I've been slow to post a few of my own bylines here, in part due to the reason referenced below -- the newest addition to my family. As I take a bit of time for paternity leave, I'll also be catching up and sharing some things I've meant to post. This post was originally published in Ad Age in April, and undoubtedly reads better there thnks to their editing. My slightly rougher version is below.
How to Digitally Prepare a New Brand for 2026
By David Berkowitz
Which types of digital media will matter in 2026?
I wound up in some spirited conversations about this topic with my wife after we welcomed our firstborn in February. It was only once our daughter was born, and we were fully committed to her name, that we started to discuss which digital identities we would reserve for her.
The focus of our conversations quickly shifted to 2026. That’s when our daughter will turn 12. She will be legally able to sign up for a lot of media properties and digital services herself. By then, she’ll also be well past the age where she’ll have strong opinions on which media properties matter to her.
To illustrate one family’s attempt at forecasting what will matter more than a decade from now, here’s how the conversation netted out:
Email: The only email service we considered for our daughter was Gmail, based on our own personal preferences. My wife started to register a new address for our baby, as we tried several combinations of our daughter’s first, middle, and last names. After we decided on one, my wife entered our daughter’s birthday in the registration form. Google advised that the service was only meant for people over age 12, and we paused.
It wasn’t that we cared about the age limit. Just last year, I helped my niece add a couple years to her age to get a Skype account. Rather, it made wonder why we were doing it at all. We weren’t going to send emails from our daughter to us or others; it felt odd creating some persona for this little person who was already developing her own personality. While I’d wager that Google will still be around for more than a decade, and email will exist in some form, I trust that my daughter will be okay with coming up with an address that suits her.
Social networks: Twitter seemed like the most logical social network when considering reserving a handle for a dozen years from now. Perhaps its most important asset is its deep integration with live television – another form of media that should soldier on. Twitter is also relatively unusual in that handles still matter. On Facebook, LinkedIn, and elsewhere, people are known by their real names, but on Twitter, you are your username (at least for now).
For my daughter, it’s possible to squat on a handle and do little with it until she decides to own it. Yet even if Twitter is still around in a decade, will she use it? Maybe by 2026, teens will think Twitter has some retro cachet. Or maybe Twitter will just be a boring news aggregator that some of their parents and grandparents use. If Twitter does have that kind of longevity, my daughter may not need her handle for 20 or 30 years, and by then, she can pick her own name. For a different approach, there are some parents who tweet on behalf of their children, but I can’t imagine putting in the effort that my former colleague Matt Wurst does for @LilWurst.
Websites: Even people who have never registered a URL have been asking me if I’ve reserved domain names for my daughter. This one seemed like a no brainer at first. A domain is an open book. She can ultimately do what she wants with it, and there may always be a little extra cachet to a memorable .com domain.
Unlike email addresses or social handles, however, domain names cost money, and so many domain names sit idle. My daughter won’t need her own domain if she wants to blog, run a Tumblr, contribute to Medium, post an about.me bio, or participate in whatever such services are popular in the years to come. And I’m not convinced that domains will be the default taxonomy of the web going forward. Ultimately, my wife and I settled on a compromise: we’d reserve one .com with her full name and a .me with just her first name, and hold it for three years. In 2017, we can revisit the decision.
That’s how rattled I am about how fast media is changing. Nothing should be taken for granted. Some form of email will prevail indefinitely, and that may look more like Gmail, Facebook messaging, WeChat, or something we haven’t encountered yet. Facebook has lasted one decade, but that doesn’t mean it will last two. For many brands and people, domain names are far less important than their social identities.
Let’s revisit this in 2026 and see how prescient these decisions were. I have no doubt my daughter will have opinions on this long before her twelfth birthday, and she’ll tell me exactly what she thinks of my decisions.