Being-Digital, Morning Session

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:


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


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 or purchases you’ve made from 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

Will McInnes moderated a panel discussion involving Nick Brown (A2A Group), Peter Miles (, 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)


  • 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


  • 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 ( are already working on this).


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.


One Response to Being-Digital, Morning Session

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