IAB Engage 2018 Perspectives – No.1

Adam Saunders and Alex Hyndman

Entering the busy Barbican centre on Thursday morning for the IAB Engage event there was a mix of agencies, media owners, clients and tech partners keen to understand the future of the industry and how we can best set ourselves up for success.

The event was kicked off with Unilever’s CMCO Keith Weed being interviewed on his take on the industry, and how it moves forward. He was keen to point out that before moving forward we need to “take stock of where we are to understand key areas of focus”. Trust has collapsed these past two years, specifically in our industry within social media, this was emphasised by public trust in TV standing at 59% while social media is just 39%, a significant gap. He believes that to move forward we need to push for the 3 V’s (viewability, verification, value), while ensuring everything we do is responsible, from the content we create to the infrastructure we use or build. Our industry behaving irresponsibly isn’t just bad for us, it’s bad for society.

Keith went on to speak about two key challenges in the future; integrating fragmented media channels to build a coherent brand voice and personality to deliver an integrated campaign and representing woman in advertising. Keith spoke about how “truly representing women in advertising not only helps deliver better advertising but challenges society on stereotypes and gender which has been prevalent for too long”.

Perhaps the most striking comments centred around the future of agencies. Keith believes we need to move much faster than we are, reinventing ourselves to provide new services to meet the challenges clients face. There’s never been a better or more exciting time to be in the industry and those who seize the opportunity to simplify complexity, create fit-for-purpose models and break down the barriers of the walled gardens to create one measurement system will survive and thrive.

Next up was Claire Enders from Enders Analysis, a research organisation which looks at the advertising industry and the current economic climate. She spoke about how the UK is many years away from a mature market for digital advertising, the “winners of this market will be companies that have data and know how to use it”. She believes data only makes a big difference if you earn it, own it and control it which means the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon are set up for dominance.

Claire spoke about how TV is still the core channel for branding and reach, and will remain so, chiefly because it’s cheap, effective and there is a very high-quality TV culture within the UK. This is emphasised with an ageing population and a wealthier older age group – those over 43 are now the main wealth owners in the UK and they represent the largest group of consumers. She went on to say, “YouTube is likely to challenge TV, but she believes the Government will look to place similar restrictions or control on YouTube by 2020 as YouTube will be the same size as Channel 4”.

Billy Corbyn, UK Head & Creative Director, Unskippable Labs at Google, was next up to talk about the unskippable future of advertising. He spoke about the internet becoming a “utility that both consumers and advertising take for granted which will take the digital industry into a world of predictability”. He went on to say that to achieve attentive reach online using a story built for digital is key, using TV creative online doesn’t work and we need a more data driven approach.

There were a couple of sessions on the future of digital marketing, one by Simon Gosling who is a futurist at Unruly and one was from Tom Goodwin head of innovation at Zenith. Simon spoke about how advertising will always be here, but “before the brand was in control by telling the story, now we’re in a story sharing phase where consumers have the power”. For brands to have a relationship with consumers they must deliver a useful and active experience that consumers will share. Tom spoke about how the only thing that changes faster than the rate of technology is our expectations of tech and “agencies will need to completely reinvent themselves to serve millennial clients”.