McAdams On: Industry Forecasting

Market research always indicates there are billions and billions of dollars... down the road. Just exactly where is this wealth supposed to come from? On any given day, a dozen or so press releases about segment revenue projections are floated.

Online video ad revenues will supposedly grow 13-fold in two years to $1.5 billion. TV Web sites will supposedly generate $1.3 billion this year, up 80 percent in two years. TV stations will generate $18.5 billion overall next year. Integrated circuits will make $233 billion. The iPhone will restore liquidity to the U.S. economy.

Clearly, projections are based on methodologies comprising historical performance and extenuating factors. But they’re delivered like so much scattershot, and the specific elements considered often are unclear. There are a lot of things that consider themselves “broadcasting” and “TV” these days, that have nothing to do with “broadcasting” and “TV.” I get a lot of calls from people to whom I have to explain that “broadcasting” does not include the bevy of streamers with Web “channels.”

I wish now that I’d kept each and every piece of market research blown at me over the last 12 years, so I could make some sort of comparison to how things actually turned out. Assuming all the same components are factored in. I’d love to get a hefty grant to do market research on market research. I just read about a project at Cleveland State University where researchers “assessed the physical traits of 195 female characters from the first 20 James Bond films, revealing that more were brunette than blond and that at least 90 percent were young, slim and of above-average looks.” (Chuck Shepherd picked it up from the Daily Telegraph, so obviously its rock solid.)

Here’s what a bit of my own research yielded: Since December 2007 and last month, the country lost 6.7 million jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More than 5 million people have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks--what the BLM considers “long term.” Average weekly earnings of those left standing was $614.34. After taxes, social security and Medicare, there’s about $400 left. Subtracting insurance premiums leaves you with $16 and change.

So again. Just where is all this wealth going to come from? There’s only so much to suck out of the newspaper and pulp industries. I just want to know, so I can get a piece of it for my next research project on research, and the physical traits of researchers.