Looking forward to 1996

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With the new year nearly upon us, Interactive Media & Marketing asked industry experts to tell us what lies ahead. Will Microsoft try to merge with Netscape? Will the Web break? No and no, our industry soothsayers said. But who's to say they're right?

In this industry, "I can only predict as far as the end of my nose," one executive told us. We couldn't agree more, but it sure is fun to try.

"Every person who's cool will have their own home page, and we'll all be sending HTML documents to each other instead of e-mail. It will be the year for software tool companies. We'll be haunted by URLs on candy bars, on the backs of sneakers, on T-shirts, hats, taxis, album covers, toilet paper. We'll all be assaulted by URLs as we begin to understand one-to-one marketing."
--Vinnie Grosso
VP-interactive services & development, consumer video services
AT&T, New York

"Advertising agencies and advertisers will pay dearly for their cavalier view of rights issues on the Internet as costly lawsuits arise...As linking to other sites and free-wheeling use of other trademarks on the Internet increases, particularly in Internet promotions, trademark owners of highly licensed marks will lash out at infringers. Look for actions from the likes of the Olympics, NFL, Disney, Lucasfilm and others."
--Doug Wood
Executive partner
Hall Dickler Kent Friedman & Wood, New York

"We'll see the first delivery of cable modems, and cable architecture will become the standardization toward full-motion and full-sound delivery on the Internet."
--Paul Sagan
President and editor
Time Inc. New Media, New York

"Next year videogames like Sega Saturn and Nintendo will have capabilities to connect to the Web...We'll also see Internet access providers bundling premium sites along with Web access, similar to the cable model where consumers can sign up for different priced packages with specific channels."
--John Houston
Chief technology officer
Modem Media, Westport, Conn.

"Bell Atlantic by this time next year may own AOL."
--Gary Arlen
President
Arlen Communications, Bethesda, Md.

"Phone companies will all be providing Internet access next year because that's what they do best--connect people. If the online services are to exist, they'll need to be very effective at nicheing themselves. CompuServe is effectively nicheing themselves to users who want value-added research capabilities. AOL is trying to be a mass-market online service, so if they're to exist, they'll need to find a partner with very deep pockets."
--Dave Zinman
VP-sales and marketing
FocaLink Media Services, Palo Alto, Calif.

"1996 will be the year for conducting commerce on the Web, and the real winners there will be Visa and MasterCard. It's still way too early for DigiCash or First Virtual to make any mark. GEnie will be dead. And unless Prodigy ditches their current subscriber base, they won't make it either...CD-ROMs will survive next year. They're great for storing lots of information. And it'll still be cheaper to Fed Ex a CD-ROM to someone rather than spending all the time downloading huge files."
--Nate Zelnick
Editor of Internet Business Report
Jupiter Communications, New York

"Internet usage will grow quickly, fueled by home PC sales and individuals and companies who are enticed by the ease of creating home pages. Actual transactions will disappoint commercial users, causing some to cut back on investment in their sites...While 1996 Internet usage will not greatly impact marketing funding decisions, spending on Internet marketing will increase dramatically."
--Debra S. Semans
VP-strategic and new product development
Holiday Inn Worldwide

"We've heard about `dumb [computer] terminals' for years. Nobody wants them."
--Craig Kanarick
Creative director
Razorfish Dynamic Digital Design, New York

"Microsoft's change in [Internet] strategic direction will accelerate the acceptance of the Internet throughout the world."
--Bob Massey
President-CEO
CompuServe, Columbus, Ohio

"The rapid pace of media mergers and strategic alliances of past 18 months will almost certainly continue...More and more of the non-traditional Hollywood entertainment powers will be involved [in creating content], as other forces from the computer, telephony and music industries sink deeper roots into the programming community."
--Sandy Grushow
President
Tele-TV Media, New York

"People will make money this year on the Web."
--Eric Hippeau
Chairman-CEO
Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., New York

"People will make money, and it won't be who you think. Virtual Vineyards will be a brand making money...Ad rates will go down for sites with a mass audience. They'll go up for sites with a targeted audience, because it's a model that reflects direct mail."
--Matt Thornhill
President
Martin Interactive, Richmond, Va.

"This will be the year for agencies who thought they were developing a new-media strategy for their clients by building them a Web site to get their come-uppance. Agencies who just built sites for the clients will be questioned heavily."
--Ted Leonsis
President
America Online Services Co. Vienna, Va.

"We see providing local versions of our services--like Yahoo San Francisco or Yahoo Los Angeles or Yahoo New York. You'll feel much closer to home. Instead of going to a broad site for, say, restaurants, you'd find one [listed] in a neighborhood with the movie theaters and stores near it."
--Jeff Mallet
Senior VP-business operations
Yahoo Corp., Mountain View, Calif.

"I think '96 is going to be the year where we see loyalty developing around content products--whether or not Web publications are building loyalty...I think publications that aim at a specific market segment with a demonstrative need for electronic access will do well, for example, sports services. ESPN."
--Martin Nisenholtz
President
New York Times Electronic Media, New York

"The Web will be here for all those who never wanted it to happen. All the companies who wanted to control the infrastructures have no choice but to move to an open standard."
--Scott Kurnit

President
News Corp./MCI online service iGuide, New York

Add your own predictions to the mix. E-mail them to imm@adage.com. We'll post a sampling on this site in the coming weeks.

Copyright December 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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