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Do You Get the Signal?

By - May 02, 2010


Devoted readers may notice I don’t post here every day, and you may wonder – well what’s John up to then? Well, I’ve created a newsletter of sorts, a daily reading list with short commentary, called Signal. It’s an FM product and it lives here, at the Signal home page. Every day, I sort through hundreds of stories, most related to the Internet, media, and marketing world, and find ten or so that I find particularly noteworthy. I then annotate the links with a comment or two, and wrap the whole dealio up with a bow. You can subscribe to it as an email newsletter if you want, just put your mail up in the box on the right hand side of the page.  

I decided to do this because I wish I had such a product myself, and so far, everything I’ve ever made has followed that simple directive. Let me know if it works for you.

FWIW, my Monday Signal is up, and it gives you a sense of what the service is all about. Hope you like it.

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My HP Input Output Interview

By - April 29, 2010

For those of you who might want to watch what I’m on about these days, this is a pretty good overview.

UPDATED: Fixed the autoplay with sound issue.

Help BigThink Interview…Me!

By - April 23, 2010


Next week, as part of HP’s sponsored Input/Output series, I’ll be interviewed by the folks at BigThink.  

Here’s the link to the webcast. I hope you’ll join. I’m proud to be part of this program, as past guests have included best selling thinkers/authors like Chris Anderson and James Surowiecki. I’ve got big shoes to fill, and I need your help to fill em.

With my role at Web 2 and the CM Summit, I’m usually the one interviewing folks, so the tables are being turned and I’m the one in the hot seat. This is your chance to ask me anything – whether it’s about my writings here, my views on key industry players, my role at Federated Media, my predictions for the year, or my favorite color for that matter. The interview is focused on a theme, one that anyone who reads this site knows well – “Marketing in the New Normal.” Of course, the new normal is the real time, social, and mobile web.

So, help me out – what do you want to hear from me about? Leave your questions here, or tweet them out to me with hashtag #hpio.

I look forward to your input!

CM Summit NYC in June: Agenda Is Live

By - April 19, 2010

Screen shot 2010-04-19 at 12.57.11 PM.pngI’m pleased to announce the agenda of our 5th CM Summit: Marketing in Real Time. I’m excited about of the mix of one-on-one interviews, hand-picked case studies, and focused discussions with leaders from major brand advertisers, agencies, and digital media companies. We’ve also added new networking opportunities so that conversation is at the center of the conference.

Our early-bird pricing is available until this Friday April 23rd, so register today.

Details in our release here.

What: CM Summit 2010: Marketing in Real-Time
When: June 7-8, 2010
Where: New York, NY
The extraordinary speakers at this year’s CM Summit include (more are coming!):

Tim Armstrong – CEO, AOL* Henry Blodget – EIC, The Business Insider * Joanne Bradford – CRO, Demand Media * Deanna Brown – President and COO, Federated Media * Chris Bruzzo – VP, Brand, Content & Online, Starbucks Coffee Company * Dick Costolo – COO, Twitter * Dennis Crowley – Co-founder, foursquare * Seth Goldstein – Entrepreneur, Stickybits * Omar Hamoui – Founder & CEO, AdMob * Tariq Hassan – VP Worldwide Marketing, Imaging & Printing Group, HP * John Hayes – CMO, American Express * Curt Hecht – CEO, Vivaki * Bradley Horowitz – VP, Product Marketing, Google * Tony Hsieh – CEO, Zappos * Arianna Huffington – Co-founder & EIC, Huffington Post * Ann Lewnes – SVP of Corporate Marketing and Communications, Adobe * Bob Lord – CEO, Razorfish * Joel Lunenfeld – CEO, Moxie Interactive * Mary Meeker – Managing Director, Morgan Stanley * Mike Murphy – VP, Global Sales, Facebook * Rob Norman – CEO Group M North America, IAB * Adam Ostrow – EIC, Mashable * Amy Powell – SVP, Interactive Marketing Paramount Pictures * Avner Ronen – CEO, boxee * Chris Schembri – VP Media Services, AT&T * Hilary Schneider – Executive Vice President, Yahoo! * Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. – Chairman, The New York Times Company * Omar Tawakol – CEO, BlueKai * Tuan Tran – VP Imaging & Printing Group, HP * Ken Wirt – VP, Consumer Marketing, Cisco * Susan Wojcicki – VP, Product Management, Google * Dennis Woodside – VP, Americas Operations, Google
Hope to see you there!

