Monday, 10 March 2008

What is the point of digital

I sometimes feel I have become un-naturally bias towards advertising and the role of digital in particular. Clearly this could be seen as a good thing, I should be excited by the work I do but I am willing to concede that it may also sometimes come across as a horrible result of industry propoganda! Even so I can't help but fall for the argument and this now means that I have a well rehearsed response to the inevitable question...

"What is the point of digital"

The Internet is not just another "media", as the Old Media insists, but mostly I think a "space", similar to the American Continent immediately after it was discovered – anything that can be found on the Web has a physical presence. It occupies real estate. To encounter a logo, a picture or an animation on the Internet is a totally different experience than to find the same stuff in a magazine or on the television. "Things" in the Internet exist in a specific location, while in magazines and on TV contents are mostly cold, passive, bullets of information. Online they constitute a body: they are parts of a new genre. They are Web Entities.

The digital world is all about experiencing things, engaging with something because it's entertaining or fulfilling or useful or all three and more. Whilst there are of course drawbacks to this argument, some sites are simply too old or cumbersome to have any impact, web 2.0 and onwards will see a huge change in how people use the net, in a way that no other media can.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Viral Trends

Duncan Watts recently wrote “If society is ready to embrace a trend, almost anyone can start one–and if it isn’t, then almost no one can”

Essentially his theory is, that to succeed with a new product, it’s less a matter of finding the perfect hipster to infect and more a matter of gauging the public’s mood. There will always be a first mover in a trend, but since they generally stumble into that role by chance, they are basically an “accidental Influential.”

The difficulty in viral trends is that the online world can be incredibly volatile. Brands are desperately seeking to find a comfortable transparency with which to embrace their customers and yet retain some control of the message. Online PR groups try to start trends or opinion by involving key influencers to kick start further discussion, but this can't work every time.

So perhaps the disease metaphor is misleading. 

Trends are more like forest fires: There are thousands a year, but only a few become roaring monsters. That’s because in those rare situations, the landscape was ripe: sparse rain, dry woods, badly equipped fire departments. If these conditions exist, any old match will do.