Stop Predicting the Future — You Can’t
A former boss asked me last week what I thought the next big thing in online advertising was going to be. I stopped to think for a few seconds, and then told him that it will be offers delivered to mobile devices, triggered by an ad network, serving creative based on the GPS location of the user’s cell phone or PDA.
Although eMarketer recently predicted that the total market for mobile text (SMS) ads will reach $1.5 billion this year, I’m not talking about an offer being delivered as 150 or so characters of a text message. Instead, the promise of something like the iPhone’s Safari Web browser on more mobile devices should have marketers really excited.
Then I started to think about how many Internet prophets I’ve run into over the past few months, all trying to either make a living or get on the speaker circuit predicting the future of the Internet. It’s really starting to bug me.
I’ll lump these people into the same heap as consultants and analysts. The longer they spend on the outside, the further they are from telling you anything worthwhile. I’m pretty sure that I could drop everything today and pimp myself out to small- to mid-size publishers and give them input on how to make their e-media efforts stronger. In less than a year, I would be out of things to tell them and out of people to tell it to. You need to live and breathe this stuff every day, and even then you sometimes feel you know very little.
Now back to the futurists. Yes, the next logical progression from Web 2.0 is Web 3.0, my 8-year-old daughter could tell me that one. Sure, traditional print advertising is taking a huge hit from online advertising, while paid search is highly measurable and social media sites like Facebook and MySpace may someday be the only way we communicate. Enough already!
Is it me, or are there more and more people analyzing, predicting and consulting rather than doing? All I know is that over the past decade, what I do for a living has changed a lot. If any of you folks can tell me what the next 10 (or even five) years will look like, I’m hoping you have something creative to predict. Otherwise, you may have better luck convincing me my beloved Philadelphia Eagles will win the Super Bowl this season.