Being-Digital, Afternoon

June 12, 2008

This is the second part of my notes from Being Digital on 10th June (speakers list).

Social

Panel members: Ashley McKorkle, Loic LeMeur by video, Chris Seth of Piczo, Andrew Scott of Rummble, Ankur Shah of Techlightenment and Jerome Touze of WAYN.

Ashley McKorkle at Being-Digital

Ashley McKorkle is a Mobile Futures Analyst at Intel, and talked about their Intel Atom chip which is optimised for Mobile Internet Devices (e.g. low power video codecs). Future mobile consumption will be more contextual and more immersive. At Intel they are thinking about how to help consumers answer questions like: “What is a good kebab shop?” or “Is this a dangerous neighbourhood?”

Loic LeMeur (Seesmic) then chipped in by recorded video to answer some questions Simon Grice had posed. His view:

  • Everything is social (it’s a way of thinking about software … currently limited to geeks but will become pervasive eventually)
  • Social software is becoming more decentralised; centralised comments (e.g. on blogs) are no longer the norm … you have to get your comments on Flickr, Facebook, Friendfeed; the most important thing is the conversation
  • Twitter is a model in terms of platform … anyone can grow things on top of Twitter by using their APIs; you can build on it, as well as get the data and put it somewhere else; openness in any future platform is essential
  • We’ve only scratched the service with mobile location services; thanks to Twitter we know what our friends do but we don’t know where they are in real time (yet)
  • Another trend – to get the experience as human as possible, e.g. with video (which brings gestures and feelings) – this is an area that Seesmic is focusing on

There seemed to be a consensus among the panel that for a media business (at least) a social networking site is a destination and not just a feature. Ankur Shah suggested that users are happy for companies to have their data as long as they get something back (and the other panelists seemed to agree).

Predicted trends included (Andrew Scott) more adoption of mobile and location-based features, as well as portable social graphs; Chris Seth echoed the points on mobile and unlocking of data, and added vertical networks.

Retail

Panel: Brent Hoberman of mydeco.com, Adri Kraa of IKEA, Lisa Rodwell of moo.com, Richard Anson of Revoo and Jason Smith of shop.com.

Brent Hoberman talked about his new venture, mydeco.com, which is one of those “why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?” ideas. It allows users to create designs and share designs, and furnish their house according to a given design and budget. The home furnishing market has been highly fragmented, with the market leader having only 6% market share.

The consensus among the panel seemed to be that online retailing is threatening the high street (e.g. Dixons); the challenge for high street retailers is to build strong brands and use online to drive offline sales. Brent mentioned that with more and more user data, online shopping has the potential to get much better, while Richard Anson observed that a “buy locally” option on the web provides an opportunity for retails to engage with customers in a different way (instead of purely on the basis of price).

Search

Panel: Giles Palmer of Brandwatch, Jeff Kelisky ex-CEO of Multimap and now GM of Commercial Search at Microsoft, Kristofer Mansson of Silobreaker, Dominic Blackburn of 192.com, Ariela Freed of Jumptap, and Simon Grice.

In his presentation Giles Palmer observed that there is a continued blurring going on between ads and other info, and between PR / Search Engine Optimisation. More metadata means more connections (between, for example, people, products and locations). Kristofer Mansson pointed out that keyword search is very limited, while Jeff Kelisky talked about what Microsoft is doing with real world (3D) search. There was also a discussion on linking real world items to online, and how we do this (barcodes?); 192.com are now geocoding news stories.

Simon Grice recounted an anecdote from Loic Lemeur who was looking to hire a raccoon (Seesmic’s logo) in San Francisco. Not having had much luck through more traditional channels, Loic posted a request on Twitter and received a number of replies. So perhaps Twitter has potential as a product search engine?

Demos

After each session and throughout the day a number of companies gave a one minute pitch on their company. I mostly didn’t follow up on these, but bumped into Joe Drumgoole who I’ve met before, and he gave me a demo of the latest version of Putplace (which allows you to Secure, Backup and Organise your data online). It looks like a useful product – I like the clean interface, file versioning, and icons showing in situ which of your files have been backed up (reminds me of Subversion).

I use ZYB for synchronising my N95 address book, and thought that YouGetItBack, Liquid Data, zoomorama, u-myx, Singtones, and KiWork looked interesting.


