Leadership Summit 2022: Day One, afternoon

Posted on Thursday 10 March 2022 | IAB UK

We heard from speakers including Snap Inc.'s General Manager, Ed Couchman, Google's Head of Communications, Charlotte Morton and Deputy Political Editor of The Spectator, Katy Balls

First up after lunch, Chloe Nicholls, our new Head of Ad Tech, sat down with Niel Bornman, Chief Products & Services Officer at GroupM and Irin Rahman, Chief Data & Digital Officer at PHD Media. They discussed the challenges facing digital ad measurement, and how their roles have redefined the way agencies speak to clients about the issue.  

Both agreed there has been a realignment of past practices to ensure strategies are more in tune with individual business goals. Rahman referenced the old adage ‘fail fast, learn fast’ and the need to keep testing, changing and understanding measurement and establishing the best mix for every individual client.

Meanwhile, Bornman touched on the importance of experience, rather than education, when it comes to recruitment: “We need people with the experience to understand what’s possible, who can then create the new data and insights for a business. Experience trumps education: unless you’ve got the battle scars, it’s hard to know how to make measurement applicable in a business context.”


Agency panel


Opening with a picture of Tim Berners-Lee - “the founding father of the World Wide Web”- Snap Inc.’s Ed Couchman told the audience at Leadership Summit that we need to look to “the future of the amazing technology that Tim has given us and consider the questions that we have to ask ourselves to prepare for it”. In a departure from the “move fast and break things” ethos of the early days of the internet, Couchman asked “how can we use the experience of the first wave - the optimism and the response to reality from companies like Snap - to help us ask the right questions and make sure we anticipate better what’s coming next?”  

He drew our attention to five key areas “which might help us frame the conversations we need to have about the future, in order to avoid some of the mistakes of the past", including: measures to promote safety online; protection of people’s privacy; building inclusivity into business and platforms; using purpose to prepare for the unknown; and finding untapped potential for new technologies - and how it can be best applied to the real world. 

Couchman was followed on stage by Damon Lafford, Senior Director of Global Client Development at The Trade Desk, in a fireside chat with Sarah Mansfield, VP Global Media at Unilever, to discuss the possibility of ‘a great marketing rebound’ and what we can all do to help drive the open web.

A passionate argument from Sarah was that not enough is being talked about around data ethics, as she urged delegates to consider not just what they ‘can’ do with data but what they ‘should’ do with data. She said: “It is the collective possibility of everyone in this room to build out a better, trusted, more sustainable ecosystem. What are you doing around data privacy and data ethics? What are you doing to support a more diverse ecosystem? We don’t have a future in the advertising profession unless we do these things.”

Sarah also spoke about how important the open web is to Unilever and its brands’ advertising objectives, not just through the creation of a trusted publisher network but also for its ability to allow brands to invest in a diverse internet ecosystem. She explained: “20% of GDP in Europe comes from minority segments of the population and yet people think of more reasons not to put them on a plan than to put them on it. Making sure minority voices are heard and supporting minority publications is a hugely important aspect of the open web.”


Clare Griffiths


Up next, Clare Griffiths, British Wheelchair Basketball Player & Paralympian, joined us to share her story and what she has learnt about both resilience and leadership. Having dislocated her back at the age of 18 in an accident that left her paralysed from the waist down, Griffiths channelled her competitiveness to getting out of hospital within four months - setting herself challenges and celebrating small successes in order to achieve what had initially seemed like an unachievable goal.  

Later, having joined the British Women’s Basketball team, Griffiths competed at the London 2012 Paralympics, where she says “we got things wrong”. The experience made her realise “how important wellbeing is as leaders” and the importance of “having the right performance environment”. Following 2012, and with a new coach in place, the team focused on rebuilding their confidence, prioritising wellbeing and reframing the experience to develop a new game plan built on resilience. Ultimately, Griffiths has rediscovered a “can do” mindset and encouraged the audience to consider the challenges we face within the industry in order to identify opportunities where we can make a difference.


Charlotte Morton


Unlocking the power of doubt in an age where everyone believe they are right was the basis of Charlotte Morton’s session, Head of Brand Communications at Google. “Doubt is a beautiful human attribute that we don’t make enough of”, Morton explained, embodied by Google’s ‘Year of Search’ which holds an annual mirror up to the most searched questions on the platform. 

This formed the basis for its campaign, ‘The more we learn, the closer we get’, which brings to life the joy of doubt and the fact that “people are coming to Google because there is a freedom to ask questions without judgement”. Narrated by Marcus Rashford, the film is not what you might expect from a tech platform, but as Morton explained, “embracing doubt has made us more empathetic”. 


Katy Balls


Rounding up the first day of Leadership Summit, The Spectator’s Deputy Political Editor, Katy Balls, opened her session talking about the “complete change in the mood of Westminster” since the invasion of Ukraine. With the world “potentially looking at months or years of conflict in Ukraine" no one is currently talking about party-gate or No.10’s decorating bills. Balls explained that while the Government is currently trying to “create a Falklands moment” and reinvent Boris Johnson as a “statesman-like figure”, the rising cost of living is going to make what was set to be a difficult period anyway even worse. That is “going to effect the kind of leader that Boris Johnson can be” at home, while Balls also reminded delegates that - on the world stage - “it is really out of the UK’s control as to what is going to happen” with the Ukraine conflict. 

With Johnson’s focus over the next few months set to be shoring up support within Government by appealing to the right-wing of the Tory party, Balls said that this will see him come under pressure to interfere less in people’s lives, potentially impacting planned regulation of digital advertising. 

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