IAB UK Leadership Summit 2020: Day Two

Posted on Tuesday 24 August 2021 | IAB UK

Day two of Leadership Summit opened with an overview of the changing advertising and media landscape from Douglas McCabe, CEO and Director of Publishing and Tech at Enders Analysis. Comparing the past decade with what's to come, McCabe discussed the evolving role of identity in our industry. With the 2020s set to be “The regulatory decade”, we need to look at identity through a broader lens, rather than just as data points. As McCabe put it: “We’re all people with complex and social identities.”

As we move into a new decade, sustainability also needs to be centre stage - both in terms of the industry and the planet. To achieve the former, “all parts of the value chain need to be focused on delighting real people”, McCabe said. As an industry we have a responsibility to consider “what kind of advertising, what kind of media and what kind of society we wish to deliver in 10 years’ time”. 


Next, Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE, Team GB Hockey Gold Medalist and Former Captain, delivered an inspiring talk on how she and her teammates created a winning culture where “people can thrive and be their best selves”. Having gone from being at the bottom of the league table to winning an Olympic gold medal at Rio in 2016, Richardson-Walsh highlighted the fundamental role culture plays when it comes to performance: “I had no idea how important culture was until we lost it… we could all sense it but couldn't grasp it.”

From sharing values, behaviour statements and, perhaps most importantly, personal vulnerabilities and super-strengths, Richardson-Walsh and her team were able to “get the best out of every single person for the good of the collective”. Difference and diversity is central to this, Richardson-Walsh explained, while acknowledging that women’s hockey has work to do when it comes to improving diversity: “Difference enabled us to thrive… we need to leverage difference and use it as a strength.” 

Kate Richardson-Walsh

Machine learning was on the agenda next, with Facebook’s Communications Planning Director Ian Edwards giving delegates an insight into how Facebook are using it and asking whether machines can ever truly replicate human creativity. From performance marketing to customer services, Edwards said that while machine learning needs to be given room to work, it also requires “a moral framework created by people” in which to operate. 

On the question of creativity, Edwards asked the audience: “Is there something special about being human that means it can never be replicated in code?” In his view, “AI can break us free from silos, show us new things and push us into new areas of creativity” if we work with it and harness it effectively. “So yes, the robots are coming for our marketing jobs and I think we need to get excited by it”. 

Facebook speaking

A panel discussion on how we build a diverse industry and bridge the digital skills gap followed, with IAB UK’s Director of Campaigns Sophia Haynes being joined on stage by Jasmine Dotiwala, Head of Youth at Media Trust, Dara Nasr, Managing Director at Twitter UK and Sania Qaisar, BBC Broadcast Assistant and Creativity Works Alumni. Haynes opened by saying that while Leadership Summit is all about addressing the key challenges and identifying the opportunities in digital advertising, “we can’t fix any of that unless we have the right talent getting into the industry”. 

With IAB UK’s recent research showing that 88% claim it’s a challenge to find qualified individuals with up-to-date digital skills, Nasr said that part of the problem is that the industry isn’t necessarily looking in the right places: “Not a lot of people growing up think they want to go into media or planning, so how do we get that message out there?” 

Media Trust plays a central role in addressing this, including via the Creativity Works programme that helped Qaisar overcome both cultural and educational barriers to pursue a new career. As Dotiwala pointed out: “Businesses want content marketers and young people are creating content all the time, they know how to create clickable content and optimise… it’s about identifying and transferring those skills from their personal brand to your business”.

Closing the session, Qaisar said that the industry needs to create more diverse workforces. “Advocating and practicing diversity are two very different things”, she said. “Big corporations are still making mistakes in their advertising in 2020 because they don’t have the right people in the room. Nothing will change until we change.” 

Media Trust

In the penultimate session of the day, Danny Clayman, Managing Director and VP at Xandr, examined the convergence of digital and TV. Consumer habits moving away from immersive, linear consumption presents real progression and opportunity for advertisers, he said. As that convergence takes pace, he posed some answers to how buyers and sellers enjoy more holistic visibility. 

With consumers in an “on-demand mindset” the advertising also needs to be on their terms - and in the right circumstances they understand the value exchange and don’t mind advertising. Recent research found that 89% of consumers prefer an ad-funded internet than paying for online services while 79% feel great when a brand helps them find a product they didn’t know they needed.

So what does the convergent platform of the future look like? Clayman says a holistic solution that takes the best from both digital and TV is both needed and possible and left the delegates at Leadership Summit with some tips for moving towards that.

To round off Leadership Summit 2020, Kate Rowlinson, CEO of MediaCom was joined on stage by Tesco’s Marketing and Communications Director Emma Botton to share how they get the best results for their businesses through whole brain thinking. Rowlinson explained that with “both left and right brain thinking working together in beautiful company”, companies attract better talent, grow faster and improve their creativity. 

So what does that mean for MediaCom and Tesco’s agency-client partnership? With two MediaCom data people embedded in Tesco offices, breaking down silos is essential, said Rowlinson and if data fuels creativity, the focus moves away from just the “what?” and towards the “so what?”

A whole brained team has no silos between data, technology and creativity, Botton said.

Tesco makes data available to everyone who is being asked to problem-solve “regardless of the project, regardless of their responsibility and regardless of their expertise.” Examples shared including Easter lamb (or not lamb, as the data may show), nostalgia for 10p Freddos and festive llamas… In wrapping up, IAB UK CEO Jon Mew said “If all of the world operated in the way you do, we’d be in a much better place”. 

IAB UK CEO closed the event by asking the leaders in the room “what do we want to be remembered for as an industry?” Returning to the theme of his opening speech about having pride, he said that both in the short and long term there is a massive benefit to building an industry we feel proud of. “Change is happening, and only by leaning into that change and working together will we be ready.”

Revisit the first day of sessions here.

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