Reviewing Quietly’s Industry Predictions from 2015

Just as 2015 began, Quietly crafted industry predictions for what would happen in the coming year. There was no method, science or magic behind our predictions; just intuitive guesses about what would happen in the content marketing and tech industries. Unless someone had a magic crystal ball, it’s impossible to predict the year. (But we’re going to do so yet again. Why? It’s fun!)

We examine the best industry predictions we made in 2015 and determine whether or not they came true. Let’s take a look.

Industry Predictions from 2015

1. Journalism and tech will get along.

True: The so-called “feud” between journalism and tech isn’t over, but this year they certainly cooperated with one another better. Tech companies hired editors, journalists and content specialists to launch media divisions (Apple News, Snapchat, Twitter) while more traditional papers like The Washington Post adapted to new technology. There were hiccups (The New Republic fiasco, adblocking), but overall this is a glass half-full situation.

2. Paywalls and native ads will continue to make money for publishers.

True-ish: 2014 may or may not have been the year of the paywall, but 2015 continued to be a great year for early-adopters of the paywall (The New York Times celebrated 1 million digital subscribers). However, the real snag for publishers looking to make money were ad blockers. In response, publishers like The Guardian and GQ asked readers to either turn off ad blockers or pay up. For some, that meant making micropayments for instant access to an article (something like $.50) or becoming a digital subscriber. In effect, paywalls have become a way of dealing with the industry’s greatest threat: ad blockers.

3. Longform and shortform will actually work together and, to the surprise of publishers, readers will love it.

False: Brands and publishers have yet to adopt a system where longform and shortform content go hand-in-hand in the same piece of content. In the current blogosphere, there tends to be an either-or situation. Still, content marketers like Search Engine Journal advise brands and publishers to use both forms of content.

4. Publishers and brands will rely on third-party content like user-generated content (UGC), freelance content and aggregated sources.

True and False: From user-generated content (UGC) to freelance content to aggregated sources, we thought publishers and brands would seek to buy or borrow content from other sources. So how can this be both true and false at once? Easy: this didn’t happen for publishers, but it did for brands. In 2015, we thought we’d see more publishers use UGC content (beyond collecting social media posts) but that wasn’t the case like it was in 2014. Brands, however, found that UGC can be their best friend or worst enemy. Though publishers jumped into Snapchat’s Discover this year, brands were the ones to up their outside content game.

5. Brands and publishers will personalize content via algorithmic homepages.

False: Sure, there are algorithms for everything these days, but brands and publishers didn’t create specific, personalized home pages of content like we thought they would. Though Twitter introduced Moments and Snapchat Discover opened itself to publishers, the platforms are possibly too nascent to create ultimate personalized content. Add in the fact that Facebook page posts average a measly 2% organic reach and you’ll see how platforms aren’t as personal as we once thought. Or maybe they are becoming too personal. Either way, it never lived up to our expectations.

6. Apple’s Newsstand will die a painful and short death.

True: At last, at last—free at last. Apple ditched Newsstand to make way for Apple News, but according to Digiday, publishers ain’t happy with it.

7. There will be more longform satire news shows.

False: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver proved it could cover the news better than some news organizations. Although Oliver denies being a journalist, he’s certainly shown there’s an appetite and attention span to watch satirical investigative journalism for 30 minutes once a week. The closest we’ve come to that is The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, which is great but doesn’t dive into longform storytelling.

8. Video will change the game.

True: Video killed the radio star, and there’s no sign of it slowing down anytime soon. 78% of people watch videos online every week and 55% watch videos online every day; 81% of brand websites feature videos; and 52% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content that delivers the best ROI, according to this Hubspot infographic.

9. Someone will figure out how to monetize podcasts.

False: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Professional podcasters everywhere have adopted a pretty traditional ad-sales model where brands like MailChimp and Squarespace pay for a “native ad,” according to freelancer and podcaster Ann Friedman. For now, podcasting relies on a pretty simple and effective way to make money.

10. Tumblr will stay weird. #KeepTumblrWeird

False-ish: Tumblr had a really big year in 2015, but it didn’t stay weird. Instead, it got innovative by changing up its interface to entice long-form writers, adding a messaging platform and upping its meme game. It’s stolen the title from Reddit as the “front page of the internet” thanks to being the source of the white and yellow/black and blue #TheDress debate and countless other memes. Though we’ve lamented Tumblr losing its weirdness, it did pull off the greatest April Fool’s joke ever.

11. Wearables will be nothing more than a fad and ironically never be worn.

False: As reported by Wareable (a whole site devoted to coverage of wearables), the wearable tech market is set to explode from $12 billion in 2015 to $25 billion in 2019, according to CCS Insight.

12. This will be the beginning of the end of Facebook.

False: This prediction—aka #EduardoSaverinGetsHisRevenge—is too difficult to determine at this time. Besides, the company itself is doing well stock-wise and preparing to do battle with YouTube over video. Twitter is the one we should be worrying about.

13. Publishers will get just as many likes on their social channels as your aesthetically gifted tween cousin.

IDK…My BFF Jill: Is this too old a reference? Ah well. Here’s an explanation of it.

If we’re keeping score, about 5 of our 12 serious predictions came true. That’s not bad! Stay tuned for our predictions for 2016 where we’re narrowing our focus and continuing to rely on intuition. There’s no exact method, science or magic behind our predictions—just our keen observations, hopes and wishes.

Image: Kaboom Pics

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