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Every now and then, the entire process producers go through to communicate with their consumers completely transforms. Indeed, this happened early in the twentieth century with the advent of national media and again in the mid twentieth century as commercial television took off, but now that we live in a world that is saturated in web 2.0, are those value making tables turning?

Anyone paying the least bit of attention during the last ten years could easily tell you that marketing has always been about the brand, and all those associations we tie to them. All those companies that wanted us, the consumer to do exactly that, to consume. It’s old fashioned textbook marketing at its best – messages that were all about the me, the I; the customer who was always in the dollar-sign shaped spotlight.

But something is happening. And on a wave made of web 2.0 we’re seeing marketing that wants to conform more to we than I or me. This has to do partly with the nature of web 2.0 itself; essentially a self-organising and thus inevitably creative undertaking of making stuff together, making it collectively – whether it’s Wikipedia, Twitter or LastFM. But this notion of embracing the collective has actually been seeping into marketing campaigns and indeed the design of Internet services for quite some time. The fact that there are now over ten million Amazon reviews says quite a lot about the state of co-marketing.

This ‘even newer new marketing’ (we’ll call it) is essentially co-operative or co-creative. Co-operative (as opposed to competition, according to our old friend game theory) in a sense of doing something for the group, rather than just our individual interests (and yes, sometimes that’s even the best thing for individuals too). The online world eBay is a perfect example, being a site that always relies on mutual trust and feedback ratings – proving that looking after everyone is better for ‘everyone’ than simply looking after number one. In other words, brands must be seen to share, rather than manipulate consumer’s passions and emotions as they once did.

But it’s also like a good co-creative system really preserves individual initiative, yet still maintains a shared and collective goal. The real gain of co-creation seems to stem from the notion that it’s not necessarily working from the average wisdom of a community, but rather the individual talent that lies there – those millions of columnists and editors (or might we say bloggers) assimilating and disseminating their own take on what’s going on. It’s as though the capacity for talent and mutual quality control co-creative or open source systems call for, outstrip anything the corporate model could ever deliver. Those active contributors will probably learn more from writing their own version of the news than they ever did when the elite few covered it. And the result of all this? Undoubtedly a more openly flexible, progressive and intelligent global information system.

Writer: Jonathan Young
Location: Oxford, UK
Jonathan Young is a recent marketing graduate from Oxford Brookes University. When he is not playing entrepreneur, Jonathan enjoys exploring the infinite depths of the In n Out secret menu and meticulously organizing his life into all time top five lists. He has a web presence at Look Ma, No Hands!

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