 2/3 in our utility package an underutilized expense—on the bleachers with our digital land line that doesn’t work when the power is out.

    • There’s no mistaking the encroachment of digital and its increasing ability to provide TV content, but the fact remains, live events still plays best on TV. If Google TV or Apple TV could figure out a way to provide that, I’ll drop my cable service too.

      Believe me, MSOs won’t let that happen without getting paid one way or another – most likely through data caps on their Internet.

      “Social watching” may be the only thing holding off DVR and On Demand.

  • Cool blog! Ran across your firm while looking for agencies in Columbia. Added to the google reader you all have been.

    Re: #5, I’ve long wondered why mobile advertising seems generally inept. You think there’s any possibility that they’ll get any less obtrusive as marketers learn more about consumers and cater their messages accordingly?

    This thought’s been spurred by newspaper sites (both mobile and otherwise)…where ads often find their place right in the middle of an article. I wonder if we’ve reached a point where people realize ads pay the bills and are necessary…and would thus be willing to view them in another setting? Myriad folk sign up for store email blasts willingly, knowing they’ll be bombarded by ads on a daily basis. Maybe something similar could happen with more people-centric mobile/web ads?

  • Joe, experts have been scratching their heads over an underachieving mobile ad industry for years. The truth is, mobile was surprisingly effective, initially at least. Text message click rates were ridiculous – in some case 20% or more compared to, say, direct mail where a 3% response rate has you doing backflips.

    What we have happening is a couple things. A) People are naturally starting to ignore the mobile ads. I couldn’t tell you one ad I’ve seen on Words with Friends – and I have to actively click to close them. B) The mobile experience is aesthetically limited. Advertisers struggle to come up with ways to engage on a platform that’s still surprisingly clunky and uncomfortable to use.

    What you’re going to find is more marketers taking advantage of the micro-targeting that a mobile device – coupled with social and geolocation functionality – can provide. People respond to ads that are relevant. There’s an old adage from some long-dead ad guy (Gossage, I think it was) who said something like: People don’t read ads. They read what interests them. Sometimes that’s advertising. Mobile will live and die by its ability to be interesting and relevant.

  • No problem! I look forward to reading more about the industry. My background is poli sci/music but I’ve always been fascinated by marketing.

    And I can definitely relate on the WWF ads. I can’t remember any of them, but I will take the time to screenshot the seldom-occuring game where I’m beating my baby brother (king of the 100+ words) in a heartbeat. So you’re definitely right…relevancy is the key to interest.

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ADG Creative is a strategic communications firm specializing in branding, interactive, learning and gaming, and software development. We combine process, experience and extraordinary creative talent to tell our customers' stories in unique, memorable and usually unexpected ways, leveraging both conventional and new media platforms.