The 2010 Web2 Summit Theme: Points of Control

By - March 21, 2010

web22010.pngEach year at the Web 2 Summit, Tim and I try to focus our program on an overarching theme that we believe best sums up the year ahead. This is never easy to do – the event is still eight months away. But this year I feel better than I ever have about our focus, because it’s a return to our roots, as it were.

If you know my work, you know I’m fascinated by the interplay between the entrepreneurial culture of our industry and the giants who have emerged from within it – Google, Facebook, Microsoft, to name a few – as well as those who have joined it from other industries – Comcast, GE, and Newscorp come to mind.

For 2010, Web 2 will focus on the chess game in which all of these companies are now engaged, a battle to gain the upper hand in crucial “points of control” across the Internet Economy. The idea sprang from Tim’s “War for the Web” post last Fall, but we’re taking that riff and broadening it, identifying chokepoints on an increasingly crowded chessboard.    

Fifteen years and two recessions into the commercial Internet, it’s clear that our industry has moved into a new competitive phase – a “middlegame” in the battle to dominate the Internet economy. To understand this shift, we’ll use the Summit’s program to map strategic inflection points across the Internet landscape, identifying key players who are battling to control the services and infrastructure of a websquared world.

The stakes are high. As the Web and the world intertwine through mobile and sensor platforms, the decisions we make – as leaders of this industry, as entrepreneurs, and as consumers – will determine the fundamental architecture of our society.

Will distribution, for example, be locked in, or left open? While the Web was once considered to be an open distribution platform, access to content is increasingly becoming a key point of control. The rise of iTunes and Hulu, the vertical integration of the iPhone and iPad, and the promise (or threat) of paid content have brought the model of free media into question.

Another battle is brewing for control of the social graph. While we’d argue that no one “owns” your social graph, Facebook may beg to differ, at least in practice, and Google has clearly laid down its own gauntlet in the form of Buzz and social search. Related, of course, is control of identity services – will Facebook become the one ring to rule them all? And is that a good thing?

Throughout the program, we’ll be talking to leaders, upstarts, and unexpected new players in these and many other key “points of control.” Payment systems, location services, voice recognition, hardware and mobile platforms, content management, data transport, commerce and advertising ecosystems: We’ll unpack them all.

We’ll look at the calculus behind entrenched platforms like Google, Facebook and Microsoft, of course, but we’ll also feature companies who are changing strategy and moving into new fields of battle. Apple as an advertising channel? Comcast as a content network? Cisco as a social network? Adobe as an online marketing company? And of course, as we do every year, we’ll feature the insurgent upstarts and disruptors who hope to replace them all.

I’m proud of the role that the Web 2 Summit plays, once each year, in gathering leaders of the Internet Economy to debate and determine business strategy. With this year’s program we’re redoubling our focus on this critical discussion. I hope you’ll all join Tim and me this November 15-17 in San Francisco – we look forward to the conversation. Early registration for those of you who have invitations can be done here. If you want to come, simply fill out a request here. See you there!

Announcing The Fifth Annual CM Summit: Theme and Initial Lineup

By - March 10, 2010

summit-arrow-color-2.png(cross posted from FM blog )

I’m very excited to announce the theme and line-up for our fifth CM Summit, to be held in New York June 7-8 (it’s the kickoff conference to New York’s annual Internet Week).

We’ve got a lot to talk about this year – our theme is “Marketing in Real Time.”

