Tuesday, 18 January 2011

2011 - not as bad as 2010

Greg Grimmer, partner, Hurrell Moseley Dawson & Grimmer, begs, borrows and steals predictions for the year ahead – Sorrell is going to get richer; 2011 will be the year of mobile or location-based ads or digital outdoor (maybe); MySpace will shut; and Mail Online will become bigger than bbc.co.uk/news to name just a few…

The now defunct magazine Punch used to have a long-standing joke fuelled by its readers letters about ‘not being as funny as it used to be’.

This sprang to mind as I approached my first column of 2011 and counseled opinions from inside and outside the agency on predictions for the year ahead – and found the majority ‘praying for not as bad as it has been’.

Now regular Newsline readers with a long term memory may remember it is compulsory for columnists under the 1855 Publishing Act to write with their best soothsaying trends at this time of the year.

As I approach the end of my third year at HMDG and not coincidentally my third year as a MediaTel columnist, I thought I wouldn’t repeat my mistakes of previous years and try to predict wider media trends or latest technology trends but would instead beg, borrow and steal predictions from industry friends, media acquaintances and people who work at digital companies that think they know me.

But of course any prediction column has to start with advertising’s favourite white knight, Sir Martin Sorrell. Over the years he has enraptured city analysts and media journalists alike with tales of bath tubs, double dips and, more recently, clever acronyms no doubt dreamt up by Adam Smith’s team of boffins in WPP HQ . From BRIC’s to LUVto LUVVY, how we have laughed .

Well I have a predicted acronym for Sir Martin (SMS) in 2011 – B-O-N-U-S.

With the WPP share price up from 350p to near 800p in the last two years, it acts as a great barometer for the wider marketing services business. And whilst the city is sometimes slow to recognise the value of people asset businesses, it loves the cash generated by the media machine of GroupM and the smart acquisition of data and digital businesses (the latest of which Blue State digital was credited with Obama’s successful fundraising campaign in 2008).

So SMS is going to get richer, but what of the rest of us…

Well, my friend John has just launched a mobile business and he thinks 2011 is going to be the year of mobile. My friend Dave has launched a location specific advertising business and thinks location targeting is going to be the next big thing. My mate Lisa works in digital outdoor and guarantees me that this is the year it will come of age. And my friend Damian works at Google…!

My last column talked about the hegemony of the big brands in the web space – Google, Facebook, Amazon etc. However, another prediction for 2011 from just about everyone I have spoken to is that new businesses will continue to appear apace in the web space.

Whether ANY of these will end up with sustainable business models is a more moot point. At a recent technology fair I met a dozen or so developers who had no plans for revenue but a fantastic sales pitch for VC’s and other investors. The sage who wrote The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth forgot to mention that a computer science degree from Stanford isn’t necessarily accompanied by a modicum of business (or indeed common) sense.

So, back to predictions for 2011 and my New Year chats with members of our media family:

A leading figure at News Corp: “MySpace will shut, and save us money.”
Media agency
CEO: “We will not pitch this year.”
Marketing director: “I will reduce the number of agencies I use.”
Creative director: “We’ll crack digital by learning that it isn’t just uploading the TV ad to YouTube.”
Sales director: “We will seek to do a small number of big deals direct with clients.”
General optimism (even from the first contributor) was the overall feeling – and one that is mirrored in the
FTSE, the ad revenue predictions from the major groupings and even some high street retailers (woes of snow notwithstanding).

However, to end with some of my own more fanciful predictions:

Mail Online will become a bigger online news provider than the BBC.
Apple will finally make peace with Adobe.
Sony Erickson will stop making phone handsets.
Simon Cowell will get a knighthood.
The UK will start to become Olympics crazy.
And the one prediction that is guaranteed to come true – this time next year everyone will be looking forward not backwards. I hope your year proves to be better than the last one!