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Ten foolishly specific predictions for 2012

I started writing this list of media and marketing predictions for 2012 and got scared. What if I was being so specific that none of my predictions would happen? Then I had a thought: Maybe I wasn’t being specific enough!

Here are ten predictions so precise that if any of them actually come true, it will only be because of my sheer brilliance at seeing the future. These might be longshots, but I have a good feeling that events similar to these will probably happen.

The stakes: Zilch. If a year from now I got a few right, I’ll take a victory lap. If if didn’t, let’s pretend this never happened. Without further ado, ten plausible but highly unlikely predictions for 2012:

1. Gmail crashes for at least 24 consecutive hours.
A high-profile Gmail outage will force people to ask if it’s wise to trust a free, non-guaranteed, “cloud” service with priceless information—and if perhaps it’s finally time to abandon email altogether.

2. At least one Super Bowl commercial is so offensive that a member of Congress goes on record complaining about it.

3. A national newspaper runs an investigation about paid placement online.
Are you a content manager desperate to hit your numbers? You aren’t alone, and plenty of Internet services will help you out, for a price. You can buy links on reputable news sites, either by dealing with them directly or through services like Outbrain. You can buy your way into strangers’ Twitter feeds, or buy promoted stories on Facebook. You can pay Stumbleupon to juice your content, or buy a sponsored link at the top of Reddit. Then there are less-reputable pay-per-click services that force your content upon people using spyware and other deceptive tactics. The ethics of this business are unsettled, and under sunlight (possibly pegged with the Facebook IPO) the seediness of this market may surprise the average person.

4. A social-media-driven weight loss program becomes extremely popular.
Surely somebody is working on this, right?

5. Apple introduces a video service to kill all other video services.
You don’t have room in your life to keep track of what’s available on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video (and Prime Instant Video), Hulu (and Hulu Plus), iTunes, cable TV Pay Per View, Redbox, Blockbuster, Vudu and CinemaNow. Google and Apple are the assumed saviors who will clean up this mess, but Apple has an edge as the owner of iTunes and a maker of hardware that’s already in a lot of living rooms.

6. The Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice file an antitrust complaint against Google’s ad business.
Google runs the most popular search engine. It also runs the most popular online ad marketplace. The result is Google knows and influences of how much traffic most websites get, how much advertisers pay for ads on most sites that run advertising, and how much site owners earn when they run ads. This is all handled by secret algorithms. It generates tens of billions of dollars a year. Most observers think Google wields its power responsibly… but most observers aren’t federal antitrust lawyers.

7. The OWN Network goes off the air.
Oh Oprah. Everyone loved you as a talk show host. Nobody loves you as a cable network executive.

8. Twitter and Facebook publicly apologize for the growing scourge of spam on their networks.

9. An angry online mob forces the CEO of a Fortune 500 company to resign.
With the right message (usually a complaint), it’s possible to quickly organize large groups of people to make a lot of noise and produce immediate impact. In 2011, online protests persuaded Bank of America and Verizon Wireless to cancel plans for new fees, got Netflix to reverse its “Qwikster” branding strategy, put pressure on PayPay to clarify its policies on charities, and acted as a significant lobby against SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act). Occupy Wall Street was propelled in large part by social publicity on Twitter and Facebook, and by donations collected through two techy, crowd-based giving sites, WePay and Kickstarter. What else will advocates do with this newfound power in 2012? Hard to say, but I predict it will lead to at least one major corporate executive getting shitcanned.

10. Mitt Romney clinches the GOP nomination.
Meg Whitman is his running mate. Obama is reelected by 276 electoral votes to 262.

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Fortune teller photo © Fer Gregory/Shutterstock

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Marketing, News & Journalism, Politics, Social Media, Technology

3 comments

  1. Jeff McKown says:

    You’re probably right about #7. I hope you’re right about #10. And I need to go get started on #4.

  2. Deepak says:

    Email!! i only use my gmail account now a days to sign up for sites, like leaving this comment. And ok, ok, Groupon, Fab, Gilt, LivingSocial, Ruelala, Spotify, LifeBooker, crap, crap, crap, oh and those pesky i forgot my password emails, i keep having to click on for all the above mentioned sites.

  3. darlene ronney says:

    Obama for President! Gmail prediction is true now. Your #1 is true now!I can not open gmail and it is true just look at the complaints.

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