Friday, January 02, 2009

Predictions for 2009

These are personal predictions for the media year ahead:

There will never have been more: people online, minutes spent online, people using social networking sites, time spent gaming, people using the mobile internet, videos watched online, goods bought online, and so on. This is a given. But beyond this it will be a year of closures and mergers, discounts and coupons.

Closures - The internet will kill off a number of offline businesses, particularly those that target audience groups that are very high users of the internet. We have already seen the closure of magazines aimed at teens (e.g. Smash Hits), and the expected fall in ad spend in 2009 is likely to kill a few more off including other music magazines, men's monthlies, and women's weeklies. Shops that compete directly with the internet will also suffer, including music shops, book shops, and shops selling electronic goods. Much of the core audience has stopped buying these items on the high street already.

Mergers - There are too many players in some sectors. For example, there are more than 6 TV listings magazines in the UK, and the newspapers print listings too. Many of these are likely to merge. By the same token, there are many local review sites, telling you the best bars, restaurants etc, all competing for the same audience, and the same reviews. Expect to also see some of these sites merging.

Discounts - There will be sales everywhere. Mobile phone users will routinely be checking prices of goods in stores with online prices, and some stores will try to ban this, or somehow compete with it (see 'closures' above). Also, the book to read this year will be Free by Chris Anderson, which will explain how many businesses now give away core products and services for free (free newspapers, free handsets if you sign up to a contract etc). No one will want to pay full price for anything.

Coupons - The next generation of coupons is socially shared coupons - effectively the coupons that firms encourage people to send to friends. so far these have mainly been used for Christmas promotions, but firms will soon be rolling them out for other events too - Valentines Day, Cup Final day and so on. 2009 is a year without any big media events like World Cups or Olympic Games, so companies will try to create smaller, more local ones. Similarly these will be shared on Facebook and other social networks - 'join this group for 50% off at x restaurant' - and similar.

There will be a big rush to monetisation for social media sites with huge audiences but so far comparatively low revenues. Expect to see lots of new ad formats and ways of monetising these audiences. Twitter will attempt something, and its users will get very annoyed, having been spoilt by a wholly free service, with no ads, thus far.

There will be a lot of competiton in online video, with one or both of iPlayer and Hulu going outside their native territories. YouTube will expand it's showing of full length features.

& finally mobile internet use will continue to rise. The iPhone will have had a brilliant Christmas, but new Android and Symbian phones will also be very popular over 2009. We may also get to a position where mobile apps start to put websites out of business.

Very doom and gloom on the closures and mergers, I know. Let's hope I'm only partly right.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When I worked at the Future Laboratory I was always harking on about how coupons were going to make a comeback, but noone ever listened to me. I guess I'm having the last laugh now?!

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