Originally posted on Forbes

Rolling Stone magazine, founded in 1967, in the depth of the free love and rock music revolution sweeping America, launched its first Twitch channel today, March 1. Rolling Stone announced that the new channel will have original live content hosted by Tia Hill and Jon Weigell, a diverse, Gen Z duo, who are video content creators and social media influencers. Twitch has tens of thousands of partner channels covering far more than gaming, for which it is well known. Music is a growing area on Twitch which is complimentary with the young audience often watching gaming content on the platform.

“The Rolling Stone on Twitch” channel will be streamed five days a week. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the channel will present a two-hour live variety show. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Rolling Stone will produce live music performances. The first live performances will be from Marcus King and Ted Park. The Rolling Stone shows on Twitch will have “an array of guests: both emerging and established musicians, comedians, actors, political figures, and journalists,” Rolling Stone said in their announcement.

Twitch, founded 10 years ago, has become the dominant live streaming platform on the Internet in the U.S. As of February 2020, it had 3 million broadcasters monthly and 15 million daily active users, with 1.4 million average concurrent users

The Rolling Stone channel will allow fans to interact directly with their favorite artists

and performers. Executive Producer Christopher Cruz from Rolling Stone said the goal for the channel is to introduce audiences to Rolling Stone content in an entirely new way. “This channel is a labor of love for the Rolling Stone staff, and is an opportunity not just to bring our brand of storytelling to new audiences, but make them a part of the story.”

Ari Evans, CEO of Maestro.io, and a veteran entrepreneur in the live streaming industry, commented on this expansion by Rolling Stone into live streaming, “This is another example of how the music industry is expanding into the still largely untapped medium of live streaming. Furthermore, live streaming of virtual concerts and digital experiences are proving to be big revenue producers. For example Billie Eilish’s recent streaming concert, powered by Maestro, was one of the biggest monetized events of 2020. Rolling Stone’s new channel taps into new audiences, alternative monetization strategies, and a live interactive voice for the brand in the Twitch world. Hopefully it will further encourage other brands and artists to follow suit.”

Just five years after Rolling Stone magazine was founded, a hit song was released by Dr. Hook in 1972, called “The Cover of Rolling Stone.” Ever since then major music, cultural and political figures have sought to be on the cover of Rolling Stone. Now maybe we will see Twitch on the cover of the Rolling Stone.


Originally posted on Forbes

This Sunday, for the 55th time, the Super Bowl will be played among the champions of the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference, respectively, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The winner of NFL’s finale to the football season (a football season unlike any other due to limited crowds and extensive Covid-19 testing and precautions) will not only be one of the two competing teams – but also CBS VIAC -1.3% will be a big winner with the huge revenue gathered from over 40 ads run during the game and previewed online.

In past years Super Bowl advertising has been dominated by consumer goods, beverages, snacks, cars, and some services (such as Turbo Tax). This year some of the

best known regular advertisers in the Super Bowl, such as Budweiser, Coke, and Pepsi are not advertising in the Super Bowl. Many of these traditional Super Bowl advertisers are “reallocating that money to increase public awareness about Covid-19 and the vaccination process” wrote Blake Morgan of Forbes.com recently.

So who is filling in those holes in the advertising schedule for the Super Bowl? As another reflection of the growth of the digital industry, this year there are 11 ads running in the Super Bowl from Internet/digital companies like Uber Eats, Amazon, Squarespace, Vroom, Mercari, Fiverr, Larna, Indeed, Dexcom DXCM -1.9%, Dr. Squatch

and Robinhood (newly famous from the Game Stop stock trading controversy). Last year there were only seven digital ads from such companies.

