Skills & Expertise

Reviewing 5 Media Predictions for 2016: Did They Come True?

Now that the year is wrapping up, let's assess the top prognostications made for the industry last year

The new year is rapidly approaching, which means articles about the future of media are parading across your newsfeed. But before you accept these predictions as gospel, let’s take a look at the media forecast for 2016—and see how many expert-backed prophecies actually panned out.

Ding Dong, Ads Are Dead

The prediction: Many media experts called 2016 “the year of the ad-pocalypse.” Digital News Reporter said consumers were in a “boisterous and resistant mood.” The number of mobile and desktop internet users arming themselves with in-app, ISP, and browser ad blockers was expected to grow dramatically.

The reality: Unfortunately for the advertising industry, this prediction came true. More than 69 million Americans used an ad-blocker this year (based on mid-year estimates).

That’s 34.4% higher than last year.

Accuracy score: 5 out of 5

Mail… kimp?

The prediction: According to senior editor for features at CNN Digital, Mira Lowe, audio storytelling wasn’t going to slow down anytime soon.

“In 2016, we should expect to see—or perhaps it’s hear—more podcasts as more newsrooms find success with audio content,” she wrote.

Lowe identified three areas for growth: “interesting sound produced for social web,” like clips from inside a hurricane; investigative pieces, including deep-dives into old crimes; and cultural conversations, like BuzzFeed’s Another Round.

The reality: If it seems like everyone you know subscribes to podcasts these days, you won’t be surprised to learn Lowe was right on track. Roughly one in five Americans have listened to a podcast in the last month. In 2015, only 17% of the U.S. population could claim the same.

It seems to be a self-perpetuating cycle. The more content there is, the more frequently people tune in. And the more frequently people tune in, the more content creators produce.

Accuracy score: 5 out of 5

Stream It to Me, Baby

The prediction: With online streaming services like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Video, many media analysts warned people would cancel their cable subscriptions in 2016. Millennials and Generation Zers received a new nickname: “cord-nevers,” or people unlikely to ever pay for traditional TV.

The reality: While broadcast subscriptions dipped in 2016, the numbers weren’t as dire as many pundits predicted.

PwC’s 2016 Media and Entertainment Outlook found 78% of American households pay for OTT services (or content via the internet rather than your TV). However, the majority of them use OTT to complement their cable packages—not replace them.

Accuracy score: 2 out of 5

Content Kingdom

The prediction: Content marketing was declared to be king in 2016. Content Marketing Institute’s survey revealed 77% and 76% of B2B and B2C marketers, respectively, planned to increase their content marketing efforts this year.

Not to mention the vast majority of marketers said they were prioritizing “engaging content” as they headed into the new year.

The reality: The inbound marketing train continued to pick up speed in 2016. According to HubSpot, industry adoption rate varies from 57% at the low end (healthcare) to 89% at the high end (ecommerce).

But the predicted focus on content creation didn’t turn out to be entirely accurate. The same HubSpot report showed marketers’ top objective was growing organic and SEO reach, not writing blog posts as it’s been in the past.

Accuracy score: 4 out of 5

Show, Don’t Tell

The prediction: Al Cotterill, creative strategist for Instagram’s Creative Shop, told Marketing Week in January that 2016 would be the year of visual storytelling.

“The proliferation of mobiles and smartphones has changed the way brands are communicating, with a focus on imagery over text,” he said.

Cotterill believed companies would experiment with a variety of formats, from short videos to real-time images.

The reality: When it comes to the Big Three (Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat), Cotterill was right on target. Each of these social channels added enhanced visual content options.

Facebook rolled out live video to all of its users early in the year, then announced a few months later these videos would show up higher in newsfeeds while they were actually live. The company also added live reactions, filters and replay comments, along with additional ways to stream and discover content.

Snapchat released Spectacles: glasses that let wearers record “Snaps” from their literal point-of-view.

And Instagram made major waves when it rolled out Instagram Stories in a clear attempt to dethrone Snapchat. The platform then introduced live video, which Snapchat doesn’t offer.

When you look at these updates, it seems obvious visual content has become more popular. But don’t forget, this was also the year Vine (a short-form video app acquired by Twitter in 2012) was axed.

Accuracy score: 5 out of 5

All in all, the prognosticators were pretty insightful. However, it’s always best to consider next year’s predictions through the lens of your own business’ goals and objectives.

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