ILM '08: Mark Canon's Vision for Local Media

Mark Canon, President of New Media, [praized subtype=”small” pid=”133f6afd48025ab56a05c6d6f6dace27″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”], had the opening keynote on Day 1 of the Kelsey Group ILM ’08 Conference.  He shared with us his “facts on the ground”, described the cultural anthropology of traditional local media companies and tried his hand at forecasting the future in local media (always a topic I like!).

In “facts on the ground”, he offered the following:

  1. Search engines are the new browsers. This means the local media industry has to get used to paying “taxes”.  Perry would call it “owning” the third page of search.  It’s also one of the reasons why search engine optimization has become such an important notion in local media in the last 12-18 months.
  2. Usage is agnostic and context is king. We have to learn about context and accept its limitations (ex: mobile device).
  3. Information is getting smarter. Local media should own the context, not the content. It should rent the framework (work with technology companies that understand context and that worry about specifics 24/7)
  4. Publishers will sell what they don’t have (ex: [praized subtype=”small” pid=”10764fab856fb75ccc92cc5055c1997f21″ type=”badge” dynamic=”true”] ad network). They need to create what they need but sell what they can.  They need to manage capacity, not scarcity and they should focus on conversion.

On a cultural corporate anthropology level, he explains that directory publishers (and other traditional media firms online I would add) have been working like islands (with restricted access, a lot of editorial control and bespoke ad sales).  Currently, the activity on the Web is more like archipelagos (with aggregated data, user-generated content, more open access, and ad networks).  He foresees a future where we operate in “ecologies” (with federated data, semantic context, fluid distribution, and ad ecologies).

And, according to Canon, what does the future hold in local media?

  1. Smart contexts, smarter content
  2. Voice search and navigation (Google’s voice search on the iPhone come to my mind)
  3. Socially mediated commerce (i.e. leveraging online word-of-mouth)
  4. Dimensional consumption (i.e. personalization)

Update: Phil from sent me this link to a video of the presentation.

What it means: one of the most insightful presentations I’ve ever heard at a Kelsey conference. I’ve known Mark since his years ( was running on the Switchboard platform from 1999 to 2002) and he clearly showed his experience in search and local/vertical media.  I especially like the following insights: a) adapt to the context (the Web is not Print, Mobile is not the Web) b) rent the framework (work with experts) c) build a local ad network (increase your reach!) and d) embrace socially mediated commerce (I believe word of mouth is the great local search disruptor).


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