Friday, 16 March 2007

The Last Post?

As I attend MBS today to present with my blog colleagues the content and strategy of our blog, I started to reflect upon what I have learned from the blog and MIS experience.

Certainly from a work view, I now have a clear insight into the potential of scenario planning and the potential for information systems to completely disrupt standard and coventional ways of working.

In fact when I really think about it, the sector I work in is currently a veritable mass of disruptive technologies, which appear to be being resisted in a some what luddite manner.

Why? I guess there is no one size fits all answer. It could be because the new technology is seen as a threat or that it is being imposed upon the system, rather than chosen by the system. Or, it could be, that deep down the majority of us, if we are really truthful, and in true Geoffrey Moore anology, border on being late adopters and laggard.

My view (for what it is worth) - is that as long as we have a span of individuals from innovators to laggards, being in the late adopter category is not that bad, as by the time the technology is accepted and begun to be adopted by this group, the bugs and glitches have usually been ironed out. Hands up who bought a betamax and wish they had waited a bit longer?

Yesterday whilst listening to radio four (I have a theory that you know you are reaching middle age when you listen to radio 4, by choice, and you own a Tesco carrier bag for life), I heard an interesting article about Whitehaven being the first town in the UK, to have the TV analogue signal switched off and digital turned on, in October 2007.

What staggered me from the article, was the number of people who either did not know about it or, thought if they resisted the requirement to buy the new technology required, somehow, the 'state' would take responsibility for them and still broadcast analogue, just for them. Why do people think this? Is it becuase the communication has not been very good or simply, that they are laggards and late adopter and will not adopt the disruptive technology of digital, until they are forced to. All you entrepeneurs out there - get a shop in Whitehaven and stock up with free view boxes - you dcould make a killing.

I think it is a combination of both, but that the communication (or lack of it) maybe somewhat to blame for the current state of inertia and denial.

Anyway back to the subject in hand - thanks to everybody who has for reading our blog and posting comments - we really appreciate your time and effort and it has been fun and enlightening communicating with you in this way.

Take care out there and remember the future is bright (we hope)


PS - Still don't understand second life and the money exchange bit - can anyone enlighten me?

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Is The Internet Punching Below Its Weight In Media Value?

There has been and continues to be a huge shift in the media landscape. Just look at the volume of media options available to us – Radio, TV, Magazines, Newspapers, Internet, etc. Not only are there more options open to us today within each option there has been an explosion of channels. I remember the days of only having 3 Television channels (BBC1, BBC2 & ITV), and they did not broadcast all night. This is well before Sky / Digital TV entered the market and flooded us with channels reaching out to niche groups of people with targeted channel programming.

TV is not the only area, what was once a habitual process of buying the local regional newspaper has now been replaced with multiple copies of regional / local newspapers either delivered to your home or free to pick up on your way to work. It doesn’t stop here, walk into a supermarket or newsagent and you will see multiple examples of consumer magazines tailored to any hobby / interest imaginable, with launches and closures occurring on a monthly basis. All this before we even mention the Internet. Consumer usage/time is not the only change to the media upheaval; businesses also play a huge part.

The battleground is basically on 2 fronts, the first being “eyeballs” or consumers and the second is advertising spend. If you can deliver the first should you be entitled to a decent share of the second? Logic tells me the money will follow the audience.
The interesting observation however is how the media explosion is dissecting the size of audience to each channel and the time spent viewing. The Association of Online Publishers are arguing that this has led to an end to targeted mass marketing

Traditional media are currently leading the way in terms of their share of the £18.96 billion in advertising spend in the UK, the biggest being press (National & Regional Newspapers, Magazines and Directories) with 45% of all revenue and TV second with 25%. There is, however, a clear warning that things need to change for them to maintain this moving forward. The current share of ad revenue is disproportionate to the share of media consumption ie time people spend interacting with that media. My feeling is that this balance will be addressed, and has in fact started. As time passes and technology changes there are massive implications for what were traditional media companies. The under 25’s today have a very different pattern of media consumption to that of the older generation (as highlighted by KPMG) and as a result need different communication and interaction

The technological advances are also now offering advertisers new, more cost effective, better ways to reach their potential customers. A prime example is the shift of classified advertising from newspapers to internet sites. Large lists of items / jobs / properties / cars are not the most interesting of reads. When you are looking for something specific it takes time to trawl the columns within newspapers and magazines to find what you want. The internet allows you to interact, search and filter information much quicker and now from multiple sources. It is free and the presentation of a car ad for example with large multiple images (possibly even video) and expansive descriptions is a giant step from a black and white lineage ad on newsprint. With audience and advertisers taking advantage of what the Internet has to offer it is no surprise that spend and time is transitioning online. The internet now takes a 7.8% share of advertising spend and is showing growth of 65.6% year on year on what otherwise is a declining market (IAB 2006).

Is TV next in line for attack? Viewing figures / time spent watching what were the traditional TV channels are falling, and advertisers are finding it harder to get response. Internet based technology is evolving with video streaming common place, the growth in usage is resulting in sites generating huge audiences, improved connectivity and performance is enabling faster transfer of larger amounts of data. Website operators can claim unheard of targeting for advertisers with new pay per response charging models. The move is towards tailored “one to one” marketing with minimum waste. Can ROI for advertising finally be calculated accurately?

Google, amongst others, are taking advantage of this by delivering video ad clips across websites in its adsense network. Google and the content partners sell the ads and revenue is then shared. Companies like Conde Nast and Sony BMG Music Entertainment being early adopters in the market. Search based targeted advertising is not a thing for the future as it is currently being tested.

