Local media and Internet: another approach

Presentation at Interactive Publishing by Luc Sala november 15, 1995 in Zurich :

CD-ROM: the medium was the message

Who wants what: targeting media products at the right people.

New media, computers and the new edge are some of the area's I explore both commercially and as a writer/publisher, but today I would like to limit myself to some practical ponits concerning the market for media and especially electronic media.
There are three area's I would like to address here:
A: what psychological profile does the user/customer of multimedia have, leading to the sad conclusion that usually the makers are not the buyers/users.
B: Content and form, choose the right mix in CD-ROM, Internet and other multimedia
C: Cheaper and faster to market, the fight for the end-user foregoes medium, copyrights, marketing channels and asks for a production structure that is based on common standards like html and a real feel for what interests the user.
I will relate this to my experience in developing and marketing computers, computer-magazines, computer-services, CD-ROM's, audio-magazines, books, software and the first Internet-cafe in the Netherlands.

In the jungle of multi-media productions, marketing channels, creative and production talent plus myriad of CEO and marketing-boys who declare to have the ultimate formula it is very hard to come back to some simple and basic rules.

I believe that in multimedia marketing we have mostly forgotten what the end-user wants, we are again techno-pushing and hyping a digital wave that is not grounded in a real need of the average citizen.

Think about the user, what's in it for him/her.

This is the most important question and try to see why the multi-billion page public library of the Internet WWW really only makes sense for a limited group.

Make a clear distinction between the I know, so I am and the I see, so I am (I feel, I connect), and the I act, so I am (I buy, I use, I meet) user-segments.
Don't try to sell products that are made by one personality type to another group, don't assume that what works for some will work for all.
These groups roughly compare to head, body and heart-types. These types are very fundamental and are related to the basic `drives' in our lives but this can be translated into very practical things like fonts, color preferences, information density and the relationship between form and content. We have to judge products and services in this respect, how does it serve the basic need/drive of a person. The head person, the nerd was the ideal type for the encyclopedic CD-ROM and first wave (textual information only) Internet-markets, but will we succeed in selling the same type of service to people that are only interested in the looks and feeling of a product, in what impression one makes with it, if it is in'or not.
The second wave of Internet-activities, with all the multimedia hype, the graphics etc. looks great and hip, but doesn't cope with the need for immediacy in the see/feel people.

Observe the network marketing (multi-level) characteristic of the Internet with at first a clear feeling of superiority for those who are `in'.

Some success will come from the herding quality, the network-marketing/piramid like pitch and the fact that your own Internet-adress (home-page/ISDN number/videophone etc.) gives you more perceived `rank' in the cyber-hierarchy. As this market is pushed by the techno-fascist elite, claiming to be better, smarter, more happy than the next one, many believed the Internet-prophets who benefit most from the hype have had their success stories, newspapers, magazines, TV and even this conference is full of them.

However, I don't feel that the Internet (or any medium that tries to sell data as information, abundance as happiness and speed as enlightenment) is going to succeed in the mass-markets, because it simply doesn't deliver these goodies.
The average citizen Joe Sixpack doesn't need the world at his fingertips, he needs to cater for his basic needs, either knowing, seeing or acting, but no product that is an amalgam of these three (a CR-ROM can be full of data, is shining and has attractive pictures -that don't easily show up on the screen- but what can you do with it apart from feeding your computer) will succeed in the long run. Maybe a separation in visual (like CD-video), interactive (CD-I and CD-ROM in their best reincarnations) and pure facts (Internet WWW) will help here.

Nearly ten years of CD-ROM has only led to price-erosion, copyright-problems and reduced value-perception, while the timeliness and accessability of the Internet has attacked CD-ROM as a medium for dynamic and encyclopedic data. Making money in CD-ROM's for a large end-user audience becomes harder and harder.

I learned from my own fairly large-scale CD-ROM productions and marketing efforts. Ten of Thousand of CD's are made nearly monthly now to act as a premium for magazines and we joined that trend. Prices went down, our efforts to produce the best CD-ROM's with our own `content' and copyrighted material proved relatively ineffective against a competition that just assembled series of CD's with shitware and freeware. Our standard of integrity became laughable, as magazine buyers only wanted the shiny discs and probably hardly ever used them.
A result of 34 responses for a month Internet-account out of 14.000 discs wasn't encouraging.We discovered, the hard way, that in-house development of interfaces and data-structures is a risky path, as newer software offers better functionality and better integration and the old structures are discarded.

But there are lessons, and one of them is that using one data/encoding standrad in the company for all media-activities is a logical step, not only because it facilitates the production of added value, but it steamlines the internal processes. We have found html to be a good

HTML as an access-structure for CD-ROM's is a risk-free development path with seamless integration of CD-ROM as a data-carrier and the Internet as a publication-medium.
First hand experience has taught me that:

Internet-cafe's as a stand-alone commercial enterprise are risky

ISDN is only better as an Internet-medium because you get a less congested access to your provider (technically ISDN and Internet are not good friends)

sex is a driving factor on the NET, still amounts to 60 tot 70% of the traffic on my site, even after I took the erotic content off (6 months ago)

Internet-business is driven by
A: Post hippy and Post-Hacker do-gooders with fat subsidies in the backs and looking for more
B: the media and media people that stand to benefit personally from the success
C: eager business-men with little real connection with the market
D: big conglomerates that are relatively blind to reality
I therefore see a serious problem the Internet and especially the WWW as a general public mass-medium. For business-to-business and intra-business communications tool is has more future and general e-mail will thrive too, but for mass-marketing the NET is DEAD

Point of advice:

- Data becomes only information, when the bit bytes!

Local media and Internet: another approach

copyright LS '95/6