There was Mr Tom Bowman, who started out as an evangelist of new media at Ziff Davis, commercialising it’s nascent online service, and eventually became head of Microsoft’s online sales for Europe.
Under the marquee, dishing out champagne, could be found Mr Andrew Walmsley, one half of the duo (with Mr Charlie Dobres) who created I-Level, Britain’s largest independent buyer of online media.
Sitting nearby was Ms Deborah Loth who, at Intermedia, set up one of the first Web agencies, went on to create Lowe Digital and now heads up digital strategy for OneWorld.org.
Promoting the charity auction was Ms Carol Dukes, who headed up one of the earliest new-media sales houses, built Carlton Television’s interactive business, went on to set up ThinkNatural.com and works with Trinity Mirror.
Net Vet organiser Mr Bill Gash, who left the safe confines of television to take on Yahoo UK and now works in interactive television, was there too, as was Mr Steve Bowbrick, one half of another dynamic duo (with Mr Ivan Pope) that created Webmedia, the largest first-generation Web design and marketing agency, and founder of Another.com, the world’s first paid-for Web e-mail service.
Every one of them was, and is, a dyed-in-the-wool media person, interested in using the Net to generate audiences, sell advertising or market products.
Unlike the venture capitalists and the carpet-bagging dotcommers, the new-media crowd came in from traditional publishing and marketing to populate the Internet as a media platform. These were the people present at the birth of what has become the “fourth medium” after print, radio and television.
So where is the fourth medium now? Arguably it’s taken a lot longer to arrive than many had hoped. Despite millions of people online, the revenues generated on the internet have been largely in the field of access and e-commerce. For media owners and publishers the pickings were rich while the funding and the flotations were there, but the advertising revenues – unless you are in the top 10 of websites visited – has been thinner than spider silk.
The reality is that online advertising’s share of the total British advertising market grew from 1.2 per cent or