i-design 08 - Simon Waterfall
Simon Waterfall, creative director at Poke and former digital chair of D&AD, began the day with a series of questions and observations about the aspects of online media he found frightening and disturbing.
The web is enormous compared to any other media. The average UK resident spends 18 hours a week online - the equivalent of watching Lord of the Rings back-to-back twice every week. In the US, 205bn people go online three times a week. And the sites that people visit are very often not familiar to people from an offline background. The BBC, for example, is the tenth most popular site, well behind all the search engines, Facebook, Bebo and e-bay. This enormity makes advertising very hard, said Waterfall.
MySpace has a population of 190mn. Deciding to put a banner on the site is like sending a postcard to Brazil. And this analogy is apt - locations like MySpace have the same populations, and have their own cultures, language and traditions.
Sometimes it seems as though there are two webs. The marketing web and the real web. Brand managers are somehow under the impression that people use the Internet to go and look at marketing sites. This is patently not the case as even the most casual glance at the real figures will reveal.
However, the web operates as a truth engine. If you have a great product, we will know about it. People are happy to publish and share good news. Similarly, though, if marketers attempt to hide or obfuscate the truth, then it is all the web will talk about. The critical reaction to Nokia's forthcoming 'Comes with Music' range of phones, quickly remixed as 'Comes with DRM', is a case in point.
Marketers have a very skewed view of what people are like. Waterfall referred to countless briefs in which marketers have referred to a 'cash-rich; time-poor' audience. This is marketing bullshit: people aren't time poor, they are priorities poor. They will spend countless hours hunting down cool applications for their i-phone, which sadly leaves them with not much time to spend with their children. People will do what they want to do, regardless of how busy they might ostensibly be.
The web era means that there is no more pedigree. The web speaks new and emerging and ever-changing languages which require flexibility. An understanding of all communications channels is required to be able to speak to people. Poke haven't done a web-only project for five years.
A video of Waterfall's presentation will be available shortly.