ON MY HOT LIST: Of hits and misses

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The Year of the Web. What a year it's been.

In January, we printed our first guide to marketers on the Internet. We looked at Web sites from AT&T to Zima and concluded, "This is the new interactive place to see and be seen."

That old adage--the more things change, the more they stay the same--is ringing through my head right now. It was one of our first predictions about the World Wide Web, and it seems like a no-brainer now. We could probably make the same statement about 1996.

In March, we wrote, "The much-feared Microsoft Network won't be as daunting as many observers and rivals expect." So far (emphasis on so far) that's proven true.

In April we said that providing search services on the Web "is fast becoming serious business." The rise of Yahoo, InfoSeek, WebCrawler, Lycos, etc. hammers that point home.

We had some misses in 1995, though.

Just a few weeks into the year, we predicted a massive shakeout ahead for CD-ROM publishers. We've seen plenty of companies go by the wayside, but this puppy ain't dead yet. Not by a long shot.

We--and Hearst Corp.--thought where full-motion video interactive TV failed, a project in the hinterland of Quebec would succeed. UBI was to launch last September. We're still waiting.

In May we thought the concept of an interactive movie was pretty neat. "Interfilm Technologies doesn't make interactive movies anymore," we wrote. "Now it makes movieGames."

Well, we were half right. Interfilm doesn't make movies anymore; it shut down shortly after the article ran.

Why am I telling you about our misses? Because when the world--and Netscape--are moving faster than the speed of light it doesn't make sense to sit and moan over the bets you made that didn't pay off. You take your lumps and you move on.

So here's a new round of Interactive Media & Marketing predictions. If 1996 is anything like 1995, it'll be a wild ride.

My predictions:

1. Microsoft will try to buy Netscape. But it won't succeed.

2. Time Warner's Full Service Network will finally reach its 4,000th home.

3. Major marketers who spent big bucks on Web sites in 1995 will quietly take them off the Web because they "failed." Truth be told, they just did it the wrong way.

4. Agencies will continue to grapple with the amount of resources to devote to interactive media. Web developers will still siphon off client business but will no longer be seen as a threat. The developers will realize they need the agencies to survive.

And some predictions from IM&M Associate Editor Kim Cleland:

1. Local telephone companies will provide consumers in their regions access to the Internet as part of their monthly phone bills. And online service providers will make alliances with phone companies in last-ditch efforts to save market shares.

2. The level of sophistication in the Web measurement arena will grow exponentially, and we'll begin to see real consumer backlash regarding the invasion of privacy such technology will bring. Regardless, ad rates will increase tremendously as a result of the specific demographic and psychographic information that Web tracking companies will be able to provide.

E-mail Interactive Media & Marketing Editor Debra Aho Williamson at [email protected], or Associate Editor Kim Cleland at [email protected].

Copyright December 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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