MEC's head of digital strategy Matt Bell summarises his five key take-outs from AdWeek Europe that will affect agencies from some of the digital-focused sessions at the event.
1. Less chat about 'Big Data', more 'algorithms'
"Big Data is like teenage sex" – everyone is talking about it, everyone says they are doing it all the time. But no-one is actually doing it because they don't know how. The winners in data will be those that use the data through predictive science, David Rothschild, Microsoft's research economist explained, while predictive science is being used to some extent in advertising, we've "stopped at phase one". Even though it is in its infancy, predictive science will only become an increasingly broader, valuable planning tool.
But there were debates about the privacy concerns that arise from data management allowing us to move from segmentation planning to audience planning. There is a need to 'enchant' vs. 'stalk' with messaging, and also realise that customers are beginning to understand the value of their data.
2. However, algorithms will not be 'all powerful' – they are only as strong as the questions that get asked into them and the insights that get mined from them
With the rise of the algorithm-fuelled BuzzFeed, Upworthy and Huffington Post, coupled with the changing Guardian homepage, there were multiple debates about the future role of the editor. The general conclusion is that there is a need for editors more than ever before; partly because of choice paralysis. The book Filter Bubble explains how search was meant to open the World Wide Web for us but, instead, only 5% of us click through to page two. We need help in curating the right content, and publishers need editorial guidance in not just curating, but in monetising that content.
3. "Programmatic is the prettiest girl at this year's ball" (Executive director of Ad Week Europe)
The hottest topic – because "it works for advertisers and it works for publishers" (AOL MD), but there are still no clear predictions as to whether all advertising will be traded programmatically within two or five or ten years, or never.
"Right now, 15-20% of all display advertising is programmatic. It's forecast to be half of all display within two years. This means the market is growing up, it's moving into its teenage years, meaning it's going through an unpredictable phase, but it's growing up extremely quickly." (AOL MD)
4. Mobile as the key to the largest challenge: attribution between on and offline
Platform integration: ITV announced it would be the first major UK broadcaster to sign up for Twitter Amplify. Essentially this means that advertisers will be able to advertise alongside ITV video content on the social network, including pre and post-roll ads within video in ITV tweets, customised hashtags and in-video banner ads.
Technology integration: Mark Cody, senior group marketing manager for mobile at Tesco, revealed that a beta version of Tesco's MyStore app is trialing iBeacons. Cody said the prospect of walking past a product and getting a mobile marketing message could scare customers, so initially the iBeacons will send customers a message when they go in-store to collect pre-ordered goods.
5. Businesses strategy is focusing on building a culture of flexibility and speed
Coca-Cola is tasking MediaCom to get faster, nothing has to be perfect but it has to have pace. They are looking at how data can free admin to increase time for creativity. Justin King (Sainsbury's CEO) believes there are no easy shortcuts, but you have to be flexible and move fast.
Mark Howe, MD for agency sales at Google, said: "We're all constantly thinking into the future, rather than thinking incrementally. If you're only incremental, then you're falling behind immediately." He added that, last year, Google made 1,100 changes to its search business. "You've got to be working fast – if not [the next big thing] will come from someone's garage and take over."
As we know, the challenge comes in managing this pace. Mark Given, Sainsbury's head of brand communications, claimed the rise of mobile and social media has created 'expectations' among consumers that brands must deliver 'real-time' communications 'dayin, day-out'. In the retail space, their business moves so fast that "about 70% of decisions we take are data-less. The mindset we've tried to adopt is you're a publisher, not a brand marketer. That always-on attitude helps you to take those decisions."