June 02, 2010

Why I Never Make Predictions

Diligent readers of this blog have probably noticed that the wily ol' Ad Contrarian almost never makes predictions.

The reason for this is simple: I hate looking like an idiot.

People who make predictions are almost always wrong, and usually wind up eating their words.

Here's a lovely case in point. I was going through some old stuff about the supposed "death of advertising" and came upon this from Bob Garfield of Ad Age, a rather bright and interesting guy who unfortunately fell victim to the compulsion to predict things last March...
The post-advertising age is under way. 

... the present is apocalyptic. Any hope for a seamless transition -- or any transition at all -- from mass media and marketing to micro media and marketing are absurd. 
The sky is falling, the frog in the pot has come to a boil and, oh yeah, we are, most of us, exquisitely, irretrievably fucked.
This kind of hysterical chicken licken stuff was all the rage in the spring of last year. But as I often tell my long-suffering colleagues, nothing moves in a straight line. Suddenly it's all different.

Here are a few clippings from last week.

First, from The New York Times:
...a leading ad tracking service reported that advertising spending in major media rose in the first quarter, marking the first gain since the first quarter of 2008.

The gain, 5.1 percent compared with the first quarter of 2009, was the largest increase in ad spending since the first quarter of 2006...

Thirteen of the 19 types of media...experienced spending gains in the first quarter, the company reported...(including) 22 percent for spot television.
The gains in the first quarter were fueled by important categories like automobiles, up 18.6 percent; telecommunications, up 10.6 percent; financial services, up 10.1 percent; and miscellaneous retail, up 8.9 percent.

In fact, 9 of the top 10 categories increased their ad spending in the quarter.
Next, from The Wall Street Journal:
The upfront market, the annual mating dance in which ad buyers and major broadcast networks haggle over ad time for the new TV season, is heating up, and could be sold out in a matter of weeks, ad buyers and marketers say
...It's a major reversal from last year when talks dragged on through much of the summer in a harsh economic climate.

..."I think we'll come back Tuesday morning to fireworks," another network executive says.
And from "Is a Better Caliber of Advertiser Headed to the Super Bowl?" in Ad Age...
With marketers' insight into their finances more clear this year, hope has begun to bubble that a more venerated class of advertiser will return to the gridiron classic. "You will see a number of people back in the Super Bowl that you haven't seen in a few years," Jon Nesvig, president-sales, Fox Broadcasting Co., said...
Mr. Nesvig has reason for optimism. Ad-sales executives from CBS, Turner, NBC and ESPN -- and Fox, too -- say advertiser interest in football telecasts is more intense ...

And ad buyers on the other side of the desk back up the networks' view....
So I'm going to stick with this bit of wisdom variously attributed to Casey Stengel, Sam Goldwyn and Neils Bohr:  "Never make predictions. Particularly about the future."

...this weekend, The Ad Contrarian passed its half-millionth visit. Thank you, gentle readers. Now, if I had only charged a buck a pop...

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