OOe of the questions I’m getting from INMA members these days involves the prism of strategic planning. A recession just punctuated an already-fast migration to an embrace of digital technology, advertising markets remain in flux, and even basic economic projections are unreliable.

My emerging view is that 2010 will be a tepid and uneven economic recovery worldwide. That’s a fair description of what I think will happen to newspapers – with advertising categories responding differently and defying generalisations.

Yet there is a longer-term prize to keep an eye on.

What do our newspaper companies look like in markets where 100% of households are broadband-enabled, where everyone has a smartphone, and where broadband speed to PCs and mobiles are double and triple what they are today?

Seems extraordinary, but that is precisely where technology is going in the next five years in most Western European, North American, and South Pacific markets. And in markets where the digital disruption is less, consider that your high-end AB demographics will be precisely where these Western markets are.

As you plan, ask yourself the following:

  • What will happen to classified verticals with this level of saturation and this level of speed?

  • What will happen with consumer usage of media, and what will be the effects of advertising shifting to interactive marketing?

  • Where does print fit in this “digital era on steroids”?

  • What is the effect on news “cycles” when technology will intensify the need for speed for consumers and advertisers?

There’s too much talk among planners today about whether advertising will drop 10 points or grow 10 points next year. There’s too much talk of extracting money from markets in 2010.

The planning prism needs to be about broadband saturation and speed – and the effects up and down the newspaper enterprise. Take that chestnut to your next management committee meeting or board of directors meeting.