Partnership, collaboration and the brave new world of media and marketing in the technology era

This post is by Fay Miller, Marketing Director, International at The Exchange Lab.

We've only just begun was the theme for the 10th anniversary of IAB Engage where the media, marketing and digital digiratzi assembled. Digital is in a state of disruption, the traditional media model is in a state of flux and marketing continues to collide and overlap with technological innovation. This is all happening at speed and it's the pace of change that almost everyone seems to be struggling to keep up with. It was the one thing every speaker seemed to agree on, that and how it's only going to get faster.

Industry leaders Google and WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell as well as Havas spoke about working in partnership with technology companies, there was a sense that the market is starting to embrace collaboration on a wider scale. Eileen Naughton, Managing Director, UK at Google talked about partner API's that allowed them to connect with interactive billboard screens throughout London known as Google outside.

WPP and Havas both talked openly about their focus on partnerships with technology companies to bring together the experts in each field and in the case of WPP, this will fuel the growth that they require. It seems that agencies are starting to focus on applying rather than developing technology and sticking to what they do best. In a recent article in The Economist, Curtis Houghland, the boss of Attention, said he advises clients not to sign contracts for more than six months because the technology is changing so fast.

The really interesting insights focused around the changing nature of media and marketing and the challenges facing marketers. John Lewis waved the flag for digitally enlightened brands. While their brand values have stayed the same for 150 years they say it is technology that has changed the way they communicate with customers. Their customer-centric strategy employs technology to enhance their brand experience both on and off line. Lloyd Page, head of online marketing, spoke about using virtual reality to enhance in-store experiences through OculusRift. A customer shopping within the furniture department will be able to use a headset to visualise how the piece might look in their living room. John Lewis believes that virtual reality and the in-store experience will collide. They have partnered with companies to enhance their mobile offering and have invested in click and collect, where you place the order online and collect it from your local store, to bridge the gap between online and offline retail.

As the first to implement the value of the 'multi-stack' verses the 'single stack' marketing solution , It was refreshing to hear Paul Frampton, CEO of Havas talk about how agencies need to respond to the changing media and marketing environment proving it's not just clients that are re-adjusting their thinking. He outlined how agencies risk becoming obsolete unless they embrace change, he said a shift needs to happen from cost to value within advertising.

We have long believed in the merits of bringing together industry specialists working across different media channels. What we call multi-platform, they call a meta DSP but fundamentally it's about working with the best technology partners and investing in talent to run the analysis and trading. It's good to hear an agency readjusting their perspective and banging the drum for choice and client value. If Havas want to position themselves to compete with management consultants, which is what Paul Frampton shared on stage, this is the language they need to employ.

With media agencies facing the biggest wave of change in their history, technology is changing their place in the ecosystem as well as advertisers' demands. It was against this backdrop that Martin Sorrell discussed the threats coming from China, political instability and macro-economic factors but for media agencies the threats are surely much closer to home. By focusing on the threats of the future and external pressures rather than their internal vision, one which Google and Microsoft sold in so eloquently, it left us with more questions than answers.

Sorrell's call for businesses to increase their investments in marketing and advertising in order to drive growth in an uncertain global economy, will have been music to most marketer's ears. In terms of the big titans, it seems that Google is still trying to change the world, Microsoft is trying to code it and WPP is trying to conquer it. What's our vision for the future? Programmatic. It's the technology that will underpin and connect all of the media and marketing systems of the future and as such it's our vision. The Exchange Lab is driving the programmatic revolution to connect media and marketing to technology.

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