Happy new year everyone. I’m back in the office after a Christmas break and I thought that before I hit my reader to see what people have been up to I would, as is the custom at this time of year, offer some thoughts on the year ahead.

Given what I write about on this blog my overriding prediction for this year is a video one and a bleak one:

Newspaper video will die this year unless it’s targeted

There is a lot of talk already about 2008 being the year of online video. But rather than being a year zero I think that without proper thought it could be the first and last chance video has to prove itself. So this year, editorial newspaper video (in all its forms) may die in many publications because no one will give it a chance to develop.

Last year no one really knew what worked and what didn’t in any form that could be called a strategy and made to work across the industry. However there are now compelling figures on the way people consume video and the profits that follow those people. The problem is that many will judge video and build strategy against these global figures and trends which have little relevance to the local drivers for editorial content, the scale of audience or the capacity of the organisation.

The winners will be the ones who make it work because they have a strategy that fits their organisation and more importantly, their audience.
The increase in organisations who do it badly will result in the print industry continuing to cast video as the problem – a flash, unnecessary diversion from proper journalism – rather than admitting they just can’t do it. The problem is that, this year, without success stories that may become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Bearing that in mind, here are some more crystal ball mumblings:

Video has 6 months in your organisation

*If you haven’t got a video strategy or you’re still deciding on how best to get video off the ground in your office then you have 6 months to do it. Otherwise you’ve missed the boat. *

The reason isn’t that video will be old-hat, although there will be a number of ‘next big things’ to have to put up with this year. It’s also not because the audience will be tired with it – they haven’t been given anything consistent enough to be tired off. No, the reason is that the internal market/people holding the purse strings will, in 6 months, start to expect returns on video based on the figures that experienced organisations are pulling in.

You will only be able to get close to that or defend your position if don’t if you have some experience in what works for your audience. You need to get that now.

Video/multimedia metrics will become more than just marketing reports

We need to be editorially commited to this rather than just letting the ad department take care of it. You need to be fighting for good metrics in your organsiation. Otherwise you will be defending yourself against marketing click reports.

Your metrics need to be as important in discussions about where your publication goes on the web as ABC/ABCe figures are. Forget* ‘time spent’ *2008 will (needs to be) be the year of the committed-click ( someone who loads a multimedia/video package with intent to watch) and decent eyeball metrics (how long people are actually watching).

If you don’t get involved with your metrics then I also predict that:

Editorial will lose the capacity to produce and distribute video to ad departments

More small to medium size publishers will look at the figures and move video in two stages.

First, they will continue to move the delivery of video to the same systems they serve their ads from. This will remove the first part of the paper wall between the newsroom and commercial departments.

Secondly, the support and funding for the creation of video will fall to the commercial department as the ones who can show a cash return based on advertising. Newsrooms will have to commission the commercial department to make video.

Broadcasters will be the market educators

*I still believe that the majority of broadcasters can’t see beyond shovelware when it comes to putting content online. This puts print ahead in the value added stakes. However, broadcasters are getting very good at selling the unique value of their *‘on demand’ services. In the UK the BBCi player and 4on demand are just a few examples of how the broadcasters are using the TV platform to sell the benefits of the web. That means they are becoming the definers of web video behavior.

It won’t be long before the model of outfits like ABC in theUS with webisodes and web delivery of their big shows become the norm. If it does become the norm – and expectation of the audience – print will lose and lose badly.

Print is very bad a cross promotion. Print needs to start educating their audience to see their product as converged. Of course that means they have to have converged product.

The American elections will be a benchmark for multimedia coverage

This sounds like one of those ‘no sh***’ *predictions. But I think the elections will be the first solid, editorial running story that we have had chance to sink our teeth in to in a truly digital way. The coverage of the candidate race is already proving this. But I think that we will really see all the component parts – flash, databases, ,maps, CJ etc. – come together in a way that will be truly convergent.

This will be a medium defining moment when people realize the real power of this stuff

Web first will be the deal breaker for digital success

I’m still shocked at the resistance to web first publishing policies in many organisations. Let me make this clear – web first does not mean putting all of your content on the web before it appears in print.

It means letting people know you have the stories and leading them to your content. It means teasing, trailing, feeding stuff out as it happens. If you don’t get this your whole web policy is sunk.

And some resolutions:

I will try and be more possitive! I will comment more, I will post more (no groaning at the back) and, if you’d like to invite me I’d love to come and visit more newsrooms and talk video with people.