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February 21, 2006

Make mine a Martini event!

So Rupert Murdoch`s finally confirmed that the second phase of the Digital Revolution has arrived with his concession that the consumer - and not he - is now in control of media consumption. Apparently our convenience-obsessed society is to demand content whenever, wherever and however it wants it. Even Auntie Beeb`s got sweet on pushing podcasting to its ageing Middle Englanders in the knowledge that it can rely on our Mensa-level, techno-whizz eight to twelve year olds to educate their bewildered elders. In this new age of anywhere, anytime on-the-go media (large fries and giant coke with that?) our super-knowledgeable colleagues at Telecom TV decanted to Barcelona in February. The event? Informa Group's awesome flagship 3GSM World Congress where TTTV put into practice a potent cocktail of New Age media to illustrate how, just perhaps, this Martini media might help add a cherry or two to the value of your event investment. We all knew this was going to be the year that we forgot the annual chime emanating from Congress (about how much the operators had been rolled over by governments six years ago for monopoly of national 3G airspace). Instead we listened to how much ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) they intended to squeeze out of mobile TV to handsets and a plethora of other new wave media services hereafter that even incumbent telcos like BT are hanging their future backsides upon. You could hear the City boys dusting down their Web 1.0 sombreros and upgrading to wireless headsets in preparation for the next surge of M&As. Applications tech stocks went north, and a whole load of long-suffering tech-heads went to the beach as VoIP and other disruptive technologies filtered to the top of the trading floor radar. Apparently Web 2.0 has arrived, girls - and now it's your turn to put on the squeeze. OK, froth over. But, there`s a great opportunity for the marketing fraternity and a great opportunity for brand and community owners alike. Let me explain. In Barcelona, Telecom TV dispatched two camera crews, two editors, two portable editing suites and some encoders. With a few local screens (albeit 60 square metres - big enough to bring a tear to even Robbie Williams` eye) and a 2meg internet connection, they captured the key content of the event. With which they promptly blasted the online communities of the event organiser (Informa), the trade body (the GSM Association), and their own (Telecom TV), with news, views, and product launches the world over to any desktop or handheld device you care to mention. Streamed, downloaded, (and measured), or just plain old broadcast (yawn, and not measured). It was very much a reality as Telecom TV went live with additional distribution to local hotel rooms via cable; via a regional partnership with CNBC Europe; via its own mobile internet TV service www.telecomtv2go; downloads via i-Tunes; podcasting with Siemens (demo only). And via a news exchange with a forward thinking ITN Multimedia which already has a deal in place to distribute programming over the top three operator platforms - O2, Vodafone, and Orange. (Clever boys when you think there will be ten million 3G handsets in the UK by June). Cumulative global audience (predominantly online) estimated at over 750,000. Visitors to the event: 50,000. Mmm. Let`s do the maths. You spend a pound or several to reach your (very small) share of 50,000 people face to face. Hopefully you`ve got off your backside and invited your own key customers to the event and, apart from picking up the odd job-seeker or inadvertent sales lead, you network your socks off and milk your installed base of customers for even more. If the organiser is half decent, he`ll deliver a few more new leads, and the rest is down to the collective invites of all the vendors, the media owners within the sector and the other relevant stakeholders. BUT, for a few dollars more, vendor and organiser alike utilise the event as a content factory and a `distribution hub` so that YOU tell YOUR world what YOU have to say -anytime, any place and on any device. It seems so obvious. But somewhere in the product development cycle of many event/brand (or should we call them `community`?) owners, there seems to be a reluctance to extend these brands to their opted-in databases in the form of perpetual online platforms - in addition to their face to face offerings. Too long in the dark ages I suspect: "We're bloody organisers, not a bloody (IP)TV channel !". Another Mmm. This needs a collaborative debate among the stakeholders. Most vendors want ongoing dialogue over a diet of multiple media platforms - F2F as well as digital, broadcast, and published media. And with so much demand for segmented reach within both B2B and B2C markets, you would have thought that event owners (as well as their trade or consumer publishing counterparts) would be rushing to own the desktops, the mobile TV and all IP-based distribution outlets of these segmented markets. Its definitely time for vendors to shake, not stir, their exhibition, conference and award owners. For more information on 3GSM World Congress visit www.gsmworld.com To view Telecom TV`s coverage of 3GSM World Congress visit www.telecomtv.com/3gsm06 James Latham is Commercial Director at Decisive Media / Telecom TV and Events Review.
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