It’s a different world out there

Yesterday I attended a conference Marketing in a Digital World organised by i20events. I was asked to talk about the ‘empowered consumer’ and the embracing thereof.

I really liked the venue, in London’s Natural History Museum and its scheduling – the event was later in the afternoon (4pm). This is good as one’s attention does not have to be abused sustained all day for a number of interminable sessions. The audience consisted of people in the UK “new media marketplace” and the panel had speakers respected in the industry.

Faith Carthey, MD, i-level
Rob Horler, MD, Diffiniti
Janet Winslade, Managing Partner, M-One
Glen Drury, MD, Kelkoo UK
Dan Clays, MD, Quantum
James Hamlin, Media Director,
Anthony Rhind, SVP of Strategy, Media Contacts

The moderator was none other than the entrepreneur and blogger, Andrew Carton, of Predictably, I talked about blogs, while trying to explain that they are the tip of the iceberg, a symptom of broader trends that are emerging from the online world and have so far largly passed under the traditional radars.

There were a few points that made it clear to me just what a different world it is. For example, someone complained that there is too much information online these days and one does not know where to start. Now to me, this sounds like the surreal dialogue from Amadeus:

EMPEROR: My dear, young man, don’t take it too hard. Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Cut a few and it will be perfect.

MOZART: Which few did you have in mind, Majesty?

There is indeed a glut of information and I speak as a blogger with about 200+ feeds in my aggregator… But that is a good thing as it drives home the point that you can no longer control the message or its distribution. As for knowing where to start, there are so many ways to monitor the blogosphere or the internet and find out what’s happening as new tools appear almost weekly (or so it seems).

Another thing that struck me was that the overriding attitude towards online and the ‘empowered consumer’ was one of caution, fear of ‘fat lawsuits arriving’ as ‘big corporations are going to fight back’ and recognition that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE ABOUT IT (the ‘empowered consumer’ not the law suits). I did not get any sense of what that something is other than continuation of slicing and dicing, counting the legs and dividing by four, bringing in the sheep to use the Cluetrain vernacular.

Kudos to the organisers for letting me speak about the online ‘underworld’ and the impact it will have (and already is having) on the marketing industry. I highly recommend reading and listening to Bob Garfield’s Chaos Scenario for a fuller picture of what people like us and their friends have been banging on about in the UK.