Fig Tree © Gary Hayes  2006 HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

So I made it through the end of year celebs, family and big ‘life’ changes that inevitably seem to happen to me around this time – and here I heads down and almost back into the blogosphere. What to start the year with? Well I missed the end of year upsum (due to the real world – you know what I mean) and think I am just about within an acceptable window to do some predictions for the year ahead – still in a slight foggy haze so forgive any bloopers. Not going to delve into further out predictions apart from copying a slide for 2015 that I delivered to the Small Screen Big Picture conference at the end of November for a bit of fun – so for 2006 what will we find?

Personalization – 2006 the end of search, the beginning of agents of choice?
It goes without saying that 2006 will be the definitive starter-gun, beginning of personalization, particularly of rich media! As Google and Yahoo bring their personalization services out of beta and millions begin to see the benefits of ‘agents of choice’ working on their behalf, a multitude of other companies will start to sell their wares to the mass broadband, too-much-choice audiences. There will be a big industry drive for standardisation off metadata as the complexities of not doing it become more evident to all. The most popular services will be those that offer tailored content based around collaborative filtering, recommendation and agents of choice – finding content relevant to you, automation of search, RSS filters, getting you to the good stuff ASAP.

Media mergers – where broadcast meets broadband
As in the last few months of 2005, 2006 will see more and more broadcasters enter the online distribution domain – whether offering archive through broadband portals or heavily compressed and reversioned material for mobile platforms. There will be more acceptance that the best cross-media strategies will be the ones where content is made appropriate for the platform and of course driving the brand across a sea of devices. We will see less of mobisodes for example, that are re-edits of existing or programmes and more content that is unique and exclusive to those platforms and drive viewers to other destinations. The business result of this is several surprise mergers that means telcos will find it easier to buy or be bought by media content companies and internet giants buying into content suppliers. In essence companies that can merge to form the magic triangle of 1 Aquisition 2 Good content and 3 Distribution will be the winners – Could we imagine some kind of deal between Google, Disney and SBC? Or what about TiVo, NBC and Cox? Write down key media brands in each of the three groups on pieces of paper and throw each pile in air creating the media triangulations of 2006 😉

User Generated Content – the real start of ‘meTV’
What we have seen so far as regards content generated by and for other viewers will appear as a drop in the ocean. The great unseen and unheard majority will start to really hit us so called professionals in terms of ratings. They will be producing content that has more resonance, drama and inventiveness than any script development or artificially generated show format will ever achieve. 2006 will see quite a few worldwide big hit shows that re-broadcast the best user content (video, podcasts, pictures etc) but the most significant development will be a deluge of vlog sites generating more traffic than many of the major broadcasters, and the concept of community TV will start to disappear. Many of the more talented vloggers will be tempted to join traditional broadcast media but by the end of the year more social currency will be to remain a DIY’er and stay indy and edgy. Blogging will continue to grow and by the end of 2006 more than 79 million blogs will be active – the media industry will have better relationships with its viewers as more individual personality is allowed to flourish through the blogging mechanism.

Personal Media – the year of interoperability
The exponential growth in media for our attention will mean more people feeling safer in their own ‘media’ world – there will be more need to share and manage a growing array of personal pictures and video as well as music and videos that they own and regard as part of their lives. The year ahead will see many hardware companies appreciating the benefits of interoperability between the most popular devices and consumers will be given access to ‘dockers’ – devices and software that connect our world together and allow us to share and distribute globally and within private networks. There will be more simple services like Slingshot, that act as redirect of media from central locations with remote control.

Relevance – the sunrise of targeting
No longer seen as a threat to privacy more and more advertising distributers will, off the back of significant developments in personalization, begin to utilise the opportunities afforded by opt in targeting. We will see in 2006 this particularly dominant on IPTV or broadband TV platforms where viewers will be encouraged to view ads that are relevant to them – although still in early technical trials those who are still hooked on scheduled and time-shift TV will have some ads inserted. The concept of targeting from a consumer viewpoint will be not be as imposing as the media industry suspects as more and more consumers realise they are getting a personal service.

Artificial intelligence – out-of-the-lab beginnings of automaton
Although not mainstream in the first half of this decade, 2006 will see AI start to permeate ‘popularist’ fields. Agents of choice that represent you in the digital world will have a crude form of AI and there will be more and more virtual ‘presenters’ appearing within video streams (pre-rendered) and dynamic, interactive ‘response’ bots acting as ‘guides’ to content on broadband sites. The lead up to the end of 2006 will see the first speech recognition response toy aimed at the mass global Xmas market and the era of robotics for masses begins. More importantly though AI will be used in new forms of emotional based narrative interactive services – a few PC games will begin to have real-time generative narrative engines embedded (vs pre-rendered list response) before the year end, and a few of these will start to generate story skeletons that will be rendered up and made into feature length film (machinima 2.0).

Finding stuff – the age of accessible audio and video analysis
As has been posted on this site several times during 2005 the next year will see far more effective ways of crawling and digging deep into audio (podcasts being the latest fad) and video – more and more tools that will allow us to turn speech into timecoded metadata and analysis engines that allow video to be segmented and catalogued scene-by-scene and have some intelligence to turn the visual image, embedded closed captioning or subtitles and audio into meaningful, searchable (by agents of choice of course) metadata. These tools will be available to the masses and companies will draw traffic to their sites by allowing UGC folk to point their ‘av bots’ at their personal content.

Gary’s predictions for 2015 from Small Screen Big Picture, final fun slide

    TV/Radio/web merge into being just ‘stuff’ from a range of content pipes. TV and radio as a term dissapears from young peoples vocabulary
    UGC – good story tellers become popular, bad story tellers do not – everyone on the planet can tell their stories to the world
    Wireless broadband (WiMax) is your main distribution source to homes and people on the move (oz)
    The converged device is your total personal storage requirements (1TB+), communications and av capture in one – you carry all your pro and personal av with you everywhere, it docks to your large home screen
    RFID devices delivers locative personalization – the mobile device becomes your augmented reality shop window to physical product and media
    Personalized content from many providers uses your one profile – content is targeted at you and you give permission because it becomes highly relevant<

    Posted by Gary Hayes © 2006