Before I begin, an admission. I talk about content on a daily basis: sourcing content, creating content, distributing content, taking content out to dinner. Whatever the conversation, I know the 'c' word isn't far away. And given what we, as an agency, do it's normally asking clients to get their people to showcase what makes their job so great and why others should follow suit. And yet - here it comes - in the three plus years I have worked at AIA, despite all the great things I've been able to see, do, talk about, and learn, I've never written anything myself. So that's going to change. And what better way to do so than laying in the bath, listening to the radio with a cup of tea and iPad in hand.

That mental image aside, the point of this is to quickly run through my take on day one at Silicon Beach, a digital thinking and innovation (insert other buzz words here) conference in Bournemouth - a place I haven't been to since last being seen taking refuge in a kebab shop on my stag do some three years ago.

I haven't been to a conference of this type before, and huge kudos to the organisers because I'm both excited for day two tomorrow, and amazed/sad at how quickly today has passed. Ten speakers, more devices than people and some genuinely thought provoking presentations to bring back to London. Although I'll keep that hush, there's a subtle anti-London sentiment amongst the local tech community. (Did you know 74% of the digital companies/agencies/start-ups are OUTSIDE of London?)

So, what are the headlines:

Creating content when there is no demand is a recipe for disaster

This point is obvious. But less clear is the need to understand what that demand actually looks like, which means using data and to inform decisions on how we talk to our audience. What triggers a response with an individual? Where do they want to find info? How do they want to be spoken to? @ageofaudience hit the nail in on the head for Vice, and their success. Their audience doesn't want the formal, nice to meet you chat. They want the drunk and emotional, setting the world to rights, 5 am chat, and they deliver that. I know for all of our clients, there is a brand issue, but if if that is how people want to engage, then is that worth more than a preset corporate tone?

​The physical impact of technology on us as humans

We're forever multitasking, or at the very least convincing ourselves we are. In fact, we're task switching. Albeit quickly, we're never really doing multiple things at once. What does this mean? It means we're spreading ourselves thin and almost forever distracted. It was fascinating to learn that when using one device, our retention rate is 92%. Throw in a couple more - the laptop next to you and the television that's just on in the background, and that drops to a third. For us as advertisers, it means we have less time to work with, and getting someone's attention is costing 20% more than it did before, so we need to adapt. We already talk about snackable content, and I think this is going to be an ever growing consideration as we try and deliver a message before YouTube lets you skip an ad.

​People first, and not the technology

An overwhelming message from a lot of the speakers was what I would term, responsible technology. Technology isn't the future. It is a huge enabler to make our lives better, but it should always be for this objective and considered alongside factors (basically the PESTLE model). It isn't an excuse for us to switch off because the machine can do it. A machine can only do what it is programmed to do. Yes it can learn behaviours, but that first instance is always dependent upon us. If we are to use technology as more integral parts of out lives - spoiler alert, we will, we have a responsibility to continue the curious nature that made them in the first place. Now this has got a bit deep, and I'm not going to take apart the kettle in this room to work out how that works, but it was important at a tech event to take a step back and remind ourselves of our role as users. Facebook already decides which of your friends is more relevant to hear from, where could it end up?

And that's it for day one, I will write something again tomorrow - probably not from the bath but who knows. Nathan and I are tweeting from the event, wifi allowing so check us out on @nathan_perrott and @ry4n21.

Oh, and I wasn't lying ...


Digital Experience Strategist

As a Digital Experience Strategist at The Economist, Ryan is responsible for identifying opportunities for use of digital innovation. Ryan has a wealth of experience in digital marketing, content strategy, UX, SEM and social media strategy and focuses on creating optimised user experiences that drive engagement and inspire users to take action. If digital experience is his first love, then sport is his second. Follow him on Twitter and read his latest comments and observations on both.