2009 was the year the web went real time. Twitter grew five fold and became a major online player, tens of millions of us learned how to live out loud in public. Facebook responded by changing its approach to user data, making its more than 400 million user profiles publicly searchable. And Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo began integrating Facebook and Twitter’s real time signals into their search offerings, creating an ever-circulating ecosystem of conversation across the web.

2009 was also the year the web went mobile and local. The “broadband of mobile” – 3G – became ubiquitous. As Apple’s iPhone consolidated its grip on the smart phone market, Google and its partners introduced the open-platform Android, Palm introduced its Pre and Pixi, Verizon its map, and AT&T responded in force, kicking off what is sure to be a multi-year, multi-party marketing war. “There’s an app for that” became a cultural catchphrase, and even Intel prepared to become a player in the new app economy, driven by the rise of a new class of devices, including netbooks. By year’s end, Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker had predicted that the mobile web will far exceed the current web in scope and opportunity.

Mobile, local, real time, social – in its second decade, the web has matured and taken a central position in our culture, one that no longer relegates the Internet to role of “other.” The web is now a part of every aspect of our lives, and as marketers, we must integrate this fact into our strategy and our execution. That means rethinking what we’ve grown accustomed to calling “traditional media” and imagining new ways to blend offline and online. It means developing the skills and practices of a publisher, and taking a platform-based approach to connecting with customers. And it means rethinking some of our “best practices” – including measurement, research, and the agency-client relationship.

So what can we learn from the past year as we enter a decade where the real time web will become ubiquitous? What worked, what failed, and why? What platforms have emerged as steady new partners? What startups are lurking in Silicon Valley’s wings, poised to once again change the game and offer new channels of communication with our customers?

At the CM Summit you’ll hear cross-platform case studies from senior marketers at brands like Starbucks, AT&T, Adobe, Paramount, and many more. You’ll meet the leaders of platform companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google, Bing, and Yahoo. And as always, you’ll discover the next wave of disruptors – companies like Foursquare, Boxee, and AdMob.

Here is the initial 2010 speaker lineup – expect more announcements in the coming weeks. Register now (while the early bird price is still in effect!), and I look forward to seeing you in New York!

Omar Hamoui – Founder & CEO AdMob

Ann Lewnes – SVP of Corporate Marketing and Communications Adobe

Chris Schembri – VP Media Services AT&T

Henry Blodget – EIC The Business Insider

Avner Ronen – CEO boxee

Ken Wirt – VP, Consumer Marketing Cisco

Deanna Brown – President and COO Federated Media

Dennis Crowley – Co-founder foursquare

Rob Norman – CEO Group M North America

Bradley Horowitz – VP, Product Marketing Google

Susan Wojcicki – VP, Product Management Google

Dennis Woodside – VP, Americas Operations Google

Arianna Huffington – Co-founder & Editor-in-chief Huffington Post

Joel Lunenfeld – CEO Moxie Interactive

Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. – Chairman The New York Times Company

Amy Powell – SVP, Interactive Marketing Paramount Pictures

Bob Lord – CEO Razorfish

Chris Bruzzo – VP- Brand, Content& Online Starbucks Coffee Company

Dick Costolo – COO Twitter

Hilary Schneider – Executive Vice President Yahoo

The CM Summit thanks its sponsors:

Premier: Adobe Diamond: American Express Platinum: Blend Interactive, Intel Gold: Dell, HP, Verizon Media Partners: IAB, Internet Week NY

PS – If you’re interested, follow us on Twitter, fan us on Facebook and join our Linked In Group. We look forward to shaping this conference together.

Search Getting Worse? What Did I Mean?!

By - January 06, 2010

(Excerpted from a longer post on BingTweets, part of a series I’ve been writing, underwritten by Bing).

In my predictions this week I seemed unusually glum about the state of search, writing: Traditional search results will deteriorate to the point that folks begin to question search’s validity as a service.