Looking back at Super Bowls past, and advertising from the dot.com industry, we first saw a Super Bowl ad from a dot.com in 1999 with a widely complimented ad from Monster.com – the online job site. According to Ad Age, “Before the Super Bowl, Monster.com’s traffic was running at about 1.5 unique visitors per month. For the remainder of 1999, it averaged 2.5 million visitors per month.” Ad Age named the Monster ad as the the ad of the year. Monster continued for a number of years to

advertise in the Super Bowl after their first ad in 1999. Peter Blacklow, CMO at Monster.com in the early 2000’s, said, “the key to successful Super Bowl advertising is repetition – year after year.” I saw that in the research I conducted years ago for Monster.com when consumers said they were waiting for the new Monster ad at each Super Bowl. Blacklow, now a General Partner at Boston Seed Capital (an early DraftKings investor) said, “Every year, the Monday after Super Bowl, we saw our resume submission up by 50% or more. Super Bowls should not be treated as one-off commercials, but rather as a concerted long-term branding play.”

At the height of the first Internet boom, in the year 2000, the Super Bowl was played on January 30 and gained the moniker of the “Dot.com Super Bowl.” During that Super Bowl, 17 Internet-related companies advertised during the game. Just one month later the tech-heavy Nasdaq NDAQ -0.2%hit an all time high and soon after plunged by 75% in less than two years. The first Internet bubble was over and in 2001 only two dot.coms advertised in the Super Bowl.

The economy, attacked by the Pandemic, has nonetheless been a boom year for all of the stock market, and certainly for the major Nasdaq players, like the commonly monikered group of companies – FANG – Facebook Amazon AMZN +0.8%Netflix NFLX -1.5% and Googl GOOG -0.3%e. This year’s Super Bowl, with a big increase in advertising from Internet-related companies, is just another reflection of the robust economic power of the Internet.

Originally posted on Forbes

This past election saw record numbers of voters. There were numerous comparisons of Americans’ voting behaviors after the election. Blue vs. Red. Urban vs. Rural. And Young vs. Older voters. In fact, younger voters (under 30) voted across most States by a margin of 20% or more on behalf of President Joe Biden than for former President Donald Trump.

A survey released after the election by the highly-regarded Pew Research Center shows that over two-thirds of 18-29 year old voters often get their news from devices such as phones, computers and tablets. In strong contrast, less than a majority of the 65 year old and older voters report they use digital sources to get news often. The 55 to 65 year old group is also heavily oriented to traditional news sources, while the 30 to 49 year old and older voters acted more like their younger fellow citizens, focusing more on digital sources for getting their news, than from traditional media like televisions, radio and print.

To further show the dramatic behavior differences in sources of news among voters in America, note that 16% of the youngest age group often used TV to get news while 68% of the oldest group used TV often to get their news.

It is also striking that only 3% of voters under 30 years old used print newspapers to get their news often, but 25% of the older voters (65 and above) said TV was a frequent source of news for them.

Across all age groups more than half of U.S. voters said they prefer digital devices for getting their news. Television only had 35% of all voters saying they preferred to get their news from TV. Not surprisingly, radio and newspapers only had 7% and 5% preference choice, respectively.

As you would expect social media has become a major source of newsfor all voters. As far back as 2004, in a Carnegie Corporation studyI helped lead, we had already started to highlight that younger people were much more likely to use the Internet to get their news. We predicted this would grow and it has in a very big way, particularly with the growth of smartphones.

So what does this mean for people covering the news and those consuming the news:


  1. Reporters and news outlets need to write for mobile devices – not just for a long printed newspaper article. Mobile news calls for a liberal use of headlines and subheadlines, photos, and short, scannable sentences and paragraphs.
  2. Government and political officials need to recognize that their messaging is often being consumed on mobile devices and they need to release the news or their opinions in formats and platforms that will appeal to young voters using mobile devices.
  3. The average citizen should be aware that longer, more in-depth analyses may exist in traditional sources on important issues and newsworthy figures.
  4. Likewise, reporters, editors, newsmakers, and the average person must recognize that social media has become a major outlet for news, which often means the news is being “reported” by a wide variety of types of folks, many of whom may be relying on other news or opinion that are “second-hand”.


Originally posted on Forbes

The movie industry has changed considerably since the moving-picture cinema was created in the 1880’s, as the work of a few inventors (including Thomas Edison) and technologies merged together to create something very similar to today’s theatrical movie business.

Few industries have been more devastated by the Covid-19 pandemic than the movie business. But it didn’t take a worldwide pandemic to challenge the theatrical movie industry which has been beaten down by the growth of at-home entertainment (both technology and programming), as well as the growth of interactive entertainment like mobile and video gaming.

