The IAB UK’s third Leadership Summit: Day one

Industry leaders highlighted the need for creativity and collaboration whilst balancing short and long-term goals.

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Read the highlights from day two of the Leadership summit

Jon Mew, CEO of the IAB UK, welcomed delegates to the third Leadership Summit, highlighting the unique position that the IAB enjoys in that it can bring people together to achieve things that they couldn’t do alone. He also pointed out that 60 companies have already registered for the IAB’s Gold Standard accreditation. “If the issues [in digital advertising] are created by us then the issues can be fixed by us,” he said.

And, to this end, in his keynote presentation, Unilever’s Nathan Cook, Global Director of Advertising Innovation, pointed out that a sustainable approach to digital is absolutely key. He encouraged the industry to focus on sustainability and the long-term whilst always being mindful of user experience.

Next, Nick Hugh, CEO of The Telegraph, warned that the greatest asset of any publishing house is trust, declaring that journalism is more necessary than ever before. He also extolled the benefits of the premium publisher’s registration-first strategy which he said significantly enhances its content as well as its partnerships, with market-wide collaboration helping to ‘scale’ the opportunities.

Finlay Clark, UK Country Manager from navigation app Waze, took a look at where we are headed in the world of cars, transport and cities. Predicting that cars will become the second biggest media hub after homes, he described how Waze has built a sustainable advertising model and outlined some of the many ways it has leveraged machine learning and the power of its community to benefit society. 

And, in an era in which trust in ads has declined, Lucy Jameson, founder of Uncommon London, stressed the importance of leveraging empathy to build brands which people genuinely care about. Like many speakers over the course of the day, she also warned against prioritising efficiency over effectiveness, but ended on a positive note by recognising some ‘brilliant stuff, led by people who really get the platforms’. 

A panel discussion led by the IAB UK’s Interim COO Jane McNeill focused in particular on mobile location data and how this can be used to better understand audiences. During this debate, Winnie Palmer, Director of Digital Demand Centre at Hewlett Packard Enterprise identified the opportunity to use location data for lead generation purposes while Ian James, General Manager, International at Verve, pointed to a trend of using location data to unlock value via insights. But once again, according to Catherine Morgan, Director of Ocean Labs at Ocean Outdoor, the key to advertising success is ensuring relevance without being intrusive.

Next, Donna Birkett Baida, VP Marketing EMEA at Disney Channels, explained how understanding audiences is crucial. Pointing out that Disney was ‘born from a mouse that dared to dream’, her advice was to start with an audience lense and then bring creative ideas to the table based on big insights that really resonate.

And, after what was widely regarded as difficult 2017 for digital advertising, Google’s Country Sales Director, Matt Bush, said that, in a context of declining trust, it is important not to forget some of the great things digital does in terms of transforming lives. What enables a free and open web, he said, is advertising. He admitted that there is still much work to do to agree on standards around measurement – an issue which was grappled during the Town Hall sessions which also included workshops focused on diversity, branded content, transparency and the imminent GDPR legislation.

In her thought-provoking presentation, Natalie Bell, Managing Director of media agency Manning Gottlieb OMD underscored the importance of always asking ourselves ‘why’. She returned to some themes from earlier in the day, such as the need to consider long-term goals and to drive innovation which delivers on what customers actually want. 

And finally, David Smith, Economics Editor at The Sunday Times, considered the outlook for business in a volatile and unpredictable world. He pointed out that although the global economy is currently enjoying its best spell since the financial crisis, continued political uncertainty in the UK has led to a squeeze for consumers and continued caution from businesses.

Of course, in this context it is more important than ever to work towards solutions that will deliver a sustainable and exciting future for those in the business of digital communications.

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