Changing Media – Guardian conference
Interesting conference yesterday hosted by the Guardian on the changing media environment – emergance of 'social media', citizen journalists, podcasts and the impact of all of this on traditional media owners.
First keynote by Microsoft's Chris Dobson was very meh! – not much new or interesting and just proved that the real innovation currently lies elsewhere (waiting to be bought out no doubt!). The emphasis on relevance was a useful reminder but not much else.
The 2nd panel was more interesting – Citizen Media – what is the impact of user-generated content on the traditional business model?
I thoroughly enjoyed Jon Snow on this – the issue with citizen media is not the quality but how to process it all. JS rightly pointed out that there must be many editors looking at the best of citizen journalism and thinking that it is better than much 'professional' content. The impact will be to make professional journalists better. Quality will out, as they say.
JS also questioned whether rather than seeing the death of traditional media we are seeing the death of hack merchants – lazy journalists, spin doctors and bad PR people – all of whom will get found out more easily. Transparency will be the norm when it is easy for information to flow. We now have a mechanism of comeback where previously information holders could act with impunity.
I think Ben Hammersley was right when arguing that the way to avoid getting slammed in the new environment was to 'make better products' – but how broadly applicable that is I don't know and there is a dangerous line between defining a bad product and a product that doesn't do what a small coterie of self-opinionated loadmouths want it to do. I do think organisations will be held more accountable for quality – Universities included! – but we need to be careful of the 'who shouts loudest rules the roost' syndrome and organisations are going to have to learn how to manage this new relationship very quickly.
I completely agree with BH when he says "you can't advertise your way out of a shit product/situation".
Much of the conference reinforced the power of Word Of Mouth and the key influence of peer groups – not new but some interesting discussion about how you can (or more likely cannot) utilise these social networks to generate competative advantage. Some very interesting case studies of how organisations are using social networks – Proctor and Gamble's Tremor service was particularly interesting – link – they have built a massive teen network to test ideas, monitor campaigns and create advocacy:
Today, the Tremor Crew is made up of over a quarter of a million influential teens from across the U.S. Our Members help develop product ideas and marketing programs that teens want to talk about. So far, we've executed breakthrough campaigns for many P&G brands and several external clients as well.
And this is explicitly stated – it's a brilliant example of engaging your customers with your business model and giving them a key stake in the future of the organisation and its product development.
The session on Marketing to the New Generation was fascinating – Justin Kirby put pretty simply:
Customer advocacy drives business growth – consumer empowerment drives customer advocacy.
The 'I did that' effect is a powerful one.
The podcasting session was interesting – especially watching James Cridland of Virgin Radio get more excited and daring after Adam Curry said 'Fuck' – I think James was trying to out-swear Curry – oops!
Adam Curry is an interesting speaker and has some pretty smart ideas about consumer generated media:
I have a 5/50 rule – in 5 years, 50% of your media consumption will be generated by you
That's an interesting statement. I think he may be right about 50% being generated by the consumer but it will be interesting to see who is doing the distribution – will the BBC become the largest distributer of consumer generated content? See the Guardian commentisfree site for an example of how traditional and consumer content can work together.
The other interesting issue that came out of this session was whether it actually matters who distributes something. Does it matter that I get virgin radio content via virgin? Is it the channel or the content on it that is the brand? If I access all my BBC content via iTunes, what does that mean for the BBC brand? No answers as yet, but something to consider.
The closing keynote from Tamar Kasriel was excellent – she posed 7 paradoxes about the emerging media environment:
Time Lords vs Time Slaves – the tyranny of immediacy
Infinite information vs Craving for simplicity
Closer to brands vs distanced from brands (the discussion on co-creation of brands needs more discussion at a later point)
Copernican Media Revolution vs Commerical Redistribution
Expanding World vs Shrinking world
Geography is history vs Local is revitalised
Enhancing Human touch vs eliminating human touch
As a final note – I heard more swearing from speakers at this conference than at any other – I like that.