Delegates to last week’s International Advertising Association convention in London were told by Kevin Kelly, internet doyen and founder of Wired magazine, that no-one should worry they might be too late to get involved in the e-commerce revolution.

"You are not late in the market because the market is only 2000 days old”, he told his audience. “There are no web experts or e-commerce experts because we are all still learning." But although the medium is less than 2000 days old, it had grown incredibly fast; already there are forty million web sites and one billion web pages, while the network is doubling every year.

However, argued Kelly, “the Internet is nothing more than dumb chips and dumb web pages – but if you network them together you get something extremely potent. The first fax machine was worth zero and the person who bought it must have felt pretty stupid - who was he going to fax? The second fax added value to the first and so on."

He cited online auction site e-Bay as a modern example: "With a site like e-Bay, the more people who sell using it, the more attractive it is to others and the more buyers it attracts," he said. And, as the Internet expands, e-commerce firms will start to give things away for nothing.

"There will be free cellphones, free computers and eventually free cars - consumers will pay for insurance, maintenance and gas and they will get the car thrown in for nothing." But, warned the guru, as things become cheaper and cheaper and even free of charge, one thing becomes scarce - human attention. “Technology can do nothing about it - attention is scarce. Brands are attention management devices and will become increasingly important."

Brands that will prosper in the new networked economy are those that can grab attention, and which understand the consumer: “If you buy a book from they plot your taste and recommend others – and it works. Even if they raised the price by 20% I would still use it," Kelly said.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)