Where does the future lie? Google have had huge success in generating content and viewers through Youtube but Media owners are fighting back by speeding up their investment in their own web offering and they believe Google/YouTube should pay for the privilege of using their copyrighted content. Viacom's suit demands the removal of 100,000 unauthorized clips so will restricting licensed programs on Youtube work? Google boss Eric Schmidt unsurprisingly thinks not. Media companies must take a step into the online video delivery arena, The Telegraph are doing this with their Online TV Business News and the BBC are linking with Youtube to deliver their proposition. It is not clear to what extent time viewing online will continue to transition nor the ad money that goes with it. We can be sure TV will be affected in some way and as a result expect to see some radical changes being introduced by traditional media companies in a bid to position themselves to protect and fight for a healthy share of adspend in the future. Whether they do this alone or in partnership with a Youtube type operation remains to be seen.

Does it stop at TV? What is next for targeted advertising? Technology is impacting in all areas of society in terms of advertising space and messaging. Football billboards are no longer static posters, they are much more dynamic enabling timed messages such as betting odds for the next goal. Bus shelters have been enabled with SMS messaging and the next generation of Hi Definition TV screens with Bluetooth technology used to showcase ads outdoors are now available. The key for advertisers is to get consumers to interact with them as this is much stronger than bombarding consumers with messages. Consumers interact with what is designed to be personal advertising by downloading clips or reminders as they pass by. This interaction is then measurable. The opportunities are endless as technology advances campaigns can become highly targeted. Take tube advertising in London and poster sites up the escalators at stations. These can be brought to life and be used to target different consumers based on time of day. McDonalds breakfast on the way to work for example or commuter times and routes can hit the business traveller compared to mid morning tourist focused messaging around the lines used to visit popular destinations.

Technology is changing, media consumption is changing the question is which businesses will be able to change stay in touch?

Sunday, 11 March 2007

On line petitions and blogging - the silent revolution

I am absolutely amazed! Not just because I have found out that there is an actual exam grade of X - just below unclassified I think - but because our group blog is contributing to a massive social movement to change 'unfair' legislation through the use of on line petitions.

To bring any new visitors to this blog up to speed - I am currently studying for an MBA and as one of the modules - MIS - have set up with four colleagues a group blog.

One of the very first posts to the blog related to social computing and on line petitions and as a result of the blog being read, a reader set up an on line petition - to protest about the imposition of a 10MPH speed limit on Lake Winderemere, in Cumbria, almost two years ago.

I don't intend in this blog to start a debate about the rights and wrongs of this decision as there are a whole host of other blogs and sites which do this much more eloquently - but I will declare an interest in the debate by stating I am anti the 10MPH speed limit.

This particular blog is all about the power of IT. What has amazed me is the level of response to the petition - 1,142 in about three weeks and articles in the local press and other blogs, all this without the person who set up the petition, ever raising a Parker pen in anger or knocking on any door or ultimately commissioning the battle bus to Downing Street.

What do you think? Do on line petitions make people lazy and possibly petition for issues about which they are not really passionate or do they allow individuals to express their opinion on whatever remotely bothers them?

Me - I don't know - but what I do know is that I am beginning to see that the future could be bright - and that this bright future could be delivered and enhanced through the intelligent and possibly regulated use of the information systems available, which span continents and cultures.

Speak Soon JJB - on the journey from luddite to early adopter?

PS Still don't understand the currency bits on SL and how you can make money - can anybody tell me?

Monday, 5 March 2007

Is There A Point To Second Life?

I am not a “Second Lifer” if that is what you call people who divulge, and to be honest I do not really see what the attraction is. Firstly for those who don’t know what it is there is a detailed definition on Wikipedia, in simple terms it is a virtual world on the internet where you can interact with others as whoever you want to be.

I have been thinking about why people would actively take part in Second Life, and as of February 2007 there were 4 million people that do. Understanding that people may be going there to get away from it all, being someone else, leaving your life or troubles behind and linking up with like type people could be plausible reasons. When you then learn that people do this full time, and there is a currency in this “world” I can not really comprehend what the appeal is. Does Second Life not just encourage people to lie about who or what they are? Is it safe to be let loose in a world like this, especially for the young and vulnerable?

Second Life clearly has hit a chord with millions and it has even reached the business world as there are companies and brands entering into this world. I was astonished when I heard that there was a contest running to set up a business plan in the virtual world. I really have to question what is the point of investing a company’s time and money to this venture? If you are interested the winner was a company called Market Truths. What I found interesting was that the main reason that they won was because they have real life experience of carrying out market research for years. Surely Market Truth are only treating this as a PR opportunity which they can use in real life, what other benefit can they be getting from this? The aim is to carry out research on the “people” in Second Life but what is the point? The results will be meaningless as sample segmentation will be ridiculous. How can you make decisions based on research that is captured through surveys of people using real life gender, in world gender, real world age, in world age, race, size etc etc.. But the most fundamental question is how can you trust the responses form a world where lies are common place?

This has not stopped companies like Toyota, General Motors and American Apparel from entering but they really can’t be seriously treating this as strategic marketing activity. Vodafone are one of the latest companies to talk about opening a store in Second Life, but are they doing this with a hope of creating revenue in the virtual world or trying to connect to people that they hope will find an affinity with them in the real world. I would suggest it will be the latter as I find it very difficult to believe real money can be made, for businesses, in Second Life.

As I said at the start I have not ventured in, and I doubt I will in the future. I have however watched an hour long presentation showing a glimpse inside Second Life delivered by Philip Rosedale & Cory Ondrejka. If you want to see it take a look.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on Second Life whether it be from an individual or business usage perspective.