There are no shortages of “predictions” articles, here I look at a dozen things that won’t happen in the world of online video in 2012, even though they should.
1) We Will Have Standards and Definitions (No, we won’t)
By the end of 2011, the online video industry didn’t yet have a common definition and standard for a video view. It also wasn’t sure if the click-through-rate or completion rate would become the ultimate yardstick for success. A lot of experts are coming out and saying that 2012 will mark the year where we define these standards and agree on one. Personally, I think that is wishful thinking, 2012 is the year where we admit that we have this problem, but it won’t matter, as online video advertising continues to grow despite a sea of confusion, smoke and mirrors.
2) Year of Mobile (Where have I heard that before?)
Every year is intended to be the “year of mobile”, and every year ends with a prediction that “next year, mobile will take off”.
Here’s the thing, mobile has been growing rapidly for years, but it’s been all about text and apps. While the video ecosystem is emerging and growing rapidly, the actual revenue will remain marginal.
3) Death of Television (Really?)
If there’s one thing we keep expecting each year more than the “rise of mobile” it’s the “death of television”, and frankly, neither one ever happens – even though in all honesty, the trend line does favor both of those things. But the worst kept secret is that while video is an increasingly important and popular social activity, economically it’s pretty tiny: online video ads will account for about $2 billion in the US and over $3 billion worldwide. Television ads will remain a $70+ billion market.
Meanwhile, television keeps becoming more meaningful to the average American (not the people who live on Twitter and die on Facebook).
4) Cord Cutting is Real (Oh, please)
Oh, my effin G-D (how’s that for self-censorship?) if I hear any more about cord-cutters or cord-nevers or any other fictitious demographic, I am going to die. Yes, fewer people will “need” cable and without a doubt, one day, the cable industry as.we.know.it will have to change, but people, last time I checked, you still need cable to watch news, sports, most decent programming. How about we don’t mention the terms “cord cutting” until a cable company issues a material earnings hit as a direct result of the “cord cutting” phenomenon, and when they do, you can all “tweet me” to say “I told you so”, but until then… drop it…
5) Apple TV or Google TV will Rule the World (What the hell is OTT?)
Everyone keeps talking about Google TV or Apple TV, and without a doubt, they will make a big splash, but I don’t think either one will make a big wave in 2012, or anytime soon. I’m a “supposed online-video expert” (notice the quotation marks) and any time I consider buying a set-top, over-the-top connected device, I don’t quite know if I’m risking jail time for piracy or electrocution for short-circuiting my television… and that means that 99% of the population out there isn’t considering OTT devices even though we all assume they are. Apple and Google also know this, which is why there is so much talk of them getting their software into real TVs.
6) Where’s the ROI? (Who cares)
It’s normal to keep asking “where’s the ROI?” But if the idea is that online video will steal ad dollars from television, then it’s worth noting that TV is arguably the least measurable – but most visible – ad platform.
As such, while one would think that ROI is going to become more important to secure ad dollars, I actually think it will become more irrelevant because, to quote Eric Schmidt, advertising is the “last bastion of unaccountable spending in corporate America.”
7) Advertising will be less robotic (sadly, it won’t)
Yes, the “quants” destroyed Wall Street by bundling crappy mortgages and passing them off as AAA-rated assets, which annihilated Main Street.
But for some reason, we think it shall be different on Madison Avenue: ad exchanges and networks are eating up market share by extolling the “virtues” of quantitative analysis, while targeting by audience reminds me of the mortgage debacle, but nonetheless, even though anyone with a clue realizes this toxic blend will end up killing advertising, don’t expect a letdown as underpaid-yet-overworked media planners are asked to spend more money online.
8) Publishers Will Get a Clue (They Won’t)
You’d think that after display ad networks decimated publishers in the early 2000s, media companies would have learned their lesson and prevented a repeat with video ad networks, but nope: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on… stupid publishers who actually allow history to repeat itself by handing the video budgets on a silver platter to ad networks and exchanges. As much as you hear publishers saying they will “take back their audiences”, they won’t.
9) Tablets will… (blah-blah-blah)
Yes, tablets like the iPad are neat, but to give credit to Jann Wenner, they won’t really make a difference to traditional media companies. Despite the lessons of the print and music industries, expect Hollywood to make the same mistake and i) over-estimate the potential opportunity of tablets and ii) under-estimate the continued potential threat of the Web.
10) Branded Content (Is Usually Lame)
We’re all holding our breath and expecting branded content to move from concept to reality… but let’s face it, the reality is that marketers will continue to favor low hanging fruit like pre-rolls over tougher executions like branded content.
11) Consolidation (Probably won’t happen, again)
Most of the VC-backed video companies date back to 2003-2008. Investor fatigue has already set in, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will see the catalyst event we’ve been waiting for to unclench a wave of divestment and consolidation.
12) VCs will wake up
Every imaginable trend suggests that VCs will start to invest more in content companies at the expense of aggregation, distribution, tech, and advertising, but after predicting this for 6 years, I think you can rule this one out, too.
They say that even a broken clock is right twice a day, so some of these may happen in 2012, but most probably won’t.
Image credit: Cybrain/Shutterstock.