Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Do Digital and Government go together?

Last night I read the entire report, "Digital Britain" which is the UK Govt's initial thoughts on how to accelerate the digital revolution and make sure the UK is at the forefront compared to other countries. Whilst I won't go into the specifics of the 84 pages, a few things were apparent which are worth sharing.

1. There is competition and enormous variability between nations. Whilst the internet transcends global boundaries and as users we think of it as boundless, in fact the infrastructure, content, education and business opportunities are heavily influenced by where you physically reside. The UK wrote this paper specifically to make sure they get ahead of / keep up with Asia, US and mainland Europe.

2. The UK - and other countries including Australia - are promising a "Universal Service Commitment" which means legally ensuring that 99% of the population have access to high speed next generation broadband by 2012. What started out as a consumer/corporate revolution has firmly entered Government thinking, and they will provide the backing and education to ensure that digital penetration continues to grow until every person is online, from 4 year olds to 94 year olds.

3. Whilst content is again global, the UK wants to make sure that quality UK content is a thriving part of the UK user's experience - essentially they don't want to lose what it is to be British culturally as we are overwhelmed by non-local content. They see the BBC as central to this but not on it's own.

4. As content grows exponentially, the ability to monetize it via advertising diminishes. And the ability to protect content (rights management) is also a thorny issue. At present it doesn't seem that anyone has a good solution to either problem and we expect to see a whole raft of different monetisation models appearing until a smaller number stand the test of time. The watchword for marketers within this is Trust - with so much content out there, I will turn to well known brands for information I can trust.

5. The increasing availability of public service transactions online will drive online penetration - think of old people accessing their healthcare professional online (through their TV internet connection as opposed to a PC based internet connection). And the Government will invest in education and hardware to extend access to all children no matter whether their parents can afford a laptop or not, and no matter where they live.

So, what's the applicability to Australia and to marketers? Assuming that Australia's National Broadband Network actually happens (remoured to be delayed)...and that Australia's Government embraces digital wholeheartedly...First off, all your consumers will be online, so start testing now, don't just restrict to youth brands. Second, consumers will be getting used to the provision of all many services online, and this will be driven by Government and Business so see what services you can plan to deliver online. Third, and at long last, banner ads will become almost worthless and we can move on to focus on effective content/entertainment/information driven online solutions where the brands we work with have the advantage of Trust.

Link to the paper is here: http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/broadcasting/5631.aspx

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