Every time I see a post that promises a glimpse into the future I read it. But is there any value in this endless future-gazing? After all, we seem to get it wrong as often as we get it right. Will my prediction that video personalisation will become the new norm in B2B marketing by 2020 actually come true? Early signs are good but one thing’s for sure - only time will tell.
When Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club released the original ‘Video killed the Radio Star’ (‘ Buggles’ had the hit a year later) it did seem incredibly prophetic. After all, three short years later MTV was formed and suddenly we were listening to music in a whole new way - by watching it. Not long after that, VHS became common currency and bands fell over themselves to release visual versions of their music. Why buy an LP with sound only when you could get all that and more on a tape? And why listen to the radio when MTV was on 24/7? There was a time in the mid-80’s when you couldn’t step into an agency reception without having seen a giant CRT monitor precariously hoisted above the receptionist’s head blasting out MTV. So did radio die? To the contrary, we all got so fed up with watching our music that MTV ratings eventually fell to an all-time low and sales of music videos plummeted. In contrast, radio enjoyed something of a renaissance until 2009 with 250m Americans tuning in every week. But that dipped again in 2014 with the advent of streaming. Maybe that really will kill the radio star?
Well, we all thought this didn’t we? Those of us that got the first Kindles saw it as a paperless future. But where would that leave physical publishers? Down the pan, surely? Not so. It appears that the Kindle became exactly that for reading in general, igniting fresh interest which saw e-books sales consistently rising year-on-year by double digit growth whilst sales of traditional books fell by merely fractions of single percentages.
I can smugly claim to have played the long-game on this one. As most of you cast aside your creaky old vinyl in favour of digital formats, notably the CD, I jealously guarded my vinyl collection which I have to this day. I always enjoyed the ritualistic exercise of dropping a needle into a groove and favoured what I felt was a warner analogue sound. It seems I was not alone. Lots of middle-aged men have revitalised their juvenile love of vinyl and a new generation of girls and boys, anxious to own something physical and fun, have adopted it too. 2014 saw vinyl LP sales reaching a 20-year high in the UK at 1.29 million, following seven years of unbroken growth. It seems that data for the first quarter of 2015 shows that this trend is continuing with vinyl album purchasing up yet again by 69% over the same period in 2014, and vinyl singles also up 23%. Cool!
When we saw the first iPads you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the future. Why would anyone ever need a laptop again? Portable, simple, cool, it seemed like the first step towards a brave new world. (Alright, so one of my daughters saw it as a giant iPod for old people who couldn’t see that well, but we knew better, right?). Manufacturers like Dell and Samsung fell over themselves trying to get tablets out there only to be disappointed by slow take up of non-Apple devices. Now it seems the tide has turned. Sales in iPads have slowed whilst laptop sales remain stable, possibly rising. So it turns out there’s plenty of room for both.
Oh dear. Back to music again. Famously in 2007, due to the way people were constructing playlists on world-dominating i-Tunes and later on streaming service Spotify, the band Ash claimed that the LP was dead and that they would never make another again. They then set about releasing 26 singles in as many months just to hammer the point home. Sheepishly, last month they released their first new long-player since making the statement. Oh well. You can’t always be right.
So, up for discussion. Will physical media (CD’s, DVD’s, Blu-Rays) soon be a thing of the past? Will media streaming kill downloads? Will cloud computing be the only computing? Will there be a time when we are no longer allowed to drive cars unassisted? Will personalised video be the new norm for video marketing? I’m saying yes to all of these. For now at least, but then again, we’ll just have to wait and see.