What if you walked into an internet conference and instead ended up on the set of World War Z dodging zombies and feeling the world you've known slip away forever? OK, so that's maybe just a little over the top. But based on a whole spate of recent trade articles and projections, the end of days is nigh for desktop-based ad businesses, and those still stubbornly clutching their impressions and page views will be left behind on the day of mobile rapture. Probably.
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The folks at eMarketer tell us that, aside from video and sponsorships, desktop ad spending will peak in 2014. Yikes! On Digiday, Giselle Abramovich is in the middle of a four-part series on how publishers will cope with the post desktop era, while the aptly named Sam Slaughter of Contently tells us without hesitation that The Pageview is Dead. Shit. That's it! I'm getting back under the covers.
So what to think of all this doom-saying and tooth-gnashing? It kind of depends on where you sit and what kind of future you've prepared for. As I wrote just two weeks ago in The Drift, counting on the page-driven structure and navigation of the desktop ad business to continue unabated is simply living in denial. One has to be a little thick or legally blind not to see the how quickly phone- and tablet-based computing are taking over the world. To me, these are the central questions:
- Will the exchange/programmatic/trading desk "ad industrial complex" pivot fast enough to stay relevant in a world that cares less and less about the glut of web banners? Will they stay too long with the same hand?
- Will we glibly assume that the same programmatic answers apply to the new physics and protocols of mobile? Will we simply start appending "exchange" and "RTB" to terms like Mobile and Tablet?
- How will content-driven media companies adapt to Desktopocalypse? Will they start quickly waking away from the broken page view/impression models? Will they bet the ranch on native solutions?
- Will video focused businesses circle the wagons and act to create scarcity around their product? Or will the same market forces ultimately commoditize video?