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2007 BRW Digital Media Leaders Forum – Part 1

March 26, 2007

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I was a media guest of IIR Conferences for this event last Friday and they had a fantastic turn out on the day. The quality of speakers and content presented was quite good, especially with the likes of Richard Kimber (Regional Managing Director of South-Asia for Google) and Ian Smith (CEO of Yahoo!7) presenting.

Last year’s Media Leaders conference in Sydney showed a lot of the old world media companies, particularly representatives of The Seven Network and Channel Ten demonstrating classic dinosaur reactions to new media by stubbornly turning their backs against it.

This year, however, showed a greater maturity of views and acceptance of the tight relationship these traditional media companies now have with new media.

I’ll layout the interesting points from some of the morning’s presenters.

Harold Mitchell of Mitchell & Partners was the keynote for the morning and his comments on the “Revolution of Digital” were echoed throughout most of the day’s presentations. Mitchell commented on the abysmal state of Broadband services in Australia and he quoted a stat that in May 2006 Australia was ranked #25 worldwide with only 46% of the Internet population in Australia on Broadband connections.

Mitchell also commented on,

  • How the local TV networks still don’t get it with the fact that you can download anything from the US before it appears on TV here.
  • 7.1 hours per day looking at media (Ray Morgan)
  • Media is now the “world of the individual” (as opposed to mass media)
  • “small is the new beautiful”
  • People can access media in any location at any time
  • MySpace, purchased for over US$500m, has supposedly already paid for itself in advertising revenue?
  • We live in the age of “digital choice” (nice J )
  • There are 3 types of digital media today
    • Push Media
    • Pull Media
    • Communication Media (examples of MySpace Facebook etc) – the audience interacting with like minded people and forming tribes. Sharing information with their peers.

Richard Kimber from Google

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Kimber’s presentation was obviously a strong draw card for many due to how quite a few seemed to vanish straight after his presentation. Unfortunately no news on the much touted Google mobile device or mobile software, but there was a good Web 2.0 101 part to the presentation as a lot of the audience were not digital media savvy, this presentation was great for laying out the massive changes from Web 1.0 to 2.0.

Kimber’s comments,

  • The Internet is no longer media, but is now a platform for delivery
  • 2006 was a major milestone for the Internet as it passed the 1 Billion users online.
  • The “Democratisation of access to information” – Kimber mentioned that whilst spending quite a bit of time in 3rd world countries he is seeing a remarkable uptake of children and young people getting access to the Internet.
  • Today it’s about access to information at any time, at any place on any device.
  • The internet is moving from the periphery to the centre of our lives
  • 86% of people research online before they purchase something
  • “Computer today is always on” versus in the past when you switched it on then waited for it to start up and then connect to the Internet. Children today are always connected.
  • Storage is getting incredibly cheaper every year, in fact we are paying per Mb tens of thousands of times cheaper than a few years before.
  • Interesting comment by Kimber is that the one major constraint to Google’s deployment of storage centres worldwide now is always power, not storage capacity.
  • Statistic that 5 years we created 5 Exabytes of data per person on the Internet. (that’s a 5 with 18 zeros after it)
  • Kimber commented on the amazing rise of the iPod and each subsequent version’s storage capacity. Kimber stated that if that storage rate continued in these hand held devices
    • by 2012 we would be able to store 1 years duration of video content
    • and by 2020 all the digital content ever created in the world! (of course he didn’t tell you that you’d probably drop dead before you copied it all across to the device…….)
  • Web 2.0 is about
    • “the great pent up demand for self expression”
    • “The community deciding what is important or not”
    • Exit the mainframe world and entering “the cloud” – cloud computing according to Google is accessing information from any device, from anywhere at any time (……wish I had a buck for everytime…..).
  • Advertising in a virtual world is becoming more mainstream. Example of Second Life where brands are interacting with people. This new form of advertising will change from not only targeting the real world you, but to incorporating the virtual world you as well.

Jack Matthews from Fairfax Digital followed Kimber, but lamented it was “pretty hard being the next presentation after the owners of the universe” J

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Matthews came out swinging in an old media bias we’ve come to know quite well.  Matthews got stuck quickly into negative commentary on how Blogs are useless and the problem is always “sorting the wheat from the chaff”…… (Obviously Matthews doesn’t know about Digg and Del.icio.us and all other great Blog ranking sites that begin with the letter "D".) His comment “people don’t want to pay for Blog content” is a bit off target considering his company operates quite a few. I guess Matthews hasn’t read The Cluetrain Manifesto…. Or then again he’s playing the devil’s advocate all to well to lead off the competition from their ever strengthening online presence.

Matthews presentation seemed to be highlight how Fairfax Digital may be wrestling with the New Media world and this made me question exactly what is a Newspaper company’s IP? Is it the news articles? or the physical newspaper? or distribution? or the actual journalists on their payroll?

Later In the morning Forrest Didier of Nielsen/NetRatings presented a barrage of interesting facts and figures about the digital consumer.

  • More Australians are spending more time online – a 35% increase since 2002.
  • A startling figure though in one of his charts showed a significant drop in “File downloading” from the Internet, attributed (according to Nielsen) to instant media access sites such as YouTube – where supposedly the user doesn’t have to download the file they stream it and view it instantly instead. I questioned this at the end of his presentation as evidence to the contrary shows there is a huge increase in peer-to-peer usage. He stated that the stats included peer-to-peer numbers.
  • 50% of broadband users in the USA have over 1Mb/s download speeds where in Australia the same speeds are only experienced by less than 2%!! (now that is a Digital Divide!)
  • Australian users are changing from “Media Beta Group” users, with passive, observer only and short viewing time attributes to “Media Alpha Group” attributes of interacting, participating and longer viewing times.
  • Australian users average sites access browsing news content
    • del.icio.us – 63.9 sites
    • Flickr – 31.2
    • Digg – 30
    • YouTube – 25.4
    • Facebook – 22
    • MySpace – 19.1
    • (As a comparison, the average online population views 17 sites in a session)
  • Whilst online access may be growing, usage is showing much shorter attention spans.

Part 2 coming soon…..

 
Posted by Shane Williamson.

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