Dipping our toe into Internet Week

Back in the studio after a fleeting trip down to Internet Week Europe Headquarters.

First up was ‘A Fireside chat with Google’s Rikard Steiber & Chairman of IADAS David-Michel Davies.’ The fact that there was no actual fireplace was a little of a letdown, and if I’m being honest, the rest of the session didn’t ease my disappointment. Steiber talked through their latest offers and what they meant for users, brands and advertisers. The just-launched Google+ brand pages were a feature, as was Circles and Google Ripples.

MB (well, this blogger in particular) has been battling Google the past week, with frustrating experiences in managing our Google+ brand page, or the lack of customer service available for Google Analytics, or the irritating warnings when using multiple sign-ins in Gmail. As powerful as the promises behind Google’s products are, the last releases suggest they haven’t thought through how the product would actually be used. So when Steiber was asked whether they really thought people would leave behind their history with Facebook and move over to Google+, I was thrilled with his honestly optimistically response; “We haven’t understood you…but we’re just getting started.” Steiber acknowledging this was, for me, a step back in the right direction.

Next up was the Linkedin sponsored session ‘Targeting Prime Suspects.’ The content was mostly useful for those working either for or with global companies with budget to burn (case studies included HP and IBM. However, there were some nice take-outs for smaller B2C or B2B businesses, including ways to use Groups, and although no details were given, I’m excited about the advances we can expect to hit in 2012 regarding their Mobile offer and API’s.

Finally, I caught ‘Mobile – the Future of Publishing?’ a brilliant panel discussion between Steve Pinches from FT and Peter Buckley from Penguin, and moderated by Benedict Evans, Mobile Analyst at Enders.
The focus of the conversation was on the pros and cons of various platforms, as determined by their content and their users. In June, FT were the first publisher to launch an HTML5 browser-based app. Pinches’ admitted they made the decision to use HTML5 with an attitude towards its usability as “innocent until proven guilty.” So far it has enabled them to meet their three goals; it provides a consistent user experience, it removes the issues and costs associated with developing apps for different platforms, and enables them to be ‘masters of their own content.’ As a nice counterbalance, Buckley spoke about the DK Eyewitness apps, and the realities of building a travel app for a market that was too scared of data roaming costs to use their app ‘on-line.’

The highlight of the session for me was when an attendee admonished, rather petulantly, that all they had talked about was platforms. What about the CONTENT?! This was answered brilliantly by Pinches, who said content should not be considered as segmented by the device it would live on, adding “FT have banned the phrase ‘mobile web,’ because it has no meaning.” Of course, this will not be true for all brands. Buckley pointed out that they still very carefully consider the value of the content offer before deciding on the best platform. He used the hypothetical example of taking a beautifully heavy and detailed coffee-table book and re-purposing it into a £.69 app – which would be to ignore how the user wants to experience the content.

And that was it – my three hours at #IWE. If anyone else has stories or thoughts on Internet Week Europe events, leave us a comment or drop us a tweet. Enjoy the rest of the events, and good luck navigating the nightmare of a website!