One more indication of the changes in the movie industry today involve one of the great technology companies of the early 1900’s – Technicolor. This company was created in 1914 by two scientists in Boston who attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (hence the work “Techni” before “color”). Over the years, Technicolor came to dominate the technology used to produce movies in color. Now they have announced that they are selling their post production business. Other deals have also been made in the post-production area, such as Company 3’s sale to Framestore, a large visual effects and production company backed by China Cultural Investments Holding Companyof Shanghai, China.

This deal moves the Technicolor unit into a larger enterprise in the post-production world and, presumably, will provide added value to the buyer through consolidation and building scale by combining the companies.

Technicolor is probably best known for its work on seminal titles like The Wizard of Oz made in 1939. Technicolor will continue to be in “show-business” with its “visual effects and animation companies MPC, The Mill, Mr. X and Mikros Animation, which service film, TV, advertising, gaming and live events and are not part of the deal.”, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Technicolor also has businesses in the connected home arena, broadband technology, and set-top boxes.

Technicolor CEO Richard Moat said in a statement, that “The strategic sale of Technicolor Post is part of our long-term vision for Technicolor Production Services to focus on VFX and animation for the entertainment industry, and creative services and technologies for the advertising industry, which provide the maximum value to our clients.”

In an exclusive email interview, Bruce Hack, former Chairman of the Board of Technicolor and well-regarded media executive across traditional media and gaming. said to this author, “Technicolor is selling what is likely the least valuable portion of its creative services business, post production. It is retaining the more profitable and defensible activities, like premium film and TV production, where it holds a market leading position based on talent, technology and geographic leverage.”

Originally posted on Forbes

Before the World Wide Web existed, there were encyclopedias for kids, students, teachers, parents and pretty much anyone looking for information, to go to find that information. But the Internet and the Web have changed almost everything about most of our lives – and finding information is no different. Today, Wikipedia is one of the most visited Websites in the World and will it turn 20 years old on January 15, 2021.

For millions of people, Wikipedia has changed how they learn, how they teach, how they parent, and, for some – how they “borrow” content for a school paper.

At its core, Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia, free to users, and supported by a non-profit foundation since its founding by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Wikipedia covers almost any topic you can imagine from Advarks and Abba, to the Zodiac and Zip Codes.

The content in Wikipedia is created in a collaborative manner, with the leadership of a large cadre of volunteer editors, who rely on an iterative process of posts and corrections, which is the simplest way to describe the nature of a “wiki” editing system. In the nomenclature of the Internet Industry, this is a “crowd-sourced” platform. Perhaps the best way to understand Wikipedia is to read about it…in Wikipedia!

Many teachers and professors have discouraged the use of Wikipedia, both due to plagiarism concerns as well as the questionable quality of some of the “facts” in Wikipedia. But other respected instructors think Wikipedia can be a good jumping off point for a student exploring a subject. For many people Wikipedia is the first stop when trying to learn something or settle an argument about a certain topic or fact. The coverage of Wikipedia is immense and is presented in over 300 languages

For frequently researched and discussed topics, Wikipedia is able to be highly reliable and accurate, because large numbers of readers and editors are constantly watching changes on Wikipedia articles and using the “wisdom of the crowd” to keep articles factual. As we have found with social media and other information outlets, the “truth” is often challenged, but it can also usually be verified. Wikipedia at 20 years old is an important information source for most people who are digitally connected.

Originally posted on Forbes

This last year, while the world has been hunkered down under the strain of the Covid pandemic, a completely unrelated burst of stock investment activity has risen around gambling online in the U.S. There is a long and complicated history of online poker and online gambling in the U.S. But in the last few years, due to a major U.S. Supreme Court decision, the States have been allowed to legalize online sports gambling. Companies like DraftKings, FanDuel, Fox.Bet, Skillz and others have benefited from this trend.

Today another company expanded into sports gambling, when FuboTV, the live sports streaming platform, announced its intent to acquire sports betting tech company Vigtory. In the official press releaseit was indicated that FuboTV “expects to launch a sportsbook before the end of the year.” As a major sports media outlet, Fubo will be well positioned to promote their own sports betting product.