This statement did not go unnoticed by folks in the industry, and I received quite a few emails, Tweets, and comments asking what on earth I meant. Well, in the post I tried to explain:

This does not mean people will stop using search – habits do not die that quickly and search will continue to have significant utility. But we are in the midst of a significant transition in search – as I’ve recently written, we are asking far more complicated questions of search, ones that search is simply not set up to answer. This incongruence is not really fair to blame on search, but so it goes. Add to this the problem of an entire ecosystem set up to game AdWords, and the table is set.

Let me use this final BingTweets entry to expand on what I meant.

My statement about how we’re asking “far more complicated questions of search” is a riff on the writings I’ve done here on the BingTweets blog, specifically, my three part series on “Decisions Are Never Easy” (1, 2, 3). In short, I find that all of us are expecting search, a technology built to answer one-dimensional questions like “capital of Yemen”, to answer questions that have more than one semantic meaning (“Yemen al qaeda leadership diplomacy”). As a reader (and search entrepreneur) put it in an email to me: “When people move to complex queries (defined as two or more semantically disjunct terms), search breaks down. All it is really fit to do is deliver all the permutations. Imagine a 5-term query, all semantically disjunct. …. such as … “green tea, life quality, life expectancy, cancer, tumor”. Did you ever try and read 40,000 documents?”

Well no, none of us ever try to read all the documents search brings back – all the “permutations” that search faithfully (and rather unintelligently) renders to us. We all know by now that when we ask a complicated question of search, search will pretty much throw everything and the kitchen sink at us. And we don’t want all that information. We want our answer!

I have no doubt that such an answer is coming, but before it does, we have to go through a period of disappointment. ……. (continued)

Predictions 2010

By - January 03, 2010


crystal ball-tm.jpg


2009 Predictions

2009 How I Did

2008 Predictions

2008 How I Did

2007 Predictions

2007 How I Did
2006 Predictions
2006 How I Did
2005 Predictions
2005 How I Did
2004 Predictions

2004 How I Did

A new decade. I like the sound of that. I’m a bit late on these, but for some reason these predictions refused to be rushed. I haven’t had the contemplative time I usually get over the holidays, and I need a fair amount of that before I can really get my head around attempting something as presumptive as forecasting a year.

So I’ll just start writing and see what comes.

While past predictions have focused on specific companies and industry segments (like Internet marketing), I think I’ll try to stay meta this time. Except for Google, of course, which is still the only company in the Internet economy that can be seen from space. For now. But we’ll get to that.

1. 2010 will mark the beginning of the end of US dominance of the web. I am not predicting the decline of the US Internet market, but rather its eclipse in size and overall influence by other centers of web economies. In essence, this is not an Internet prediction, but an economic one, as the web is simply a reflection of the world, and the world is clearly moving away from a US-dominated model.

2. Google will make a corporate decision to become seen as a software brand rather than as “just a search engine.” I see this as a massive cultural shift that will cause significant rifts inside the company, but I also see it as inevitable. Google, once the “pencil” of the Internet, has become a newer, more open version of Microsoft, and it has to admit as much both to itself as well as to its public, or it will start to lose credibility with all its constituents. While the company flirted with the title of “media company” I think “software company” fits it better, and allows it to focus and to lean into its most significant projects, all of which are software-driven: Chrome OS, Android, Search, and Docs (Office/Cloud Apps).

This shift means Google will, by years end and with fits and starts, begin to minimize its efforts in media, including social media, seeking to embrace and partner rather than compete directly. This is a significant prediction, as Facebook is clearly Google’s most direct competitor in many areas, but Google will realize, if it has not already, that it cannot out Facebook Facebook, but it sure can be a better software company.

