Monday, March 27, 2006

Increasing the cost of crap

Chris DobsonI'm at the Guardian's Changing Media Summit today. This morning saw a couple of fascinating presentations, one from MSN International's head of sales and trade marketing, another from Virgin Radio's chief executive.

Chris Dobson's presentation was a revealing insight into the changing direction of Microsoft, who now foresee themselves being as much a media as a software company. They expect very large advertising revenues to fund many of their services, and have largely given up on the subscription model as a result. Worryingly from a privacy perspective, they expect to manage all of your contacts, messages, documents and other personal data from centralised servers.

Fru Hazlitt had a hilarious rant that the "old" media will not be going away any time soon; it just needs to learn lessons about connecting better with audiences. Children's entirely naturalistic use of the Internet shows the way forward.

The panel session that followed featured some gems from Jon Snow on the way that Channel 4 News is augmenting its programming with the help of "citizen journalists" (I hate that phrase). It also had Ben Hammersley warning that the Internet makes it impossible for companies and politicians any longer to sell crap, because they will be exposed in short order by user-generated content.

I think Ben has a touching faith in technology; at best, I'd say Google merely increases the cost of selling crap, and it will still be entirely profitable under many business models. As Jon Snow commented: this conference would not have sold out if the 300 attendees from the marketing and media worlds thought otherwise ;)

Now to prepare for my afternoon presentation on the joys of Digital Rights Management!

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