2017 Predictions: 6-Month Review

  • Snap, Inc. Season — 2017 will go down as the year of Snap, Inc. Spectacles is currently in the midst of arguably the “best” tech launch in recent years and there’s no sign of it dying down — though, common sense says the buzz will eventually slow down. Spectacles will see broader distribution and increased consumer adoption. Brands will continue to test & learn and will have a direct impact on content production. In regards to Snapchat, it saw massive adoption in 2016 with 23% of total US population using the platform. In 2017, we’ll see further adoption, especially with older demographics. Snapchat will continue to hone its analytics and Madison Ave. will react positively. The narrative will move from “prove it works” to a “how can we reallocate budget.” — I’m going to try to weasel my way into a “win” on this, though, it’ll be hard. From a Wall St. perspective, this is a massive miss. As of today (6/20) it’s current stock price is down around $5 from IPO. In terms of Daily Active Users, Instagram is crushing $SNAP. Then there’s positive news like Time Warner entering into a $100M partnership with $SNAP. If I’m grading myself, I will count this as a ‘push’, though, the tide is certainly leaning towards a ‘miss’.
  • Social video will win a “mainstream” award — Just as we’ve seen Netflix begin to dominate the media award shows, in 2017 we’ll see a series/documentary/movie produced solely via Snapchat/Instagram Stories/YouTube win a major award. — This is still undecided. We haven’t had any major awards yet, though Cannes is reporting this week. Will revisit. ‘Push’.
  • Twitter will sustain itself — I’ve been very vocal with my anti-Twitter stance. The platform is struggling as key executives abandon a sinking ship, but I’ve abandoned my doom-and-gloom position. I believe the Twitter of the future will be a shell of its existing self, but that it will still serve a valuable purpose. From a news perspective, there’s still value, despite the “fake news” narrative. I believe we’ll see media publishers and journalists (however you want to define “journalists) steer the ship in 2017. From a brand standpoint, we’ll still see a pullback in media spend. Twitter currently (as of date of publishing) sits at around $17 & I believe it will fluctuate between $15–$18, before eventually finishing the year around $18.50. Twitter will not get acquired in 2017. — As of today (6/20) $TWTR sits at $16.93, which is smack dab in the middle of my $15-$18 prediction. I’m actually a bit more bullish on $TWTR than I was back in December — long term, though, it still has major issues. I give this a ‘hit’.
  • Amazon Go not ready for Prime — I have questions about Amazon Go. There’s a lot of hype — it’s Amazon, after all. However, I believe there are too many obstacles currently standing in front of it to make any real progression in 2017. Granted, they are likely using 2017 as a test phase & don’t have plans for larger roll-outs, but I think we’re at least 2–3 years out before it resembles anything other than a “test.” There’s cost implications, structure and logistic hurdles, security concerns, etc. As we stand today, I could see an integration with a 7- Eleven or some of Walgreen’s smaller footprint stores, but anyone dreaming of an integration in a larger national retailer (Kroger, Target, etc.) is a bit foolish. — Let’s be honest, very few people saw the Whole Foods Market acquisition. I was certainly aware of Amazon’s grocery play, based on the inclusion of this prediction, but I didn’t think it would acquire a major chain. That being said, part of the $WFM acquisition has to be in response to their struggles with Amazon Go. We don’t know what the plan is with $WFM, but based solely on Amazon Go, I count this as a ‘hit’.
  • Mayer gets thrown into the sunset — It’s the end at Yahoo! for Mayer. She’s out. She should have been out a long time ago. She’s made enough money, she’ll take her parachute and abruptly be shown the door. She’ll take time off to focus on philanthropy or starting a personal project, but she’ll be far from the major tech players. — She shouldn’t have even been in this position. Clear ‘hit’.
  • No major advancement in social platforms — We’re in a copy-cat phase when it comes to social platforms. Instagram copies Snapchat, Snapchat copies Instagram. There won’t be a new social platform darling and we likely won’t see any game-changing enhancements on any of the major platforms. If there is, it will be with Snapchat. — Another clear ‘hit’ as Instagram continues to copy Snapchat.
  • Logistics & transportation will drive innovation — There’s the obvious — self-driving vehicles, but I think we’ll see more innovation and advancement in areas like efficiency and cost of shipping & delivery. Drones are an obvious play here, but I think we’ll see non-traditional players lead the advancement. Companies like Maersk, Union Pacific & FedEx will be the drivers. — We haven’t seen any major advancements or innovation at the halfway point, but I am considering this a push. For grading sake, we’ll count it as a partial ‘miss’.
  • Automation will be a swing-and-miss for brands — Very few brands have built or implemented automation properly. Most of the use cases are chat bots and most chat bots are useless. This is a big opportunity for brands to properly understand automation, but instead, we’ll see more brands develop chat bots that are simply extensions of their websites. —If we are counting the above prediction as a partial ‘miss’ then I am counting this as a partial ‘hit’. From a brand standpoint, all we’ve seen are bots that serve little purpose.
  • In-home automation will go mainstream — and most usage will completely underwhelm the true potential. More of your friends will purchase Alexa and most will use it simply to listen to music or turn up/down the temperature in their house. Users will get bored, usage will flatline and we’ll be no further than we are today. There’s huge potential with in-home automation, but we’re too simple-minded and basic to understand its true impact. — Apple announced HomePod — which, surprise, focuses on music. I think HomePod has long-term impact, but it’s telling that they are focusing on music out of the gate — as my prediction suggested. This is a ‘hit’.
  • Houseparty — will win the award for “up-and-coming platform brands ruined.” Brands will see the adoption among millennials, jump on the bandwagon in an effort to be hip, use fluffy & pointless metrics to show their success, but ultimately get zero value from the platform. I can’t wait for the inevitable “Houseparty for Brands” blog posts. — Has anyone heard from Houseparty lately? Swing and ‘miss’ on this — though, is that a bad thing, really?
  • Apple will purchase a media/content studio/company — Apple has its eyes set on advancing its media capabilities — whether it be audio or visual. It could, but won’t, buy Netflix as it simply doesn’t make sense. Instead, it will acquire an up-and-coming production studio. No clue which studio it will be, but I don’t see it as a tier 1 studio. —All indications point to this being a ‘miss’ though I still have time! Come on, Apple. Spend some of those billions!

Predictions that are way too obvious:

  • Rise of “micro-influencer” — Yep
  • Increased pay-to-play — Yep
  • Facebook metrics screw up, again — Not yet
  • VR/AR is cool — It is
  • People say Apple is dead, while Apple continues to make billions. — Straight cash, homey.

By my calculations, I have 6 ‘Hits’, 3 ‘Misses’ and 2 ‘Pushes’. There’s still time for my ‘misses’ and ‘pushes’ to tally into a ‘hit’, but I’ll take a 55% ‘hit’ rate.