Collective Thoughts on 2007

Coming up with a column this time of year is hard. Real hard. Of course, this is the time of year that lots of people do their “Year in Review” columns or “Predictions for 2007.” I’ve even done them before myself. And as I was trying to come up with ideas for this column, I kept coming back to one of those two topics. But if I were going to go with one of these old reliables, I wanted to be able to put a new spin on it.

As it turns out, once a month at my shop we have a little birthday celebration for anyone whose birthday falls in that month. This month, I’m one of those people. So as I wrote this, people were starting to circulate around my office. It occurred to me that smart people surround themselves with other smart people. Here I was surrounded by my own little dessert-munching brain trust, so why not tap them for their thoughts on 2007?

So as we ate goodies, drank eggnog, and generally prepared for the holiday, I began polling people on what they thought we’d be talking about and working on in the next three months, six months, and beyond. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

Paul Herring, Director of Strategy: People aren’t currently consuming a lot of video programming on their phones; one, because it’s new, but also because it’s expensive for the user. In the coming year, you’ll see advertisers exploring ways to provide that content, either for free or at discounted rates to end users. In exchange for the video programming, users will agree to watch ads. This approach removes the cost barrier and will likely drive that type of media consumption.

Brian Linder, Art Director: With the proliferation of handheld devices, there’s going to be a growth of advertising trying to have a presence on that platform. With all the other things that have grown online — video and user-generated content especially, you’re going to see those phenomena become portable. Creating video content designed to be seen on mobile devices has happened, but it will be further embraced in the coming year. As will the ability for users to contribute content through those portable devices.

John Keehler, Strategist: The thing I keep thinking about is advertisers (and by that I mean brands) as content producers. For example, advertisers having their own online television-like shows. It has to do with brands being experts on subjects of interest. That expertise makes them authorities. And authorities can create content. It can be as simple as Travelocity creating a travel show. The content can be primarily based on expertise or on entertainment. Ultimately, this is for sake of getting people to buy their product or service, but in the short term it’s a way to build a unique brand position in the minds of consumers.

Cheryl Huckabay, Media Director: We’re going to continue to see more of the content we’ve traditionally experienced offline move toward online and mobile devices, like we saw with prime-time television in 2006. For example, the ABC broadband channel where you can watch prime-time programming online anytime you want, for free.

We’ll continue to see new platforms such as MySpace and YouTube, that empower the consumer. And new forms of advertising within those platforms will emerge. My thought is these new approaches will break out of the advertising mold and provide new and interesting levels of integration with the content.

Jamie Squires, Art Director: Bigger, better, richer experiences online. As people become more used to Web sites and navigation and how things work, creativity will play a bigger role in delivering something experiential. I don’t think people will shy away from what a site has to offer visibly. In fact, I think for certain brands, customers are going to expect more than just information. They’re going to expect to experience the brand in a unique way.

There you have it, a collection of thoughts on 2007. It seems that we’re looking at a year of video, mobile, and user-generated content, which many predicted would dominate 2006. However, what I get from these comments is that this coming year will see huge expansion in all of these areas. Will there be other phenomena like MySpace and YouTube? Who knows? But no matter what, 2007 will be an exciting year for all of us in this industry. If you have thoughts on what lies ahead for us, I’d love to hear from you.

Oh, and last, but certainly not least — Happy Holidays!

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