January – Ecommerce Surprise
All those still touting the “new normal” are agog at the U.S. holiday spending stats, which show the online portion nearly double digits over 2009. Finally, we can all move on without guilt.
February – Super TV
The usual dopey articles rating the Super Bowl commercials will run. And others will try and write about innovative social media tie-ins (“Oh my God – 70 million people ‘checked in’ to the Super Bowl game! Oh my God!”). The story that will be missed is marketers’ resurgent conviction in traditional media.
March – Up Your Smartphone
Based on nothing but press releases and anecdotes, a major research firm will announce an update to its forecast for 2011 mobile advertising, boosting it by at least 10%. It will be the first of three such announcements in 2011. With neither Apple, Google, nor private mobile ad networks sharing any financial details, there will be no way to determine forecast accuracy. But for the sixth year in a row, “this will be the year of mobile.”
April – Bank On It
As the economy mends, for real, the trade press starts to notice how the smaller banks and credit unions are growing through mergers, spending on all kinds of traditional and innovative marketing services. It serves as a mini-boom for smaller entrepreneurial and digital agencies, who question their long-held beliefs about vertical industry specialization and client conflict. The entire issue passes unnoticed by the large ad agencies, of course.
May – Up Your Sign
As in March, an upwardly revised forecast comes out for media spending, this time for digital out of home. However, unlike for mobile advertising, no one notices because DOOH is still seen by most of the marketing world as the drunk, gay uncle at Thanksgiving.
June – Walmart Stunner
After continuing to lumber through the first part of the year in its U.S. business, Walmart announces a major out-of-category acquisition. Questioned at the press conference about the not-so-apparent cultural synergies, a frustrated CEO says “How the f&ck else are you supposed to grow a gazillion-dollar business?”
July – Cut This Cord
The financial press is awash in headlines like “Netflix: The Best Short Ever?” as it becomes clear that video cord cutting isn’t going as planned. Consumers cite dearth of good content as their #1 gripe, but it’s the #2 issue that gets more notice – getting $5ed and $10ed to death trying to cobble together a month’s worth of decent viewing. “I might just as well pay the cable company and be done with it,” says a 25-year-old male in a New York Times Sunday Magazine feature article.
August – NYTimes.com’s First Paywall Victim
After receiving an inordinate volume of reader complaints about the value of paying for access to long-time Advertising columnist Stuart Elliott’s articles, the Times forces him to retire. Readers note that every article begins with a reference to a 1950s Broadway show, and closes with a bad pun. “The remainder is nothing but quotes from someone at Kraft or Coke going on and on about ‘breaking through the clutter’ and ‘connecting with the consumer in a more personalized way,’ said one complainant. “Why the F am I paying for this mailed-in shite?”
September – Private Parts
The privacy fowl-ups among Internet companies continues unabated throughout the year, then, in September, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Groupon and Amazon are all hacked by a foreign criminal syndicate. Detailed, private financial and personal data for Congressmen, CEOs, professional athletes and Hollywood celebrities are exposed. Internet traffic plummets to 50% of normal for two weeks.
October – The Year of MisContent
The online journalism mill Associated Content announces it has published its one-millionth article in 2011 that begins with the words “Five Reasons You Should...” The other online journalism mill Demand Media immediately publishes a story “Five Reasons You Should Know We Reached a Million ‘Five Reasons’ Stories First!”
November – No M in CEO
The business press can’t keep up with the rash of stories about CEOs being dismissed, including one sweaty bald guy out west. Only one reporter backtracks through it all and discovers that not a single CMO was named as a CEO replacement.
December – Changency
Real reform seems afoot at two large NYC-based ad agencies. No Titanic deck chair rearrangement stuff; rather, real organizational streamlining and measurable improvements to client service. Work is prioritized, minimal handoffs are made, and reward is data driven and measurement based. Said one client, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just has to be a better strategy, better executed than our competition.”