WidgetCon: Chris Jones, former CEO, JWT

Live from Freewebs’ WidgetCon

Chris Jones, former CEO, JWT

Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants – roughly the under 30 vs. over 30 set. He’s a Digital Immigrant, but he seems to be comfortable in the homeland.

He mentioned disruption as a major buzzword relating to the Internet. ‘The Internet has not created chaos in marketing. It has merely revealed it.”

Allusion: classical Athens, with everything pristine and orderly, with everyone “bowing down before the same gods.” That was the previous era for marketer. “It may have been a consumer society, but the gods were the television networks” and the marketers (his quotes are better than I’m able to capture in full). Yet he noted that things were never as ordered as things seemed – “creating some illusion of order and rationality out of infinite muddle.” In the 4-network TV age, the consumer data was “woefully inadequate.” Big brands were in the hands of underpaid, junior employees.

Civil War: railroads, literacy created national media – such as national magazine market. Mass production and distribution was here, with magazines informing consumers. Commonly occurring barrier to sale: “the inability of the advertiser to know what to put in his advertisement.” Early pioneers, including J. Walter Thomson, were paid by publishers but were starting to work for the clients.

In the last 15 years, explosive growth in distributed power and literacy. Feels like “an inchoate mess” for marketers. Marketers need tools. There are 3 great forces powering digital momentum: 1. bandwidth, 2, search (“the umbilical link between Internet usage and commerce”), 3. user-generated content.

[“I’m a little lost with him going from fitzgerald to athens to the civil war to goat herders. – instant message I wrote a colleague during the speech]

Back to Chris Jones: important driving force – word of mouth [this had something to do with the goat herders].

If someone were to write a movie today about the ad business, it would be “What Clients Want,” though not likely a blockbuster. What messages would Mel Gibson be hearing in that movie? [My take: “Team up with Tom Cruise to make a movie about Jesus teaming up with L. Ron Hubbard.]

New digital forces: Universal bandwidth, search engines, rapid growth in desire and willingness to express oneself online. Old forces that still matter: desire to be an active part of the marketplace, desire to be entertained, desire to share experiences.

“I don’t think widgets are a universal panacea, but there won’t be many other things that fit so neatly into this pattern.”