3. 2010 will see a major privacy brouhaha, not unlike the AOL search debacle but around social and/or advertising related data. Despite the rise of personalized privacy dashboards for most major sites, there is still no industry standard for how marketing data is leveraged, and there is a brewing war for that data between marketers, their agencies, and third parties like ad networks and measurement companies. Add in a querulous legislative environment, and it’s hard to imagine there not being some kind of major flap in the coming year.

4. By year’s end the web will have seen a significant new development in user interface design, one that will have gained rapid adoption amongst many “tier one” sites, in particularly those which cover the industry.

Despite nearly ten years of blogging, most publishing sites are still stuck in the mode of “post and push down,” which is, frankly, a terrible UI for anyone other than news hounds. Thanks to the three-headed force of social, gaming, and mobile, I think the PC web is due for a UI overhaul, and we’ll see new approaches to navigation and presentation evolve into a recognizable new standard.

apple_newton130_iphone3g.jpg5. (image) Apple’s “iTablet” will disappoint. Sorry Apple fanboys, but the use case is missing, even if the thing is gorgeous and kicks ass for so many other reasons. Until the computing UI includes culturally integrated voice recognition and a new approach to browsing (see #4), the “iTablet” is just Newton 2.0. Of course, the Newton was just the iPhone, ten years early and without the phone bit….and the Mac was just Windows, ten years before Windows really took hold, and Next was just ….oh never mind.

6. 2010 will see the rise of an open gaming platform, much as 2009 was the year of an open phone platform (Android). Imagine what might happen when the hegemony of current game development is questioned – I want open development for Halo and Guitar Hero, damnit!

7. Traditional search results will deteriorate to the point that folks begin to question search’s validity as a service. This does not mean people will stop using search – habits do not die that quickly and search will continue to have significant utility. But we are in the midst of a significant transition in search – as I’ve recently written, we are asking far more complicated questions of search, ones that search is simply not set up to answer. This incongruence is not really fair to blame on search, but so it goes. Add to this the problem of an entire ecosystem set up to game AdWords, and the table is set. Google will take most of the brand blame, but also do the most to address the issue in 2010.

8. Bing will move to a strong but distant second in search, eclipsing Yahoo in share. Of course, with the Yahoo deal, it’s rather hard to understand search share, but I measure it by “where search queries originate.” This is a pretty bold prediction, given the nearly 7-point spread between Bing and Yahoo now, but I think Microsoft will pick up significant share using cash to buy distribution.


9. Internet advertising will see a sharp increase, and not just from increased search and social media platform (PPC/PPA) spending. Brands will spend a lot more online in 2010, and most predictive models are not accounting for this rise.

10. (Image) This is probably a layup, but one never knows, layups are sometimes the ones you miss: The tech/Internet industry will see a surge in quality IPOs. However, at least one, if not more will be withdrawn as public scrutiny proves too costly and/or controversial. A corollary: There will also be a surge in M&A and “weak” IPO filings.

11. I’m out of my depth on this one, but it feels right so I’m going to go with it: We’ll see a major step forward in breaking the man/machine barrier. By this I mean the integration of technology and biology – yes, the same fantasy that fuels the blockbuster movies (Avatar, Matrix, Terminator). I’m not predicting a market product, but rather a paper or lab result that shows extraordinary promise.

12. I’ll figure out what I want to do with my book. SOGOTP, so to speak. Three years of predicting that I’ll start it is getting a bit old, eh? I feel good about branching back out into more contemplative fields, with FM in a strong position and our economy coming out from its defensive crouch.

As always, thanks for reading and responding. I look forward to 2010, it’d be hard to predict anything other than it’ll be a better year, overall, than 2009.

These Are A Few of My Favorite Posts – 2009 Edition

By - December 30, 2009

Going through the past year in posts, I realized a few things. First, as with 2008, I wrote quite a lot off site. Second, I need way better navigation for this site, as it’s got six years of posts in it now, and even I can’t remember what the hell I said half the time. And third, I want to write more. A lot more. I’m expecting that will happen in 2010.

But I did get to write quite a bit in ’09. Here are some of the posts I’m most proud of.

