In last month’s Campaign Dan O’Brien said Websites must be less insular.
Mairi Clark compiles responses
Are British Websites too insular?
What use is the Vauxhall Website outside the UK? Whatever happens to the
global information superhighway, the cars on real highways will remain
local commodities. But if you are selling something, like information or
software, that can be distributed as bits, then you can expand your
market on the Web. Even if your business model is advertising-driven,
there is no reason why it should not be international. The last
statistics produced for the Internet backbone before the US government
stopped funding it a year ago showed that while France put in twice as
many bits as it took out, Britain served half as many bits into the
backbone as it requested; so Britain had a deficit in the balance of
trade in bits on the Internet. This is disgraceful given the advantages,
including our use of English, that Britain has in this global free
market. British Websites must look outwards.
Matthew Doull, Wired magazine email@example.com
Sites don’t have to be global any more. Servers can recognise where you
are and so local sites can be delivered to a relevant audience. A
British company may not want or need to go global. Many US global
corporate sites are not appropriate, tonally or creatively, for a UK or
European audience. The UK is now competing on intellect, imagination and
creativity - in these categories the UK is among the world’s leaders.
Jane Ostler, Ogilvy and Mather firstname.lastname@example.org
Why should a UK Website be expected to appeal to a worldwide audience
just because there is the potential to do so? Although the trend is
towards media globalisation, cultural interests are still restrained by
borders, and content must appeal to the chosen market. In developing a
successful Internet presence, information must be relevant and useful.
This doesn’t have to be limited to UK tastes, but the UK sites could be
less interesting if they came from a global perspective. Marketers seem
to be developing ‘supersites’ offering a single address, but revising
the message entirely for individual countries. This is probably the way
to avoid insularity, if it matters!
Neil Miller, DNA Communications email@example.com
Parochialism, of course, is what the Internet is all about. It’s not a
global medium, it’s a personal medium. It’s about conversation, dialogue
and intimacy - micro-targets not mass markets. So Websites should be
parochial - in that they should address directly and exclusively the
interests of their chosen constituency. They should not seek to be
global merely because they can. That’s why sites like Yell work -
they’re specific to life in the UK. It’s all very cool to browse the
dataspace of Palo Alto but I want to know what’s on at the Premier in
Peckham. The Web isn’t going to be a credible medium until it stops
being cool and starts being useful - and if that means being parochial
and, dare I say it, local, then so be it.
Russell Davies, Leo Burnett firstname.lastname@example.org. com
Although, the Web is arguably the first truly global medium, that
doesn’t mean we have to suffer some bland mid-Atlantic common
denominator. More likely we’ll have a cacophony of local colour. The
marketing function is traditionally split along geographical lines. So
it’s natural for a brand manager to want a Website to enhance the local
bottom line. The success of the few truly global brands relies on the
export of US culture. But a new breed of global brands is emerging where
the product is more or less the same worldwide, but the brand
positioning is local and specific. The global village is the spice of
life - as cosmopolitan as New York or London. Before we know it, our
insular UK Websites will have Scottish, Yorkshire and London flavours,
delivered seamlessly to those audiences because the Internet server
knows who’s talking to it. At that point, despised insularity becomes
the coveted goal of precise targeting.
Paul Syrysko, Stream email@example.com