NMBX Wrap Up

So, two days are drawing to a close here at NMBX. It has been great getting to know more about the huge spread of Turner Group properties (from [Adult Swim] to Cartoon Network to CNN

Bob Schukai wrapped up accompanied by many photos of famous people that allegedly look like him (my favourite was Adam Sandler). How that man finds the energy to always be so darned enthusiastic is still beyond me.

Brad Rees from MediaCells gave us a huge range of numbers to think on as we leave the event. He sold us on the closing session by promising numbers that we can use in our media business and giving us a sneak peak of a digital roadmap for 2009. It is certainly a brave forecaster who dares to go back and show us how accurate their previous forecasts are by comparing the to the real outcome with the benefit of hindsight. Being within 7% of a forecast is pretty good.

My takeaways are that the future of media is going to get more complex, not less; larger, not smaller; more visual, less text; and that the big investment houses are going to continue to get it all horribly wrong and invest in the wrong areas far too late.

IPTV continues to surprise me. Despite the lack of a specific hardware device in most markets (“one box, plug it in, it works” is the kind of thing I mean here) it has grown from 6m to 13m users in just one year 2007 to 2008. That is going to be driving some demand for video content over the next few years, and it is clear that simply repurposing existing content simply is not going to fulfil that demand.

I remain an HDTV luddite. Lack of content and the huge demands on cash and on living room space have been – to me – major factors that have mitigated against take up of PS3 + HDTV in the UK and EU living rooms. It seems to constantly escape the attention of US media and electronics pundits that UK and EU living rooms are rather smaller than those in the US, and that the use of that space is fundamentally different. While I can see that HDTV will eventually dominate, I remain convinced that the take up will be slower than they all say. (yes, that means you, SONY)

What did grab my interest is the way in which YouTube (10.4m users) and others have taken off to develop the social media ecosystem. Add that to price comparison sites and we have yet more demands for small, customisable video content, much of it brand related or directly related to sales.  Personally, I loathe the way in which those hideous price comparison sites (no, I won't link to any of them, thanks) bubble to the top of search rankings. I don't trust them, I don't like them and yet I always seem to check them for large purchases. I can't find a way to accept how they subvert page rankings and stop me finding stuff I really want on Google.

Where I find myself in violent agreement is in the contention that for the younger market, UGC is rapidly becoming the most trusted source (PEW Internet report) of information. The simple facts of collaboration, peer review and “open review” are practically guaranteed to weed out bad recommendations and drive up quality. Pure “corporate shill” materials are simply doomed to lose mind share against UGC. What we need are great tools to develop it and better tools to collaborate. Some of those were at NMBX (see my previous post and save me posting those links again).

Mobile still goes over my head. Mobile is a big corporate world and I don't play much there. The numbers are so big, the costs so high and the entrenched operators so barricaded that I can't see much fun for start ups except right on the fringes as a sort of “hors d'oeuvre” plate for the telco to hoover up like pringle crumbs. Also, I simply refuse to ever accept that people want to watch any content over 10 seconds long on a phone. That pretty well rules out everything that the advertising companies are trying to ram down our throats. It is the wrong device, wrong location, wrong connection, wrong UI and just plain wrong. But I've been wrong before … I just don't think I am wrong on this one. Mobile phones are converging, but they are not places for ad supported video to dominate. For examples to cringe to, see these from Cellular News. Either way, the appallingly low conversion rates of ads to sales on SMS and MMS advertising is going to choke of growth off ad support for mobile content, and I for one am glad of that as I value my phone as a communication device and refuge from adverts.

So, it is all getting more complex, more video and more interesting. I'm glad to be in it. Roll on the future of media.