January, 09

Predictions 2009 (drew the biggest single day crowd ever for Searchblog)

On Alice, Tik Tok, Marketing, CES, and Finding The Ground (in which I propose a our industry had found the bottom)

More on The Future of Print and Journalism

Why No Twitter Search from the Big Guys? (it came, ten months later…)

(Credit, Oil, IT, and) Paper Ain’t Free, So Don’t Waste It.

February, 09
Twitter = YouTube. (in which I submit that Google must buy Twitter. It did try…)

Wondering Out Loud: The AT&T Network (in which I wonder if AT&T is favoring the iPhone over other devices on its network)

Google Latitude (how *is* that going?!)

March, 09
An “Undifferentiated slush of results” (foreshadowing of things to come)

ExecTweets (the first brand marketing execution done with Twitter)
It’s Very Sorta Twitter (Facebook, That Is)

Tim Armstrong To Lead AOL – Further Thoughts

Can Google Find Its Voice?

“Search Is A Pencil” (Twitter is a pencil, Facebook, Photoshop)

The Conversation Is Shifting (in which I note how social is driving traffic around the web)

What’s In A Name? Thoughts on what a brand means – as a story.

April, 09
The Twitter Inflection

Will Yahoo And Microsoft Just Do It? If So, How? (well, it didn’t quite work out as expected, but it did work out!)

News: Google Lets You Put Yourself Into Results For..Yourself

Breaking: Newscorp to Buy Twitter for $750mm in Cash (April Fools)

May, 09
Liveblogging the Microsoft Search News (Bing)

Twitter’s Continued Inflection: Time For Facebook Connect (in which I urge Twitter to implement FB so as to fix its value prop to new users)

As It Inflects, Twitter Must Add Value to New Users, Faster

As We Head Toward A More Conversational Interface, Can AdWords Keep Up?

Earned Followers Are Better Than Junk Circulation

June, 09
Google v. Facebook? What We Learn from Twitter. (in which I urge Facebook to make all data open. It did…)

Twitter Bumps Ceiling

English’s Millionth Word: Web 2.0

July, 09
Questions On the Yahoo Bing Deal

The Year’s Half Over. So How Are My Predictions Tracking?

August, 09
I Blew It On Facebook

A Preview: This Year’s Web 2 Program (Newly Added Speakers!)

Don’t Be A Fan Platform Hater

On Using Search for Decisions

Tell Me This Ain’t Facebook, Er, Twitter, Er, Both.

Don’t Be A Player Platform Hater

Bartz: Yahoo Was “Never a Search Company”. Me: Bullsh*t.

Apple: Is The Worm Turning?

September, 09
On Facebook, Comments, and Implications

Why Are Conversations (With the Right Person) So Much Better Than Search?

Watch Out Google, Facebook Is Gaining in PPC

On Complements and Showdowns and TweetSense

The IPO Markets and the Internet: A Thaw’s A Comin

Web 2 Preview: DigitalGlobe: The World Is The Index

Search Frustration: It’s Still Hit Or Miss On Complex Decisions

October, 09
What “Tweet” Needs to Become: To Share a Moment

Search Does That. Social Does This. Give Me A Reese’s Cup Please

November, 09
I Have A Kindle Now. But I Won’t Read A Book On It. Discuss. (the second most active post this past year)

Just Give Me One Modal Dialog ….

Thanks For Flying With Us. Please Give Us All Your Money. (the third most active…)

OK, What the Real Phone Map Should Be

December, 09
Predictions 2009: How Did I Do?

The Brewing Privacy Storm

What’s Up? (more thoughts on real time search)

Google Is Failing More

This is the Facebook Step We Expected: Default Public

What Are The Conversion Rates for Google’s “First Click Free”?

Predictions 2009: How Did I Do?

