Just what is going on? I'm beginning to be fearful of bumping into the Holsten Pils brigade. I'm talking about the guys who wear suits you would die for, and wine and dine big ad agencies. These happy chappies are part of a growing breed of entrepreneurs (intrapreneurs?) who make money advising ad agencies on new media issues. Should they do banner advertising? Should they mess around with CD-ROMs? Should they have a Web site?
The agencies, of course, are pondering on these matters on behalf of their clients. While these agencies like to tell their clients they know all there is to know about new media, the truth is some of them actually pay the intrapreneurs to make them look good; walk the walk, talk the talk - that kind of thing.
Most of us think (hope) that these guys tell the agencies to tell their clients how wonderful the Internet is; what a good call it is to do a spot of banner advertising; how great it is to have your own whiz-bang Web site. Not quite. My man Harry Holsten tells me that agencies are a bit pissed off with the Internet and need good reasons for telling their clients to get Webbed up. As Harry puts it: "Look, these guys are like coal-face workers. They know how to extract hundreds of thousands of pounds from their clients in all the traditional ways: TV, radio and print. They don't really want their clients breaking up their budgets for Web sites or banner ads."
I asked Harry if he ever recommends that the client has a site. "Rarely," he replied. "When would a site be good?" I asked hopefully. "Can't think of an example," he replied.
Some of my contacts in the Web developer community tell me there are plenty more where Harry comes from. "Yeah, you hear that kind of talk, but what are they on about saying that a multinational only needs a US Web site? Haven't they heard of local content?" Indeed.
Bearing in mind that most of the agencies got caught out during the first wave of the Internet, could this be their way of getting revenge? Netragnome demands to know.
I found one answer talking to someone who has just carried out extensive research of the UK Internet ad industry. "What's really going on?" I asked him. He didn't pull his punches: "It's amazing that there are only really about a dozen top players selling Net advertising in the UK, but try getting something like a rate card out of them. Half the time you can't find anyone who'll talk about rates. When you finally do, they don't really want to talk about rates let alone give you things like "click through" or "hit" figures. Apart from your smoothly run operation, you get the impression no one's really making much money." It's a sorry state, but Netragnome has heard that Internet World will shortly be publishing its league table of Internet ad rates. Those peddlers of banner ads had better start dusting down their presentations.
This month I'm full of admiration for the online news team at MSN UK.
Apparently, their ace Political Editor, Nick Assinder, is the UK's first cyberhack; filing his stories hot from the scene of action by virtue of his digital camera connected to his laptop connected to his mobile connected ... you know the kind of thing. He even records soundbites that are added to his online stories.
Bill Gates knows the meaning of multitasking, that's for sure. What would you say was the combined salary of a newspaper journalist, a photographer and a part-time radio man? A lot more than Nick's getting, I reckon. But as Nick says in his online story (www.news.uk.msn.com), there are compensations. "There's a genuine feeling of being on the verge of a new media breakthrough which will ultimately have an impact as great as the invention of the TV or phone. Honest, you'll all be using it soon." You've been warned.
Let's end on a happier note. Fans of American crooner Joni Mitchell will be pleased to hear that, thanks to the Internet, Joni has been reunited with her long-lost daughter whom she had given up for adoption a year after birth. A fan, Wally Breeze, who runs a Joni Mitchel Web site, had used the site to help Mitchel find her long-lost daughter.
Despite many fake applications (Mitchell is mega rich), the fan had weeded out all but the genuine article. An emotional meeting then followed and the pair are now spending time getting to know each other.
Mitchel's joy has been doubled with the finding that she's also a grandmother to a four-year-old boy. Tell that to the next ad man who tells you the Internet's just for nerds.
NASA's Voyager 2 probe set to reveal secrets of space beyond the heliosphere as it goes interstellar
The probe is now more than 18 billion kilometres from Earth, with equipment enabling it to reveal some of the secrets of interstellar space
Four glaciers located west of massive Totten glacier have lost almost three metres of ice in height since 2008
Ceres, located in the asteroid belt, has a carbonaceous-rich upper crust, SwRI study claims
The spacecraft found traces of hydrogen and oxygen molecules, known as hydroxyls, embedded in the rocky surface of the asteroid