Forbes.com contributor, Beth Kindig, wrote a foresightful articlein December where she highlighted the attractive nature of FuboTV’s stock and wrote about the likelihood of Fubo moving into sports gambling. The stock has more than doubled since then.

Fubo’s press release said, “We believe online sports wagering is a highly complementary business to our sports-first live TV streaming platform”

Vigtory was founded in 2019 by Sam Rattner and backed by SeventySix Capital. Rattner is a well-regarded digital sports entrepreneur and SeventySix Capital is a successful investment firm with deep interests in sports and related fields.

Fubo shared more of their product plans in their press release:

“Additionally, FuboTV announced today more details of its online wagering strategy, further positioning itself to enter what Zion Market Research estimates will become a $155 billion industry by 2024. Through its December 2020 acquisition of Balto Sports and its content automation software, FuboTV intends to launch a free to play gaming experience this summer. Free to play gaming, which will be available to all consumers whether or not they are FuboTV subscribers, will first launch in a standalone app and later be integrated directly into the FuboTV user experience. By leveraging the Vigtory and Balto acquisitions, FuboTV intends to launch a sportsbook app where consumers can see current betting lines, place a variety of wagers, cash in their winnings and much more across sports they love. Finally, the company expects to integrate the sportsbook into FuboTV’s live TV streaming platform for a seamless viewing and wagering experience.”

FuboTV recently shared preliminary Q4 2020 results, indicating it will exceed 545,000 paid subscribers in 2020, a 72% increase year-over-year.

Viacom VIAB 0.0%CBS VIAC -0.1% announced today a new distribution agreement that adds ViacomCBS content to Hulu’s live TV subscription streaming service, Hulu + Live TV. This distribution arrangement will cover a wide variety of content such as news, entertainment and sports. In all it represents content that will be seen over 14 new channels on the paid Hulu live TV service. This deal is just another example of media companies placing their content on as many possible platforms, and with as many possible business models, as they believe makes sense for their overall business.

The deal was described by ViacomCBS as a “multi-year deal” which includes continued carriage of CBS broadcast stations, CBS Sports Network, Pop TV, Smithsonian Channel, and The CW, as well as continued distribution of ViacomCBS’ premium subscription service, SHOWTIME®. The deal will also introduce fourteen additional ViacomCBS networks to Hulu + Live TV, including BET, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, VH1, CMT, Nick Jr., TV Land, BET Her, MTV2, NickToons, TeenNick and MTV Classic.

“We are excited to have reached an expanded agreement with Hulu that underscores the value of our powerful portfolio of brands to next-generation TV platforms and viewers,” said Ray Hopkins, President, U.S. Networks Distribution, ViacomCBS. “Hulu continues to be a great partner, and this agreement ensures that Hulu + Live TV subscribers are now able to enjoy the full breadth of our leading content across news, sports and entertainment for the first time.”

The CBS All Access service is generally seen as a successful paid VOD service for CBS. Plans have been announced to expand that service, and presumably substantial Viacom content will go on the new, expanded, ViacomCBS SVOD All Access service, which presumably was worked out with Hulu as part of the deal, though no such arrangements were announced at this time.

The merger of Viacom and CBS last year has brought together two companies which have had different approaches to digital distribution of their content. As TechCrunch points out: “Offering the ViacomCBS cable lineup to live TV streamers represents a different strategy than Viacom had in the past, before the 2019 merger with CBS. In previous years, it allowed a deal with YouTube to fall through, as well as those with other streamers, like the now shuttered PlayStation Vue. In the meantime, the company focused on more traditional carriage agreements with pay TV operators.”

As distributors take on new content, and new costs for their content, it is expected that pricing for various digital packages and alternatives to traditional TV will be changing. For instance, YouTube TV raised pricing by 30% in the middle of last year as it added more content from ViacomCBS channels.

ViacomCBS did not reveal the financial terms of this deal with Hulu. In November Hulu announced that the price for their Live TV service was going up to $65 per month.

