And if you don’t buy that – if you think-stroke-know that Eric Schmidt is wrong and you know better, walk away now. There’s nothing for you to see here.
And in that category, I would throw everyone from Northcliffe Newspapers, OfCom, DCMS, Guardian Media Group and, of course, BT. And if I was in a mood to be particularly picky, Martha Lane Fox and the whole Race Online crew, too.
Line implies a wire. As in copper. As beloved by BT.
OK, I’m not wholly unversed in what follows; Addiply sat on GuardianLocal; likewise, once upon a time I sat for two hours in Northcliffe House listening to Roland Bryan’s vision for ‘Local People’ and we have, of late, just rolled out of the 2,700-odd AboutMyArea sites, now run by James Rudd. Our collaborative and open approach now delivers an advertising opportunity in every postcode district in the UK.
But let’s start here: with the news that Northcliffe were restructuring their whole ‘LocalPeople’ platform; leaving 75 of their ‘local’ publishers to their own fates and stream-lining their efforts around just 25 operatives; more tellingly still, they were pulling out of their non-footprint areas.
Abandoning their attempts to park a little tank on Archant’s lawn say, here. The more ad-savvy amongst you will note that if I am a local business in Sheringham, Holt, Cromer, etc… I can’t actually advertise on that site. Unless I go via California and back. Or give someone a ring. I presume that Sue Sweeney and Ian Arnold will be two of those ‘Local People’ for whom the future in now rather uncertain.
But in terms of worlds being closed and silo’d or open and networked, I’d have to say LocalPeople was stuck in the former camp. Commercially, that site is closed for business – unless you went via either Google or the centralised ad platforms in London town.
And *exactly* the same proposition presented itself to the local SMEs in Leeds, Edinburgh and Cardiff that wished to place a relevant display ad in front of 50,000 Guardianistas – commercially, it wasn’t an open platform. You had to deal with a centralised, complex, top-down ‘troika’ that involved Eric and Co, Guardian AdNetworks and, say, Operative.One.
Why is the future of local, display advertising so key in these debates?
Ask Eric. Or rather watch him speak to the IAB Leaders Conference last year; let him outline why there’s a $200 billion marketplace awaiting those that can marry mobile to display. Simply.
First, where are the eyeballs going? Where does Google see ‘connection’ happening? Via a PC and a copper wire (Martha/BT)? Or from on high? From a mobile connection?
“We look at the charts internally and it’s happening faster than all of our predictions. So everything we talked about in our opening and what you hear here says: ‘Do mobile!’”
Do mobile. Martha. Do Mobile.
“So when I look at it from an advertising perspective, I see the union of the mobile device and advertising. And I see, in particular, display advertising as the thing that is really going to revolutionise this.
“How big could this market be? When I modelled it – using some of the assumptions that I am talking about – I’ve concluded that the overall advertising display business can be a $200 billion business globally. That gives you a sense of the scale of the market that we’re all walking into.”
But that marketplace can only be unlocked via simplicity. And not having to give someone a ring…
“It’s still too complicated to get a campaign up (4.28). It’s just too hard. When you actually sit down and sit down with customers, they say: ‘Show me how you do this!’”
Three images; three maps; three local networks relevant to the people of Norfolk.
Number one, LocalPeople… before they retreat into their Bristol bunker.
And number three, WiSpire. When the Diocese of Norwich starts to deliver, higher-speed rural broadband across its network of church spires.
“Churches have historically been at the heart of their local communities and in many rural areas, where the church is the only community resource left.
“WiSpire will enable the church to re-establish itself as a community hub and WiFi hotspot available for everyone to use within its vicinity providing information about the church and the local community to tourists and other visitors…”…says the Diocesan website. The Bishop sits on the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications. Next week they will be hearing from Sean Williams, Group Strategy Director for… BT.
The man from the canal industry being quizzed by the Bishop, who is busily building a railway.
One that plans ‘hubs’ at the centre of every local community – offering a potential mobile connection, with both social and commercial opportunities, for the SMEs that gather around that local church spire.
Eric has one other message to us all; one that he elaborated on in a keynote at DreamForce last summer. Again, worth watching. That the next ’something’ in this space will not only be mobile, but will be local. And social.
“What I do know is that the next generation of these leaders will be something involving mobile, local and social which are the terms we use today for the way that people live and work,” he said.
Nor was he looking to a box in the corner with the line attached – copper or otherwise – being a major player in this space.
“If you go back to the history of PC platforms… they were essentially invented in the mid-70s, so you have something that is essentially 35-40 years old. And we have exhausted what can be done with that kind of platform – there’s a new kind of platform and the top programmers are building mobile applications first. Because it has location…”
It has locality.
It’s local. And you abandon that at your peril.