The IAB UK’s third Leadership Summit: Day two

Nigel Gilbert, VP, strategic development, EMEA at AppNexus, kicked off day two of the IAB UK’s Leadership Summit with a call to action for the industry to ensure trust and transparency, which he said were ‘the keys to growth’. 

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Read the highlights from day one of the Leadership Summit

With sustainability again a recurring theme of the day, he entreated those in the business of digital advertising to avoid too much short-termism. 

Andy Sandoz, Deloitte Digital’s UK Chief Creative Officer then took to the stage with an eloquent and provocative plea to the industry to embrace change and its associated challenges. He reiterated the need for human creativity alongside the application of technology. 

Liz Brandt, CEO at Ctrl-Shift, challenged delegates to question perceived thinking, saying that instead of perceiving GDPR as a villain, it could be described as a ‘hero.’ She pointed to massive opportunity in the burgeoning personal data economy, arguing that given the rise of ad blocking, unwanted targeted advertising is the real villain. 

Barnaby Dawe, global CMO at Just Eat, again took up the theme of a need to find the right balance between data and creativity. Data drives the Just Eat business, but a ‘forensic’ understanding of customers is key. Dawe also warned against letting data ‘overshadow’ creativity. 

A panel session on diversity followed, led by Ali Hanan, founder and CEO of Creative Equals. The speakers provided a very convincing case to the benefits of hiring a diverse workforce. Kate Gilbert, Genius Within’s head of business development; Pip Jamieson, founder and CEO, The Dots; and Roxanne Hobbs, founder of The Hobbs Consultancy all described how neurodiversity has not yet been fully explored, nor the potential benefits for workforces recognised.  

Delegates were urged to foster truly inclusive working environments, with the panel warning that traditional interview and recruitment screening processes can fail to identify talent. What’s more, the panel discussed how initiatives like flexible working, quiet zones and a ‘strengths-based’ approach to personal development can benefit everybody.

Twitter’s VP, EMEA, Bruce Daisley, later returned to the topic of how to create happy and productive work environments. He warned that fear kills creativity and stressed the importance of focusing on output rather than input. 

Turning email notifications off your phone; sleeping more; reclaiming your lunchbreak; and even getting happier friends are just some of the things that can be done to boost productivity, he added, before pointing out that employers must also allow people the space to be themselves. 

According to Daisley – who has analysed much of the available data in this area – workplace chat and connection also correlates to an uplift in productivity and, while flexible working patterns are largely beneficial, an office which acts as a central hub is also a good thing.  

Meanwhile, Nick Wrenn, EMEA head of news partnerships at Facebook, explained the reasons behind the platform’s renewed focus on what he described as meaningful social interactions. He said this decision was made in order to optimise the experience for its users and that, as a result, their time on Facebook will be better spent as a result. He also reiterated the need to champion quality news.  

In another session after lunch, Anita Caras, director, sales insights EMEA at Oath, revealed a number of insightful findings from its large-scale research around the drivers that build brand love. Brand love is generated when brands exceed expectations, she said, again coming back to the need to take a long-term approach – via brands which set trends, build trust, share values, elevate experiences and respect consumers.  

And with ‘wild’ volatility all around us, for the relatively short term at least, Steve Richards, political columnist and broadcaster, spoke about the importance of leadership in an era of dramatic change. It is impossible to predict what will happen over the coming weeks and months, he said. But the IAB UK’s Jon Mew again stressed that by collaborating and working together positively, the industry can make huge strides even in this era of unprecedented uncertainty. 

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