For two decades, we’ve identified trends for the upcoming year to help us advise our clients on topics that could be significant so they can discuss perspectives that keep them relevant. As each year draws to a close, we evaluate how we did on our predictions. We think providing accountability is helpful. Did we get the trends right? Did we miss a key trend? (Sometimes we’ve identified trends before they actually hit or some trends never take off.) Our goal is to try to learn from what we got right as much as well as what we got wrong.
The big trend we identified for 2023 was AI, and we’re proud that we were right that it would be the biggest trend.
Here’s the recap of the agency’s top predictions for 2023:
- AI-app ChatGPT will be a hit while Lensa AI will pale in comparison. While we were correct to pick ChatGPT as a game-changer overall, we could have put more emphasis on the broader generative artificial intelligence sector. That said, we did predict that Lensa AI would not have the same kind of significance and at the time, Lensa AI was the Apple Store’s most popular app. We’ll have more to say about generative AI in our predictions for 2024 but all of it will be written by humans. Grade: A+
- Twitter and TikTok will survive amid much speculation. We were right about both but did not anticipate that Twitter’s threat was coming from inside the house, with its rebranding to X. The value of X (which sounds like the start of a math problem) dropped 55% from $44 billion in 2022 to $19 billion in Oct. 30, 2023. Advertisers and users have fled but there’s user engagement, a lot of it much more heated. One of the problems facing X is misinformation (unintended inaccurate info), disinformation (intended inaccurate info), and hate that’s been surging on the platform. Grade: A
- Section 230 should survive but may not. At the start of 2023, the fate of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which allows social media sites to conduct content moderation while shielding them from legal liability for user-generated content, was under attack, both in Congress and two cases heard by the Supreme Court. As it turns out, SCOTUS declined to make a ruling about Section 230, which lives on, unchanged. We thought Section 230 provisions may change so we got that part wrong but it did generate coverage in the first half of the year. Grade: B
- Despite the spectacular collapse of FTX, crypto and bitcoin will continue to capture the media’s attention. This was accurate. We evaluated coverage in the print versions of the top national business publications, and each issue contained one or more crypto articles. Grade: A
- The country’s electric grid is not yet prepared to support the shift to electric cars. This prediction covered a lot of ground: consumer interest in electric vehicles (EVs), the availability of charging stations (not enough of them), and the country’s aging infrastructure that has trouble keeping up with current demand. The media covered all three aspects. Grade: A
- We’ve reached “peak newsletter.” We said “we may be oversaturated with newsletters” and that subscription “newsletters were not the solution to the media’s business model problem because good journalism is expensive to produce.” We do feel overwhelmed by the numbers of interesting available newsletters but don’t have time to read them all. But this did not get as much media attention as we thought. Grade: B-
- The U.S.’s efforts to rebuild its semiconductor industry will be difficult. We were right about this but it did not get as much media attention as we expected. Grade: C
- The ad slump will hurt media and social media. Unfortunately, we saw more journalism layoffs all year, including most recently at Condé Nast and online-only Jezebel. Both were victims of their business model. We don’t know if the writers’ and the actors’ now-settled strikes had anything to do with it but it couldn’t have helped that, under picket-line rules, actors and actresses couldn’t promote their movies or TV shows. Grade: A
- The transformation of the workweek, offices, and downtowns will continue. The media certainly covered these topics this year, and we expect that to continue in 2024. Grade: A
- Web3 will gain momentum but won’t be a top trend this year. We think we got this right. We expect Web3 was overshadowed by generative AI but might be a bigger story next year, at least than it was this year – a caveat because we feel that generative AI will continue to be a top issue in 2024. Grade: A
Cumulatively, we scored a 3.57, which is between a B+/A-, which makes for a pretty good report card.
We are working on our set of predictions for 2024.