Things I learned on the Christmas break

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I met with a number of people and observed a number of things during the Christmas break. On their own not enough for a blog post about them, but I thought there maybe something in putting them all together.

  • According to an entrepreneur I met even targeted high circulation print coverage delivered little traffic to a site. The only one that worked at all was a Sunday supplement squarely in their area which provided 200 or so unique users. Blogs and online coverage was more valuable from a business point-of-view. Consumers aren’t sufficiently engaged with analogue media to answer a call-to-action in a different media, you would need to provide analogue calls-to-action for analogue media
  • Messaging and SEO: the entrepreneur measured their messaging purely in terms of key word terms. By implication, PR was a tactical, rather than strategic discipline

The biggest technology users I came across was late gen-X and boomers:

  • Example 1: I came across was a passionate record collector, they used eMule all the time to pull down rare recordings. They had a stack of Western Digital drives full of recorded media which didn’t get listened to, yet was pulling down more. Digital services were an easier, but less satisifying way of collecting music. When I was with them, all the music they played was on vinyl. Analogue media is more social and more satisfying
  • Example 2: an older divorcee close to retirement age. Going out was too expensive so the PC was seen as an investment. They then appreciated the ‘tinker factor’ that it allowed. They spend four-to-six hours leisure time per day interacting with media online and hasn’t used his television in six years. They share films and and TV shows (not yet screened in the UK) with colleagues, encouraging them to watch The Wire and FlashForward when it was finally screened

Generation X are a lucrative entertainment market:

  • Retro Trax is a shop in New Brighton which sells nothing but older recordings. They have expanded their franchise to include compilation CDs and running regular club nights aimed squarely at the gen-X marketplace
  • Their offering is a sub-culture that is very specific to the north of England, making it hard for major brands like Ministry of Sound or HTFR to invade their niche. But there is no reason why localised offerings of a similar nature couldn’t be done in other areas like London. It is essentially analogue micro-media

Mobile broadband

  • I spent much of the time at home trying to get connectivity. My folks don’t have broadband and I was getting a download speed of bits-per-second across a number of mobile carriers. The promise that we talk about as technologists of ubiquitous pervasive broadband is still science fiction in many urban and suburban areas

Sat nav – disruptive technology

  • Not driving a car in the UK, it is easy to get into my own pedestrian bubble. Going home to Liverpool reminded me how ubiquitous satnav devices where. TomTom have had their crown dented a bit as police cars and ambulances use Garmin devices. The thing I found most interesting was the personal relationship between owner and sat nav device was as important as that between an owner and their mobile phone
  • Interestingly Google mobile mapping applications and phone-based mapping software was frowned upon as not being ‘professional enough’. The data was perceived as not being good enough and you wouldn’t be taken seriously by your peers as a fellow sat nav user