Canadian Magazine Industry News
30 January 2014,     TORONTO
Kevin Kelly at FFWD: 'Data flow is the new media'
FFWD Advertising & Marketing Week in Toronto kicked off with a presentation by Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired magazine, on the evolution of content.

Kelly spoke on the surge of technology and how its ever-increasing pace of innovation affects the world of marketing and media. Personal computers began as clunky, niche devices that grew to spawn a landscape of screens and constant streams of user data. Screens have jumped from desktops to pockets and are finding homes on walls throughout the personal and public space. "The flow of data is the new media," Kelly said.

Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired and author of Cool Tools, at FFWD 2014
Kevin Kelly, founding executive editor of Wired and author of Cool Tools, at FFWD 2014

From the page to the screen

"Western culture was founded on the book," said Kelly. "Now, the culture revolves entirely around the screen, and sensibilities are much more dynamic."

As screens become more ubiquitous, sprouting in cars and restaurants and other places (until they will be literally "everywhere," Kelly said), the audience follows. More importantly, these screens are not silos, creating an ecosystem of info typified by the now common practice of using secondary screens, such as a cell phone or tablet, while simultaneously watching television and/or working on a laptop.

"Sharing" is the verb of the screen, said Kelly, and the more that is shared the more the cloud of big data grows in size and influence. "The more data is shared, the more valuable it is," he said. The prominence of sharing means the audience's perception of ownership is evolving, as consumers increasingly choose personalization and vanity over privacy, he said.

The importance of attention

"Wherever attention flows, money will follow," said Kelly. The data is out there for a revolution of how media and marketing companies reach their target audience, he said. "Gain attention, gain influence." Kelly floated several ideas of how data could be leveraged, including the possibility of paying consumers to view ads, or prompting readers to curate ads for themselves.

Magazine publishers can't curate their ads like they do with content, but if consumers did that for themselves and publishers were then paid to run the ads, advertisers would be pushed to either create better ads or pay more for less attention-grabbing campaigns. Magazines, perhaps both print and digital, could carry personalized ad spots. "Imagine a peer to peer prosumer ad network--social ads," said Kelly.

Follow the flow

"The new organizing metaphor is chronological, streams and flow," Kelly said. Content, whether Twitter, Netflix or Next Issue digital magazine streams, is constant and emphasizes access over ownership.

The idea of the "quantified self" has consumers using their technology to track their health, location, life events and consumption patterns, leading to an external memory of data culled from increasingly sophisticated devices. "Data is as valuable as your customers," Kelly said. "The flow of data is the new media."

The stream is the new system, and successful brands will be the ones that learn to market to this system. "The screen ecology is where your audience is…amplify the sharing and follow the attention," Kelly said.
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