By - December 29, 2009

Screen shot 2009-12-21 at 10.35.33 PM.png


2009 Predictions

2008 Predictions

2008 How I Did

2007 Predictions

2007 How I Did
2006 Predictions
2006 How I Did
2005 Predictions
2005 How I Did
2004 Predictions
2004 How I Did

First of all, it’s either silly or sublime that when you type (or maybe, given Google now personalizes all results, when *I* type) “predictions 2009” into Google my predictions from a year ago are ranked first.  

Of course, when you say “predictions for 2009” it’s second.   

But I’ve already ranted about how the personalization of search is screwing up our collective cultural conscience (search was our social glue, but it’s dissolving). Is anyone out there agreeing with me? Anyone?

Anyway. Welcome to my review of how I did in my predictions for 2009. It’s been a fun year, because I made some seriously big predictions a year ago, so tracking them is a bit easier than in the past.

So let’s get to it.

1. Macro Economy. I predicted: We’ll see an end to the recession, taken literally, by Q4 09. In other words, the economy will begin to grow again by the end of the year, but it won’t feel like we’re out of the woods till next year at the earliest.

I think I got that one right. Not very hard to predict, in hindsight, but remember, this was Jan. 09, and things really, really, really sucked eggs at that moment.

2. The online media space. I predicted: ….will be hit hard by the economic downturn in the first half, but by year’s end, will have chalked up moderate gains over last year in terms of gross spend. I think it’s possible that Q1 09 will be lower than Q1 08, marking the first time that has happened since 01, if I recall correctly.

Right again. Spending in fact declined year over year in the online space overall. But it has rebounded in the second half.

3. Google. OK, here’s one of the biggies. I predicted: Google will see search share decline significantly for the first time ever.

Now, I know many of you will say that I whiffed this one, because Google’s search share is higher now than it was a year ago. But before you toss me in the dustbin, remember this: Google did lose share in the middle of the year, though it gained it back. And to my mind, any lose of share is significant. So … call this one a wash. It didn’t last, but it did happen, for a while. Now, watch for my predictions in 2010. Because a lot of deals are up for grabs, and Microsoft does NOT like to lose. AOL, Ask…there’s about ten points right there that are a jump ball.

#3 goes on to declare: The media business is more than a demand fulfillment business, and Google must learn to create demand if it’s going to diversify. That means playing the brand game – a game that has long been owned by what we call “traditional media companies.” Google has become a significant brand advertiser in 2009, in fact, it’s a client of FM’s in the brand space. And if an ad on the home page isn’t about creating demand for a new product, I dunno what is. I go on to prognosticate: Google has a unique opportunity to become a new kind of branded media company. It will fail to do so, mainly for cultural reasons. I think the jury is still out on this. Google is trying to be so many things to so many people, it’s hard to say where it’s going to land. OS provider? Check. Browser vendor? Check. iPhone competitor? Check. Office suite player? Check. But brand that means anything but search? No check. Yet.

4. In this one I predicted: Google stock will soar in by Q3-4 of 2009, mainly because demand will pick up, and when demand picks up, it’s like rain on a field of newly sown wheat.

Well, here’s the chart:

Screen shot 2009-12-29 at 6.11.48 PM.png

I think this one is a big “check.”

5. Big one. I predicted: Tied to #3 above, Microsoft will gain at least five points of search share in 2009, perhaps as much as 10. This is a rather radical prediction, I know, but hear me out. I think Redmond is tired of losing in this game, and after trying nearly every trick in the book, Microsoft will start to spend real money to grow share (IE, buying distribution), while at the same time listening to the advice of thoughtful folks who want to help the company improve the product.

Well, it depends on how you do the math, but given the Yahoo deal, I think this one came true. Microsoft did indeed buy share, by doing the deal with Yahoo.


6. I next predicted: Yahoo and AOL will merge.

Oops. I whiffed here. It was a stretch. There’s always next year. I could have predicted that AOL would spin out, but that was so damn obvious I decided against it…

7. This one was predicated on #6, so another whiff: in the second half of the year, Microsoft will buy its search monetization from the combined company.

