This time last year I made a number of predictions for 2010 so its time time to review those and make some new ones for 2011.
My first prediction last year was;
“Print advertising revenues will continue to decline but at a slower rate than last year. Some management teams will call this as signs of the green shoots of recovery. It won’t be. The downturn in print advertising will turn out to be L shaped.”
Well it seems the jury is out about this. If you look at the stories about print revenues there is a mixed bag of news. Some say that is recovery, some not. 2009 was so awful it is perhaps with hindsight not surprising that some media companies saw an improvement. Across the board though, with the recession behind them, publishers are reporting smaller declines in print revenue. But they haven’t seen the kind of rebound that would make up for steep declines in 2009. Watching short term trends is a mugs game, so we have to keep a long view – and in that I haven’t changed my broadly pessimistic mind.
My second prediction was
“The current craze for putting content behind a pay wall will deliver some returns but they will turn out ot be much smaller than the continuing decline in print advertising.”
This has been the year of the paywall experiment. The most extreme version has been The Times total lockdown. The results aren’t yet clear, but most of the analysis seems to conclude that the scale of uptake is not yet big enough to make a business. There is no shortage of experimentation as we have curated here and judging by the response we have had to our Paywalls Strategies Conference, no shortage of interest. For 2010 the prediction was right, but the paywall game is not over. There is a growing realisation that there are many models to try (an analysis of all them is in our Paywall Strategy Report – £895.00 or free when you register for the conference) and these models will mature in time.
My third prediction for 2010 was;
” More magazines are going to close. They don’t need to, but unless publishers take an entirely new approach to the problem there will be little chance of survival for even some of the biggest magazine brands.”
Sadly I was on the money here. There have been hundreds of closures both here and in the US, although there is some evidence that the rate of closure is slowing. What might otherwise have been closed has been sold with a most notably a plethora of sales from IPC Magazines during the year.
Prediction number 4 was
“The rush to exploitation of network marketing will continue and there will be an explosion in marketing services companies offering advice to b 2 b marketeers.”
Social media marketing has been the buzz of 2010. Twitter has come of age as a powerful tool for media owners. We are only on the low slopes of this revolution however. As media companies start to come to terms with how the tools are used we can expect a growing level of sophistication in social media strategies. There are two dangers for media companies however. The first is that the clients, the advertisers, have the same access to social mediaand are learning too, often without the intermediary help of media owners, and second, the pace of change means that it is quite possible that by the time the media industry has worked out how to use the current band of social media tools, the users will have moved on to the next generation.
Prediction number 5 was alomost entirely wrong. I said that
“Fear, panic and shareholder pressure will lead to wholesale changes in the senior management teams of some business media companies.” For the most part the leaders of national newspapers, regional newspapers and magazine businesses have stayed the same but there have been big changes in the middle management of most. The interviews we have conducted with leaders suggest that most leaders have now got a good analysis of the problem. The 2011 test will be how they lead their organisations to a growth solution.
My final prediction of last year?
“A new disruptive business media company with no legacy will make a noticeable impact on the market.”
Well, I confess that was a bit naughty. This time last year we were in the early planning stages for the launch of Briefing Media Ltd. It took us a little longer to get ready for launch than we thought, eventually releasing our first product on September 28th. We hope to have our second vertical service released by the end of the first quarter of 2011. It is early days yet, but what is already clear is that our solution is getting great traction with readers and commercial partners. Rory wrote a good summary of our first ten weeks. We have exciting plans for 2011 and we look forward to working with you all.
Later in the week I shall be posting my predictions for 2011. In the meantime, thanks to all our expert contributors, to all of you who retweeted The Media Briefing, to the thousands who have registered for newsletters or to access our personalisation tools, to the fine folk at Abacus e Media, Atypon, Forrester and others who are working with us on our first conference, the clever folk at Idio whose technical brilliance has constantly impressed us – thank you all and a Happy New Year.