When I made 12 predictions for 2020 on January 1, little did i know about Black Swan events, and I certainly didn’t expect one (by definition). I wrote these predictions for 2020 with no idea that we would spend most of the year in our homes away from work,

school, travel, etc. Now it is time to look at this coming year, 2021, knowing that major changes are underway in our society and economy, including those changes catalyzed by the pandemic and recession.

Some of the trends I have been writing about in general, and in my 2020 predictions, were clearly accelerated by the Covid pandemic. Overall most of my predictions were spot on. I evaluated those predictions a few days ago on Forbes.com and I got a solid B at 3.25 out of a 4-point scale. Feel free to read last years’ predictions and my self-evaluation.

OK, here goes for 2021:

1.   Gaming will yield some of the most exciting IPOs of the year and I expect we will

see Roblox, Epic and Discord completing successful multi-billion dollar IPOs in 2021.

2.   The growth of podcasting will continue strongly as this technology reaches more and more consumers with a wide variety of content, including emerging video-podcasts. Additional acquisitions will probably occur too, such as the likely purchase of Wondery by Amazon AMZN +0.7% announced today and reported in early December as a likely deal by Forbes.com.

3.   The “creator economy” will prosper in 2021. New tools and platforms will enable more professionals, semi-pros, and amateurs to make successful apps, games, or other software using creator tools from companies like Unity, AppOnboard/Buildbox, Overwolf, Roblox, Manticore, as well as TikTok, Triller, YouTube, Snap and the many video-centric digital platforms. As has been seen on many of these platforms, people are finding new ways to make money (some even support themselves and their families fully) due to the creator economy.

4.   Home voice platforms will move toward ubiquity in the U.S. and many more services, content, gaming and other features will be offered through voice platforms,

including services using artificial intelligence and machine learning which will advance the complexity and the quality of games, information services, interactive content, and social interactions.

5.   Everybody coming out of high school and college wants to be a startup CEO. One well-known, venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, even supports a series of fellowship grants that encourage students to drop-out of college and start their own companies.

6.   Disney+ is likely to be the big winner in terms of growth in SVOD services in 2021, but Netflix NFLX +0.3% will continue to grow, particularly internationally.

7.   HBO and Warner Media/ATT T -1.3% have created a major disruption in Hollywood’s traditional show business by announcing all of the Warner Bros. films in 2021 will be released on HBO Max, simultaneous with in-theatre releases (to the extent theatres are open in various markets). This will put a big hole in the finances of traditional movie

theatres. The question is will it be a major driver for more HBO Max subscriptions? With the SVOD world full of powerful competitors like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, and others, this dramatic move may be just what is needed to give HBO a top slot in the SVOD industry. I believe other studios will follow suit and close or eliminate “the window” between theatrical releases and the ability to watch at home on a VOD service.

7.   Snap will continue to dominate the social media usage of teens and young adults, but TikTok will also continue to grow strongly, probably at a faster rate than Snap. Both services play to the video-centric, user-generated interests of a wide range of kids and adults. YouTube may well start to feel the heat of these competitors.

8.   Cord cutting will continue to grow as traditional cable/satellite subscriptions are replaced in many homes by skinny bundles, SVOD, AVOD, and other digital content. Companies like Comcast CMCSA +1.7%, Spectrum and others will need to figure out new ways to make money with consumers, as well as how to drive more revenue and profit in their Internet and TV businesses.

9.   Mobile advertising revenue will grow considerably in 2021 as the demand

continues to increase from brands and products that want to reach the “mobile-first” power-users of smartphones, such as the Millennial and Gen Z populations. I expect to see a big increase in mobile advertising in gaming too, as the gaming companies seek additional revenue beyond the virtual goods sold in their “free to play” games.

10.   Gaming will continue to grow, in part due to exposing more people to more games during Covid. Game companies will also grow their revenue derived from selling extra content and items, or virtual goods as they are often called, “in-game” and this source of revenue will grow by double digits around the World.