Microsoft in fact is doing search monetization FOR Yahoo. It could have gone the other way, but it didn’t. Sometimes the river card doesn’t turn your way.

8. OK, my big Apple prediction: Apple will see a significant reversal of recent fortunes. Well, it sure didn’t happen in sales or the stock, but I think it’s happening with Apple’s arrogant attitude toward its app store and network choices. I’d say this one was a push, not wrong, but not entirely right….yet.

9. I predicted: Major brands will continue to struggle with the best way to interact with “social media.” They will take budget reserved for media spending (IE buying banners and building out branding campaigns) and start to become publishers in their own right. This was kind of a gimme, in that my company (FM) is doing this for scores of brands, and 2009 was certainly a banner year (no pun intended) for brands as publishers. Open Forum, Starbucks, Microsoft Exectweets, Intel’s Lifescoop, P&G’s Petside, Asus WePC, and on and on….I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of examples. But I am quite certain this is a major trend and one that is only gaining steam.

10. An agency/publisher prediction: Agencies will increasingly see their role as that of publishers. Publishers will increasingly see their role as that of agencies. ….. It takes both agents to get good media made. A very subjective prediction which again, I think is truly happening. Of course, I can only state that as anecdotal fact. But if you’re in the agency or publishing business, I’d love your thoughts in the comments….

11. OK, the Twitter prediction. Now remember, on Jan 1 2009 it was not a slam dunk to say this: Twitter will continue its meteoric rise. This is a very hard prediction to make, because so much depends on the company’s ability to execute two crucial – and exceedingly difficult – new features: The integration of search into the service, and the monetization of that integration.

Now, Twitter did have its year of years, growing extraordinarily, but traditional measure of growth flattened and petered out by the second half of the year. Why? Well, third party clients, for the most part, and a failure of the company to convert its media darling status into long term usage. But Twitter has rolled out a cavalcade of new features in the past few months, most aimed at fixing the initial use case problem I’ve pointed out time and time again.

In this prediction I also said: By the middle of 2009, the integration of Twitter’s community and content will become commonplace in well-executed marketing on third party sites. Again, I think this one has occurred, many times over.

12. This is one of my favorites, the Facebook prediction: Facebook will do something entirely shocking and unpredictable. I am not certain what, but it won’t have a “status quo” year. It might be a merger with a traditional media company, a major alliance with Google, hiring a head scratcher as CEO, or something else at that level of “WTF!?” As I think about it, it might be as simple as making Facebook Connect truly open, and changing its policies to make it drop dead easy to get data out of the service.


However, I also predicted: Facebook will “friend” Twitter and the two companies will become strong partners. Well, you can now updated Twitter from Facebook, so that’s a start. But they’re not pals yet, so this one is not exactly a hit.

13. My mobile prediction: Lucky #13 is reserved for my eternal mobile prediction: 2009 will see the year mobility becomes presumptive in every aspect of the web. I’m not even going to try to defend this one. I think 2009 was the year mobile eclipsed the PC web in terms of what matters to our industry. If you disagree, I’ll see ya in the comments.

14. OK. My last one, well, I whiffed on it – mostly. It was my book prediction. I said: “Lastly, I promise, I will have sold my book and will be hard at work on it. And yes, still running FM too. I think I have a way to do both.” Well, I didn’t sell the new book to anyone, mainly because once I do, I have to write it. And I can’t do that till I feel like FM is really, really in great hands. And guess what…it is. I am still running it as CEO, but now I have a wonderful President/COO, Deanna Brown. And she is a true partner and pro, and I am feeling very, very good about 2010. So give me half a point there…

So, adding it all up, I’d say I did a 10.5 out of 14. What do you think? Did I do alright? And do you agree with my interpretations?

Happy Holidays and New Year to all of you. I can’t wait for the next year. I really think it’s going to be a big one for all of us.