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A Prediction Junkie's Guide To 2007

2007’s the year of video hotspotting, tagging, and Google urinal ads. We’ll find out come December. In the meantime, here’s the MediaPost column on 2007 predictions:

A Prediction Junkie’s Guide to 2007

I’m a prediction junkie. Of the 40 Search Insider columns by
any author in the past year that included some form of the word
“predict,” I wrote 40% of them, though I only wrote 20% of the columns.
I’m fascinated by connecting the dots of the past to try to foretell
what’s ahead. Now, thanks in large part to reviewing the events of the
previous year, here’s what you can expect in 2007:

1) Health Search Revitalizes the Vertical Boom.
Some of the features from health search engines have already inspired
features in the major engines (type in “diabetes” in Google for an
example of Google’s “refine results” options; the same refinement is
offered now for other searches, such as “wii” and “zelda”). I ran a column on Healia
a few months back, and in the past few months, I’ve spoken to a number
of other companies in the space. Given the complexities of health
queries and the importance of them to the searcher, they’re going to
set the bar for every kind of search.

2) It’s another lukewarm year for mobile search. I’m going to
keep predicting this until I’m wrong. Look at the content deals YouTube
and others are striking; it’s not about being able to search through
all the sites’ content, but being able to access selections of it. If
you look at the most groundbreaking deals the major engines strike in
the mobile space this year, they’ll all be international. The U.S.
won’t be as fruitful a market.

3) Google strikes cable and radio partnerships.
I’m not going to belabor this one since everyone’s waiting for deals of
this sort. I’ll also add, for good measure, that Google will sign a
major deal for outdoor advertising. Google-brokered billboards and
urinal ads aren’t that far off.

4) Video shows signs of growing pains.
I’m waiting for the backlash to online video consumption to hit, and
it’s either coming this year or the year after. I won’t discount the
growth potential for video advertising. Yet consumption of video’s
going to hit a wall quicker than most people think, and it’s because of
the answer to the following question: “What are consumers going to
watch while they’re watching online video?

People can watch
seven hours of TV a day, but that’s only because they’re not spending
seven hours a day just watching TV. Along with the media multitasking
(going online, surfing the Internet, reading the newspaper) while the
TV’s on, we’re cooking or eating meals, folding the laundry, chatting
on the phone, or playing with the kids (except when “The Office” is
on). When watching a video online, we’re only watching that video.
We’ve dropped everything else to watch that clip. Food, sex, shelter,
and multitasking–meet the four basic human needs. Since there are only
so many hours in a day where one can consume online video, and since
video content in general is much better suited to televisions than
Internet devices, the rate of growth of online video consumption per
person is going to slow.

5) Video tagging and hotspotting will change how people find and consume online video.
Video producers will easily be able to tag video content in myriad
ways, from dividing it up into chapters just like those on DVDs to
tagging elements such as characters, genres, quotes, and other aspects.

Additionally, expect hotspotting to become a household word.
Through this technology, producers can isolate characters, sets,
products, and other elements within the video and not just tag them but
link them. For instance, in a clip of the “The Office,” clicking star
Steve Carell might link to his bio on NBC.com, and clicking office
supplies or furniture might link to Office Depot. With both video
tagging and hotspotting, the most successful of these companies will
find their tags better optimizing videos for the major search engines,
not just video search sites.

6) Image search will wow you.
You’ll be able to search for faces, colors, and even ideas within
images. Tags will help, but a lot of this will come from more
sophisticated technology, such as facial recognition. The technology
emerged last year, but in 2007, it comes out of beta.

7) It’s the year of the tag. Some might say this was true for
2006, but I’d argue that tags remained largely confined to early
adopters, such as users of Yahoo’s My Web and del.icio.us. In 2007,
Amazon will feature tagging more prominently, Video tagging will make
content more accessible, tags will be part of Search Wikia
(the heavily hyped “Google killer” from Wikipedia’s founder), and tags
will gain the spotlight as a major building block of the Web.

8) Online data storage ups the ante: 100 gigabytes free. There’s an online data storage arms race, chronicled best right now by blogger Jeremiah Owyang (featured in a previous column). In 2007, the capacity on free sites will rival that of external hard drives.

Thanks go to countless readers, colleagues, friends, and others who’ve
shared their insights and opinions, plus information on their
companies, making these predictions more grounded than they would be
otherwise. There’s no shortage of giants’ shoulders to stand on, and I
look forward to the conversations to come. Happy New Year.

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