11.    The stay at home orders for parents and kids has exposed most families to remote learning, at all levels of education. The “remote cat” is out of the bag and I don’t think the traditional educational system will be able to put the “toothpaste back in the tube”. Remote learning will grow considerably in 2021, and potentially more kids will be officially home-schooled. For colleges and universities the tough question is will people still spend and borrow big money to pay huge tuition bills for four or five years?

12.    Security and privacy concerns will continue to dominate the high-tech news in Washington, D.C. and the European Union. Governments and companies (look at Apple’s changes about device identifiers) will take steps to protect consumers from security breaches, as well as from invasions of their privacy, including some of the targeting of advertising that is used today. I do not expect any government to successfully force the break-up of companies like Google or Facebook, despite the predictions of others.

Last year I presented my predictions in technology and media for 2020 in Forbes.com. As one would expect, in some cases I was right on the nose, in other cases, I was a few steps behind, and in a few cases, I was just plain wrong. I will be publishing on Forbes.com, in a few days, my predictions for 2021, but lets look first at how I did in 2020. This will be a “self-graded” evaluation. The prediction is in normal case below and the evaluation is in italics.

1.   Grade: – A

Prediction: “Unity will be a very big, and successful tech IPO in 2020.”

Outcome: Unity was clearly one of the bigger and better tech IPOs in 2020.

While Snowflake (who had ever heard of them before?) and Palantir also had huge IPOs, exceeding that of Unity.

2.  Grade: – B

Prediction: “Home voice platforms will move toward ubiquity in the U.S. and many more services, content, gaming and other features will be offered through voice platforms.”

Outcome: Though rates of growth for voice assistants and smart speakers slowed down this year, the market continues to grow by at least double digits. While not ubiquitous yet, these devices are moving in that direction, at which time the applications for these devices will flourish.

3.  Grade: – A

Prediction: “The ‘no code movement’ will prosper in 2020. New tools enable the average consumer to make an app, game, or other software using creator tools from companies like AppOnboard, Roblox, Tongal, etc.”

Outcome: The “no code movement” is part of the creator economy – the idea that regular individuals can make profitable content with no professional education or training. Roblox is one of the hot examples of the creator economy where the development of games is so easy that thousands of people are regularly making new games for Roblox. Other companies such as AppOnBoard/Buildbox and Manticore have made numerous announcements of their growth and success this year, as well as AppOnBoard’s success with a number of the top games in the charts built on their platform.

4.  Grade: C

Prediction: The App Stores will encounter more competition from other companies as we have seen with Steam, Epic, etc. This year will be the beginning of the Post-App Store competition for Apple and Google.

Outcome: While Epic, Steam, and others are launching their own app stores and offering better revenue splits with the developers, the Apple and Google App Stores have had another great year. Perhaps this will be one of those predictions that needs another year or two to mature?

5.   Grade: A

Prediction: Everybody coming out of high school and college wants to be a start-up CEO.

Outcome: While it is hard to have data to prove this, ask anybody funding early stage companies, and it sure feels like everyone under 25 wants to be a CEO.

6.   Grade: C

Prediction: The best days are behind for Netflix.  They will see big challenges in 2020 from a wide variety of TV and film content services, including Disney+ who will be the SVOD winner in 2020.

Outcome: While I still believe that Netflix has some challenges (see my upcoming 2021 predictions), clearly this was another great year for Netflix, and I could not have been more wrong. I did, however, accurately note the big success of Disney+.

7.   Grade: A

Prediction: Snap will continue to dominate the social media usage of teens and young adults in the U.S. and other high-value countries.

Outcome: Snap had a great year, growing in users, and clearly dispelling the notion that they were a “one trick pony”. The Snap stock has risen dramatically this year – 250%!

8.  Grade: A

Prediction: Cord cutting will continue to grow driving skinny bundles, SVOD, AVOD, and other digital content.

Outcome: I was early, as an analyst, in predicting that cord cutting would become a major challenge to the traditional media companies. That has borne out to be true over the years and this year the cord cutting continued to intensify.

9.   Grade: A

Prediction: The Internet and the Web are all about video. People don’t want to write, but they love pictures and video. The Web will be the strongest video platform ever. And the phone becomes both a camera and a TV with more video content being consumed on smartphones.

