New Media

The marketing men are all at sea
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The Independent Online

I FIND myself on board a ship stuffed full of marketers and agencies, moored just of the coast of France with absolutely no way of escape. The talk is all about new media and in which direction a client should be taking his - and 90 per cent of the people on board are men - marketing strategy in the largely unchartered waters of digital media.

I FIND myself on board a ship stuffed full of marketers and agencies, moored just of the coast of France with absolutely no way of escape. The talk is all about new media and in which direction a client should be taking his - and 90 per cent of the people on board are men - marketing strategy in the largely unchartered waters of digital media.

Not a session goes by without the conference buzzword, e-commerce, being mentioned - everyone here seems to be thinking very seriously about their new media strategy, and inevitably most of the conversations concern digital issues.

The irony is that it's almost impossible to get a satellite line out and get on the Internet. It took me an hour to locate the person who knew how to dial up to the Internet via a cabin phonepoint and then another hour attempting to get a satellite line to connect to an ISP.

In case you're wondering what the event is, it is the annual Marketing Forum, held this year on the luxurious Oriana. Although my badge says press, I like to think I'm here in the capacity of observer, watching and listening while the 1,000 or so marketers and agencies drudge through seminar after seminar with the intention of getting inspiration for business strategies and picking up new business.

It's still early days, but the marketers I've talked to so far are all highly clued up on new media, realising that unless they get it right now they will be left in the dark. Having observed the explosion of the Internet over the past four years and the subsequent ill-though-out brochureware websites, I find this incredibly refreshing. It's another sign that the Internet has come of age and that a boring brand site is just not enough.

Sitting here, surrounded by sea and fresh ideas, one could be forgiven for thinking that we're sailing into a new frontier and that the traditional marketers will finally do more than just tread digital water. Or perhaps the organisers are putting something in our food.

Simon resurfaces

Regular readers may be wondering what Simon Murdoch, erstwhile managing director of Amazon.co.uk, is up to now. He chose the Marketing Forum's opening address to reveal that he is setting up his own venture capital company which will trade under the name Episode1 Partners. Great news for the reported 120 commercial Internet ventures currently being launched every day, not to mention the people at First Tuesday. And again great news for the industry now that Murdoch's millions will be helping to fund the Amazons of tomorrow.

Currant affairs

Heard the one about the lost currant? It found itself squashed after a bunfight at Wapping. It turns out that C2s are the only people who like currants in their buns, which has caused user numbers on The Sun's ISP Currant Bun.com to plateau and News International to make the subtlest strategy U-turn in history.

My suspicions were raised a few weeks back when staff at Currantbun.com started answering the phone "bun.com". Then a number of articles have since appeared in The Times referencing the Sun's ISP bun.com. So where did the currants go? The finger points at Rupert Murdoch's son-in-law Alistair McCleod, charged with running News International Digital Publishing. Rumour has it that McCleod is a bit partial to the odd currant but up until now has not been tempted by the bun. Is this perhaps the reason for the mass exodus by staff at NIDP?

Can pay, must pay

Freelance journalists everywhere will be happy to hear the latest news from New York. A federal appeals court has ruled that three major publishers ( The New York Times, Newsday and Time Inc) cannot include the work of freelance contributors in electronic databases without the freelancers' permission.

The decision, which establishes new rules for electronic delivery of information, has been something freelance journalists have sought ever since their articles were put on to electronic databases without additional payment. It comes as competition in the online publishing market is intensifying, with newspapers and magazines putting most of their content online.

As case law on digital issues is thin on the ground, it probably won't be long until a similar ruling is made in a UK court. So electronic publishers could find themselves having to pay double the amount to freelances to be able to put the article on their website. Cue deep intake of breath by new media moguls everywhere.

amy@wagswell.co.uk

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