Welcome to the Interact Congress Blog. We have invited some leading European guest bloggers to share their observations on interactive marketing and communication skills within the integrated experience. The blog also offers you a first opportunity to interact with your peers.

For more information about the congress, please visit www.interactcongress.eu

Friday, 23 March 2007

Getting your thinking right for the Digital Networked Society

Back in 2000 I started talking about the Digital Networked Society, and with Interact coming up, it struck me that lots of firms still haven't gotten the thinking on track yet. Everyone's doing 'digital', but not enough are doing 'networked' and even fewer doing 'society'.

Here's the back story: in 2000, while the markets were crashing and depression spreading through the internet commerce community like an epidemic, you couldn’t help but realise there was something major still unfolding. It cropped up in Digital Training Academy class again this week and reminded me how easy it is to forget, so here’s a recap of the weight all three words carry: Digital Networked Society. Sure, embracing digital channels is a smart move for the business, but for the savvy marketer it's not just about being on the network, it's about being networked. And for the real smart communications teams its about engaging with that society on its own terms.

• Malleable data
• No marginal cost in data duplication
• Interoperable; crumbled barriers to data migration between systems

• Ubiquitous connectedness
• Metcalf’s law that value correlates to nodes
• Democratisation of access
• Decentralisation of conversations; activity on the edge rather than the core
• Information wants to be free

• Completeness of inclusion
• Myriad communities
• Social connectedness
• Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (society) Tönnies

So the Digital Networked Society is fundamentally different from the analogue, poorly connected world we’ve left behind. Some of this is new, but some of the elements of the Digital Networked Society are easy to trace and possible to predict. And it’s the cumulative effect of the D + N + S that creates the scale of change. Each paradigm in isolation would herald vast upheaval, but combine them and you have something seismic.

The Web 2.0 culture is a core part of this for sure, and a massive leap in making the concepts more accessible to more publishers. If you'd like to chat more then drop into some of the postings on my personal blog , join the debates at Interact 2007, and get your firm to play its own part.

Thursday, 22 March 2007

The global brain 2.0

Yesterday I went through the latest programme of Interact. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the folks at IAB asked Joël de Rosnay to open the event on the 4th of June. He will share his ideas on the impact of the participating and collaborating digital user.

The first (and last) time I met with Joël was in 1998 or 1999 (my poor memory…) when we just translated his book “L’homme symbiotique” in Dutch at Best Of Publishing (my former employer) and Joël came to Brussels to do an amazing exposé, sharing his views on the digital revolution. It seems like ages ago.

Funny enough I have been thinking a lot about Joël’s ideas lately since it seems to me that his unique holistic vision on the ‘global brain’ and the ecosystems of earth, technology and mankind, are more actual than ever. In fact, recently I was asked to share some ideas on the evolution of the net. I concluded by referring to Joël. I quote: “In his book, ‘L’homme symbiotique’, Joël De Rosnay drew an anthropologic picture of mankind in the digital era. He depicted a link between the internet and the emergence of a networked global brain. He also gave a holistic approach of the human being as a part of that network. These days, I often think about that book. Because the global brain is happening. And we are all participating in it. The opportunities of that revolution are enormous. And so are the challenges.”

I’m thrilled to hear how Joël thinks about all these evolutions today. More information on his presentation here.

It's been a long while since I read Joël' s book so please share your thoughts if you read his work/talked to him more recently.

Joël in Wikipedia.

Content is king (again)

When my friends at IAB asked me to join the conversation they would start on this blog, I thought why not use it to share some ideas on hot topics (some would say: buzzwords) in the online space, from a practical point of view. The first topic: the rebirth of King Content.

In an online context, content is the stuff we offer the visitors of our websites, blogs and online media, to get their attention, make them come back, set up a conversation, share our passions, build communities, invite people to subscribe to our online services or simply make them buy whatever we sell. It can be written content but also video, online services and so on. In a marketing context, content is the ‘what’s in it for me’ that makes the consumer listen to or simply play with us.

Maybe you remember that pre-dotcom-bubble mantra ‘Content is King’. It dates from the time that media companies wanted to create as many eyeballs as possible by offering masses of online content. But when the dotcom bubble burst, king content was one of the first to be buried: he simply was too expensive in a world where advertisers didn’t follow. And of course: mass media models didn’t turn out to be the best choice for the web.

Today, king content is back. Let me tell you why:

- Content connects: content is the starting point of every online (and offline) dialogue and thus every relationship. In the end it’s nothing but normal: humans are linguistic and emotional creatures. We can not speak, think and decide without language and images.
- Content is what makes your website or online communication stand out. This is even more so in a world wide web that is unliveable without search engines: relevant content is key to simply being found. The same goes for marketing in a fragmenting media reality: without relevant content you simply are not heard anymore.
- Content empowers: in a participative online world the user-generated content phenomenon empowers people to connect, share and create. Relevant content empowers the consumer to make unbiased decisions by comparing stuff, reading the stuff that others think and so on.
- Content sells: adapting even the smallest piece of content on your website, in your newsletter and so on can make a world of difference. What do you think works best: ending a promotion in a newsletter with ‘click here’ or with ‘click here to find out how we will offer you the holiday experience of a lifetime’?
- Content precedes community. On the web people connect. And most of the time they connect around content: whether it’s uploaded videos, online services, user-generated content or stories about the topics that passionate us: content is at the basis of online community and online word of mouth.

Agree or disagree? More reasons to add? Let me know.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Consumer Centric Marketing

Fascinating world where consumers are creating the content, where consumer are in control and where they show us brand engagement as we never have seen before...but how do we control this in terms of ethics and self-regulatory principles avoiding that our marketing practices and brands are spoiled....

Like to have your opinions on this?

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

IAB Interact Congress video announcement

Alain Heureux, President of IAB Europe and IAB Belgium, announces "Interact": the first IAB Europe Congress in Brussels on the 4th and 5th June 2007.

You can also see this movie at YouTube or Metacafe