I have a plan, a vision; one where everything is based around me and works for me, one where I am at the centre. Or do I? ‘No man is an Island’ so they say. I tried to be different and grow my hair and paint my face to stand out from the crowd then I sought others who shared my views, my music tastes, my fears and joys. My dad was right; I was just wearing a very elaborate uniform. Today I hook up with those friends via Facebook.

Convergence is the new buzzword. It’s at the heart of web 3.0 – the next incarnation beyond social media.

  • Web 1.0 – Content
  • Web 2.0 – Conversation
  • Web 3.0 – Convergence

But it makes me ask what the common theme here is for me as a ‘Consumer’? Is it indeed just all a great big ‘Con’?

Convergence of content is only one face of the coin; the other is the plethora of diverging devices and distribution channels that makes my life even more complicated.

The answer has got to be in relevance to me and ease of use and to a certain degree spoon-fed consumption. After all, most of the time I use YouTube, I am not actively searching, but responding to friends who recommend me to watch something. Are they really acting any different to a Programme Scheduler with the power of suggestion? Perhaps TV will not die after all.

Content costs money. Production, distribution and the strategic analysis of how to improve the entire process next time, is painfully expensive in itself. Taking old media trends, ideas and commercial opportunities and sticking them online will fail. We have been there and done it. Amazon proved cross-channel from search to web means every page is a potential homepage – and all without Flash-y intros aimed at linear people typing in a URL. Channels dictating to me how and when to consume media will also fail, for the large part. You can not dictate that Coronation Street should carry adverts, whilst Eastenders should not. I want to make that choice. Me, as a consumer and end recipient, will decide the value of each property, and I will change my mind continually.

Armed with choice I will seek an alternative. Technology allows me to do so, at least in part.

But one thing I know is that without commercial business models in place, nothing is possible. Whether that is a brand letting go of dictatorial design and marketing methods to their audience, whilst finding a way to still maintain their brand’s core values, is a challenge for creative and media people alike. Radiohead may well give their album away online, but someone still needs to pay for the album production let alone their lifestyles.

And so ultimately someone needs to pay. Welcome to the world of advertising.

As we move form information to entertainment, is the future of Web TV going to be in every 15 minutes I am subjected to 3 minutes of video ads? Will those ads be interactive? Will they be dynamic and relevant to me? Will the ads be subliminal and intrinsic to the content themselves in the same way an FMCG client used Soap Opera’s to develop branded content for radio then TV? Will I be able to pause content and engage with the advertiser somehow? Will that interaction with the advertising spurn new content recommendation and choice? What are the implications? How will consumers respond? Will I have one portable device that locks into a personal media server and NAS whereby I can continue my media consumption irrespective of where I find myself in the world, and will those adverts, in what ever shape they end up, both facilitate my content as well as be personal to ‘me’ even if I am using my mobile in the middle of Kathmandu?

And actually how will I choose to interact? When you consider (with the exception of singing birthday cards) every other traditional media channel engages only one or two senses simultaneously – digital enables three; sight, sound AND touch. The more I get involved, the more I remember, and for the advertiser that brand recall is crucial. But I can also speak. I can tell them things they may not want to hear. This extra activity is going to be a challenge for most advertisers to make ‘sense’ of and handle appropriately. They will feel pain.

I want to become a Master of Digital Advertising.

Not He-Man, Master of the Universe and Saviour of the Web; but to merely lead thought process in how to deliver commercial models that facilitate and generate content production and distribution cross-channel, whilst embracing consumer interplay. Methods, strategies, analysis – to look at business opportunities that will enable the wider media and creative community to carry on knowing someone, somewhere is still prepared to pay their salaries, take risks with them and to increase their bonus when they do get it right. And how will that be justified? Well it won’t be measured by clicks – but by conversions; and that only happens by harnessing user convenience and control whilst assuring confidence. With an industry built up around clicks, it’s about time we become a lot more controversial! People who get understand this can rightfully be known as the real ‘con’ artists of the future and will dictate the ultimate creative and media process.

We need to put ourselves back in the picture and think about the ‘me’ rather then the ‘them’ – and that means an honest appraisal of the user experience, the users right to choose, whilst at the same time vigorously respecting the users right for personal privacy. It is in gaining trust that we will deliver the real results.

What can I say – the dotcom crash hit me hard. I had to fight to pay my mortgage for a while until I re-adjusted my entire thinking that the web would not replace everything else, but find a natural symbiosis with the world in which it was to become a part of, eventually coursing through the veins of every other media channel as they become digitally enabled. I had to become commercial as well as creative and now as we enter the next phase, I want to become creative in the way I am commercial.

Like I said, it IS all about the ‘me’.

This time it is personal…