More Media Developments for 2016

This is the second installment of my segment on the big media developments for 2016. In my last post, I discussed the rise of relevant video, the accelerated growth of The Big Blue and The Big Yellow, and whether the FTC would finally nab paid influencers without disclaimers. But wait, there’s more! Without any further ado, here are four more big media developments for 2016:

THE KIDS WILL PAY. Common wisdom over the past few years has been that the tail end of the Millennials and Gen Z – also known as The Smartphone Generation – won’t pay for anything. And it’s our own damn fault, as we’ve given them most everything great for free, either on YouTube or via sharing our (a.k.a. their parents) Netflix and HBO accounts. But that will change in 2016, as new services that provide differentiated value start to drive real revenue. Snapchat rewinds, YouNow virtual goods, Ottermedia’s narrowcasted content, YouTube Red and the imminent Vessel reboot will all prove by year’s end that if you craft, curate, bundle and present the right package, money will flow. That means real opportunity for those building micropayment, subscription and billing services, along with the media companies that get it right.

AD BLOCKING GOES MAINSTREAM. Remember the good old days of streaming video, when you’d see the same damn “Crest Strips” ad running in front of every single video on the internet? Well it’s worse now – the variety of ads has increased, but the experience sucks bad. And on the static web it’s even worse. Today web ads slow down browsing, interfere with the user experience and make the mobile web nearly useless. The only surprise about the widespread adoption of ad-blocking technology is “Why did it take so long?”. As more users embrace ad blocking, ad dollars will flow away from these units to more insidious variants, including branded entertainment, sponsorships and product placement.

AS NEW OTT BUNDLES LAUNCH, AT LEAST ONE WILL SHUT DOWN. Watchable, Go90, SlingTV, Sony Vue, PlutoTV, KlowdTV, Boingo and a variety of other skinny or mid-weight bundles launched in 2015. More are on the way in 2016 from companies including possibly AT&T, Viki, Vivendi, Spotify, CenturyLink, Charter and Time Warner. But I expect at least one of the first group to shut down in 2016 as consumer adoption isn’t as strong as previously expected. But just because there will be hiccups, the trend towards IP delivered bundles and single-source paid services will only continue. And huge returns will accrue to those that get it right.

BRANDS ARE THE NEW MEDIA COMPANIES. And finally, that will only increase the trend towards brands becoming media companies. Over the last year or so, we’ve seen Marriott, Purina, Wal*Mart and many other brands set up their own in-house content studios, as they began building programming, audiences and communities of their own. Expect more brands to realize that it’s crazy to pay big bucks to rent proxy audiences when they can build their own for less. This will lead to a flood of producers, journalists, editors and writers moving into in-house jobs in corporate America. Alas, a good many of them won’t last long, as many of these companies will be unable to make the conceptual transition from megaphone marketing to building communities based on a shared value exchange. But the ones that get it right will be poised for even greater success – with substantially reduced external marketing budgets – going forward.

Note I didn’t say anything about virtual reality or augmented reality – clearly another key area in media developments in 2016. I’ll have more about that in my next piece, as it’s so complex as to deserve its own musings.