Outcome: When you survey smartphone consumers you find many people watching video on a regular basis on their “small” screen. The smartphone has become a TV and on all devices consumers are voraciously consuming “old” and “new” video content.

10. Grade: C

Prediction: 5G will present amazing mobile opportunities for publishers and consumers. The phone will become increasingly central to the production and consumption of video and other content. 5G will be a game changer, especially in markets where traditional IP connections are slow.

Outcome: While not my fault, 5G has not rolled aggressively this past year and we will see how deeply 5G penetrates in the year ahead. Once 5G is ubiquitous the power of digital content and services will grow even stronger.

11. Grade: B

Prediction: AI will be central to most big data problems, prediction solutions, discovery solutions, and management decision. AI will be proven to be big business that delivers value now.

Outcome: Artificial intelligence is at the core of so many big data companies and deals today. It seems like most new technology companies speak to AI in one way or another. While this is still the early days of AI, it is apparent that the best technology in this area will drive very successful companies.

12. Grade: B

Prediction: Tech and media companies will be challenged by the US, European and other government efforts to control data privacy and protect consumers from fraud and privacy breaches. Efforts will grow to break-up Facebook, Google, etc.

Outcome: Anyone running a Website or a digital app knows that the laws and rules are changing and growing in regard to consumer privacy and security. Big and small digital companies are all working hard to meet the demands of the regulators and legislators. It appears that the demand for more privacy and security regulations will be even stronger in the near future. And there is no reason to believe that the U.S. Government is going to push hard to break-up companies like Google or Facebook.

For a final grade I end up with a 3.25 out of 4-point grade average. So I guess I will settle for a solid B in the predictions department for 2020.

Advertisers are always battling against the seemingly innate feeling of people that “they just don’t like ads.” Advertisers are often looking for new angles, new twists, and new ad “products” that will grab the consumers’ attention and allow their brand, product or service to stand out among the population. Some advertisers have tried to make their ads look like “newscasts” or “content specials”, others regularly use known celebrities, as well as various “gags” to get consumers’ attention.

Sometimes I feel like the advertisers are focusing on just trying to “trick” people into watching an ad, rather than asking themselves a more fundamental question, “how can we make advertising more appealing to consumers?” One of biggest complaints consumers have about advertising, be it on TV or on digital platforms, is that ads interrupt, they get in the way, of content I want to watch, or listen to, or read.

Why then haven’t advertisers tried shorter ads? If an ad is 15 seconds and not 30 seconds on TV, then it is half as intrusive. Likewise, in digital video advertising, consumers might see 30 second and 15 second ads as “long”, but they will tolerate a 6-second ad (like many of the ads on YouTube.) We can’t force advertising our consumers, we have to make it at least somewhat inviting, and hopefully (and more advanced targeting will allow this) directly relevant.

So then what evidence do we have that shorter ads are better ads? I know many years ago I heard from a large media company that they had tested promo ads for their own TV shows and that they had tested 30 second ads against 15 second ads and found that the shorter ads drove better recall for the promos.

More recently, MAGNA, a well-respected business intelligence and consulting company, in collaboration with the IPG Media Lab, and one of the top companies in social media, Snap, conducted a study comparing 15 second ads against 6 second ads in the mobile video space. Even though the 6 second ads are MORE than 50% shorter that the standard 15 second ads, they still had the same impact (actually slight more) than the longer ads, as measured by key metrics.

Furthermore, this study found that both 6 second and 15 second ads were equally successful on mobile devices in driving the same level of aided recall for the product or brand, but the 15 second ads were considered more intrusive by the viewers.

Brands, products, service and all advertisers should seek to explain concisely and directly, particularly when advertising in the digital environment, what the value proposition of the item being advertised is and why it is relevant. The traditional TV ad world should look at trying much shorter ads on the TV platforms, and perhaps even less ads per show. Some advertisers might then pay a premium for shorter, better ads, that are not hidden away among the clutter of ads on TV and on digital platforms.

Wouldn’t it be great if the major advertisers followed the mantra by customer advocates to, “surprise and delight the consumer” by offering up shorter, more compelling ads.

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