Being-Digital, Morning Session

June 11, 2008

So it’s been a few months since my last visit to a conference. Yesterday was Being Digital, organised by Tony Fish and Simon Grice, hosted at BAFTA on Piccadilly. There were various sessions throughout the day with different speakers, panel discussions and demos. Here are my takeaways:

Advertising

being-digital Advertising PanelThe “old” model still applies, i.e. commercial reality requires eyeballs to generate a return. However, consumers are now in control as they use technology to filter incoming messages, and make personal product recommendations to each other.

Other quotes, paraphrased:

Andrew Gerrard of d-marketing

  • Large quantities of user-generated content mean that we need to filter this to identify the quality
  • Mass audiences are disappearing, and are becoming fragmented
  • Quoted from Lord Puttnam: “Technology can only ever serve as a bridge, never as a destination”

Helen Keegan

  • There is too much focus on metrics; advertising isn’t all about click-throughs
  • Good marketing begins and ends with good products; companies cannot now control what consumers say about them
  • Mobile adoption is increasing faster than computer adoption
  • The iPhone is a game changer for mobile internet advertising

Michael Bayler

  • Digital channels are currently more important as inbound channels (it is up to companies to develop a service proposition in response)
  • There are about twelve rings that you need to get through to reach the consumer (in the middle is “me” – I use technology defensively to filter marketing, followed by the “us” tribes)
  • Consumers want to tell stories about themselves

Kate Burns of DailyMotion

  • Advertisers don’t see that local advertising has critical mass
  • Media is fragmenting, and the consumer is in control
  • On the positive side, compaigns can be run with sub-10K budgets – more creativity is required (think Kate Modern)

Turlough Martin of WunderLoop

  • It’s all about giving people what they want, while balancing with privacy

Identity

For this session Wendy Grossman began by observing that your online identity can be separate from your real-world identity; it might involve your role (e.g. as a commentator in rec.tennis) or purchases you’ve made from Amazon.com. Wendy recounted an anecdote that Martina Navratilova had told during a press conference where someone was impersonating her online so she created an account and posted “She isn’t the real Martina Navratilova, I am”. Nobody believed her, but they believed Wendy who was known in that community.

Simon Willison did well to compress his usual 45 minute talk into less than 10 minutes; some key points:

  • OpenID lets you prove that you own a URL
  • Spammers have OpenIDs too, so you need to check the morality of your users
  • If you do want to put all your eggs / credentials you can go for a more heavyweight approach, such as Trustbearer OpenId which supports two-factor authentication involving a smart token or biometric device
  • OpenID 2.0 improves usability by avoiding the need for URLs
  • OpenID is decentralised

After Andy Thomas of Garlik, and Luke Razzell of iTogether, there was a discussion led by Simon Grice and the following observations were made:

  • In a show of hands, most of the audience used the same user name and password for the majority of their online accounts
  • OpenID potentially provides a mechanism for social networking sites to share data (e.g. contacts) with one another
  • Wendy wondered whether eBay could share a person’s reputation
  • SimonG: People rely on Twitter and SMS and there is no one dominant SMS provider
  • Microsoft is trying to separate different roles with Cardspace
  • SimonG: We are still bumbling along with username and password, but in 5 years time maybe it will happen
  • Andy: The solution needs to be relevant to consumers
  • SimonW: Identity is a big and vague problem; OpenID is a useful building block

Content
Will McInnes moderated a panel discussion involving Nick Brown (A2A Group), Peter Miles (sub.tv), Ave Wrigley (ITN), Joe Drumgoole (Putplace) and Ivan Pope of Sniperoo (who recorded part of the session).

Key points for me were:

Peter Miles:

  • Is content FREE (i.e. little value) or free (where someone pays eventually)?
  • Distribution has been democratised
  • Branded content is the most popular form of all advertising formats with consumers (67% found it valuable or acceptable)

Joe:

  • Content value can come from timeliness
  • People pay for convenience (that’s why we use iTunes) but they won’t pay for the same content over and over in different formats

Ivan:

  • People managed just fine before Hollywood, and are actually easily entertained
  • Content implies that it lives in a container; what are we filling? (Previously this was media-controlled channels.)
  • Predicts that in 20 years time there will be no more Hollywood blockbuster; people will remake their view of the world with fragments

In summary, Will McInnes predicts that 50% of big media companies will go bust. The future is in platforms for user-generated content. Content discovery is still a big problem – we need something like last.tv (last.fm are already working on this).

Location

Moderated by Andrew Gill, the location panel included Tim Warr of Multimap Microsoft, Richard Varham of Locomatrix, Judy Gibbons of Accel and Rob Hinchcliffe.

I didn’t take many notes from this session as I was too busy listening, except to note Tim Warr’s comment that we haven’t got the interface right yet for location-based (mobile) apps.