The Six Most Cynical Online Advertising Predictions

I don’t think the people who thought up modern advertising believed we would be where we are today. Who could blame them? Several decades ago, advertising was more of a craft than a profession. Nothing wrong with that. People didn’t know much about the cumulative impact of their work back then.

Online is partly a craft, but it’s also an industry, and it’s looking more and more like one every day. We’re still beholden to doing our jobs with some degree of eloquence and uniqueness. If advertising is the poetry (some call it an art, others a blight) of modern culture, what will the online marketing world mean to the next generation of marketers?

I don’t care.

It’s too hard (and a tad pretentious) to think what we do will matter in 5, 10, or 20 years. Technology is moving so fast, the marketing professionals of the future will probably laugh at the limitations we had to deal with just to get an advert, Web site, or marketing message out to the Internet, or anywhere for that matter. Needless to say, I don’t worry about the future.

Regardless, it leaves us in an awkward position when it comes to handing out the credit for this mess. Can anyone claim to be the progenitor of online advertising? Many have claimed to be the creator of the first online ad, but does anyone really care? I don’t.

For all we think of ourselves, consider this: a great cosmic wave will engulf our planet in a series of magnetic storms. I’m betting on or about March 22, 2028, at 4:33 in the afternoon when I’ll probably be asleep, dreaming about flaky French pastry. All our work will be irretrievably gone. Forever. All we’ll have to show for our toil is a vast sea of server racks standing like a Zen army of nothingness.

That’s why I don’t worry about the future of online marketing, online video, video blogs, rich ads, podcasts and all the other buzzy jargon. We don’t need to worry about the future because it moves so fast that before you know it, it’s right in front of you.

So in the constant struggle to betray what I think, I came up with some predictions for the New Year:

  • Will 2007 produce more integrated marketing than ever before? Possibly.

  • Will integration matter? That’s debatable.
  • Will we see more lonleygirl15 programs on YouTube? Yes, unfortunately.
  • Will it bring more quality content online? I truly hope so.
  • New buzzwords? Sorry, but yes.
  • And what about reality show styled pitch videos? Please no — never again!

The lesson we’ve learned is we should no longer go for seconds at the Internet punch bowl. Too many have done so and made a great spectacle of themselves. I won’t mention any names here. You know who you are.

This isn’t to say taking chances is an outdated concept. Quite the opposite is true. Risk, tempered with a level of knowledge and maturity, and an eye for quality are where online marketing professionals should keep their focus. Let’s let the young exuberants bring the latest flash in the pan and teach us how unpredictable human behavior is.

The change that’s ahead isn’t a polar shift. Rather, it’s a new chapter in the separation of professional content from non-professional content. But it’s more than that. Making a video will be what anyone can do; making an interactive experience on a video platform will be the domain of specialists. And that’s a good thing.

Now we can start thinking about how to do this whole interactive thing right rather than faking our way into it by using credentials and techniques from another time and industry. 2007 is the first step; let’s make it a good one. Happy New Year.

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