Digital Predictions That Didn't Pan Out

Plus Viral Videos You Should Have Seen and the Fastest-Rising Search Terms

By Published on .

1. ONLINE ADVERTISING WILL GROW 29% IN 2008
As late as November 2007, forecasters predicted a huge year for online advertising in 2008, and stuck with it even as the economy started to stumble. Their rationale: Even if the economy takes a dive, online ads won't. In fact, online will benefit from a recession, as marketers move spending from TV to cheaper, more measurable media. Well, online advertising did grow in 2008, but just 15% in the first six months of 2008 and 11% in Q3, according to the ever-optimistic Internet Advertising Bureau.

2. ADVERTISERS WILL LEARN TO LOVE FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE
Neither Facebook's nor YouTube's importance to marketers matches its scale on the web. YouTube's challenge is to figure out how to add scale to non-scalable promotions. And Facebook's challenge? That's perhaps summed up best by Ted McConnell, Procter & Gamble's interactive guru: "What in heaven's name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?"

3. HULU, ANOTHER NETWORK ATTEMPT ON THE WEB, WILL FAIL
At the outset, the News Corp.-NBCU joint venture had only two things going for it: lots of good content and rock-bottom expectations. It was, after all, another attempt by big media to create a consumer web destination. But Hulu became the sixth-biggest video site in the U.S. and allowed skittish advertisers to put dollars against trusted TV brands -- at a higher CPM than TV.

4. DIGG WILL BE ACQUIRED
It's no wonder it's a perennial prediction -- every year Digg does seem to do a little acquisition dance with someone. This past year it tangoed with Google but came up empty. Instead, it settled for raising a whopping $28.7 million Series C round.

5. A GOOGLE KILLER WILL EMERGE
Despite myriad attempts (remember the massive hype around the far-too-beta Cuil?), Google has only grown share, and no one has emerged as any sort of legitimate challenger in the search space. In fact, some would-be challengers have shifted tacks, because going up against Goliath has proved impossible. Person-assisted search site ChaCha, for example, is now pushing itself as a mobile product rather than straight web search.

6. A BIG DAILY PAPER WILL GO ALL-DIGITAL
This didn't happen, but whoever made this prediction probably deserves a mulligan. That's because a major daily newspaper did go all digital (The Christian Science Monitor), but it won't happen until April 2009. Now, CSM is a special case with a different audience and economics than your standard daily. But there, too, it almost happened. In January, the East Valley Tribune, a 100,000-circ daily east of Phoenix, will go down to four days a week. The paper fired 40% of its staff (142) and will focus on digital.

7. 2008 WILL BE THE YEAR OF MOBILE ADVERTISING
You've been hearing that prediction since 1996, and every year people trot it out again. Sure, there were lots of advertising milestones this past year: Apple's 3G iPhone and App Store changed the way people think about mobile devices; the much-anticipated Google phone debuted; and touch screens became a staple of new phones everywhere. But mobile advertising remained a blip on the total marketing radar. Maybe 2009?

8. THE KINDLE WILL FLOP
There was reason to believe it would. E-book readers have been hyped since the late '90s to less-than-middling success. Amazon's version, the Kindle, started racking up fans so devoted that they volunteered to show off their devices as part of Amazon's "See a Kindle in Your City." In October, Oprah delivered Amazon a coup when she endorsed the product on her show. Since Amazon hasn't broken out Kindle sales, it's hard to know how successful it is, but one thing is clear: It's far from a flop.

9. BROADCAST TV DIES, WHILE WEB VIDEO BREAKS THROUGH
It was a tantalizing prediction to make: In a year when the striking writers had brought Hollywood to a halt, an explosion in web-originated content would accelerate the shift of dollars away from the tube. One problem: It didn't happen. The networks got increases from advertisers, and online video took a pittance in advertising -- perhaps $505 million if you believe eMarketer.

10. IT'LL BE A HUGE YEAR FOR INTERNET STOCKS
Nobody could have known the magnitude of the economic implosion. But few expected to see Yahoo stock fall to $11.12 from $23.72 or eBay to plummet to $13.47 from $32.49 or ValueClick to drop to $5.86 from $21.70. Back in January, J.P. Morgan's Imran Khan predicted a 34% earnings-per-share rise for major internet stocks. Needless to say, it didn't happen. Google didn't hit $1,000. And it didn't cure cancer, either.

Viral Videos You Should Have Seen

Views include all versions, including pirated. Metrics courtesy of TubeMogul.

1. KATIE COURIC'S INTERVIEW OF SARAH PALIN
57.7 MILLION VIEWS OF ALL SEGMENTS; UPLOADED SEPT. 25
The gaffe-filled interview, which exposed Palin's lack of expertise in foreign policy, became a viral phenomenon and likely the single most damaging blow to the McCain campaign.

2. 'WASSUP 2008'
12.5 MILLION; UPLOADED OCT. 24
The web-production studio 60Frames reassembled the cast of the original Budweiser ad for a pro-Obama spoof that went viral.

3. JOHN MCCAIN'S 'CELEBRITY' AD
2.5 MILLION; UPLOADED AUG. 30
The McCain campaign's most successful viral ad asked whether there is substance behind Obama's celebrity.

4. KOBE BRYANT VIRAL AD
20.8 MILLION; UPLOADED APRIL 10
Among the biggest viral ads of the year, the video tapped into at least four disparate groups of enthusiasts: the "Is it real?" crowd, Kobe Bryant fans, Aston Martin fans and Nike basketball-shoe fans.

5. WEEZER'S 'PORK AND BEANS'
17.1 MILLION; UPLOADED MAY 23
The band gamed the YouTube generation by casting some of its biggest "stars" in a music video.

6. CRITICAL MASS BIKER
1.8 MILLION; UPLOADED AUG. 27
An NYPD officer was caught on tape brutalizing a Critical Mass biker. The cop was reassigned to desk duty pending investigation.

7. SEINFELD/GATES MICROSOFT ADS
12.1 MILLION; UPLOADED SEPT. 4 AND SEPT. 11
Though critically panned, Microsoft's ads with Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates generated conversation and racked up impressive viewing on the web.

8. 'WHY EVERY GUY SHOULD BUY THEIR GIRLFRIEND WII FIT'
10.6 MILLION; UPLOADED MAY 5
One ad-agency couple, a handicam, a "Wii Fit," and a deplorable trend is born.

9. AWARENESS TEST
MORE THAN 10 MILLION; UPLOADED MARCH 10
This brilliant PSA for Transport for London encouraged motorists to start seeing cyclists.

10. 'CHRISTIAN THE LION'
34.4 MILLION; UPLOADED JUNE 28
A video from the 1970s of the reunion of a wild lion with the men who raised it got well over 30 million views 30 years after the incident was filmed.

Fastest-Rising Search Terms in the U.S. in 2008

  1. obama
  2. facebook
  3. att
  4. iphone
  5. youtube
  6. fox news
  7. palin
  8. beijing 2008
  9. david cook
  10. surf the channel
Source: Google
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