Digital Britain Conference Summary

On the back of the IAB’s third Digital Britain Conference in Manchester, the IAB's Online Content & Communications Executive, Brad Moss, has summarised the key themes from the day.

Brad Moss

Last Thursday the IAB headed up to the wonderful city of Manchester for its third Digital Britain conference. With a crowd of agencies and brands, the room was ready for a day insight and ‘Human Nature’ – which was aptly the theme of the conference.

Joanna Parnell and Emma Slate from MEC Manchester encouraged us to embrace the chaos in human behaviour and make sure we know our influences. Did you know that all of us receive approximately 5000 messages per day and out of these only 1% are noticed and 1% are retained?

They stated that behaviour changes between the ‘passive’ stage (the thinking of which brand) of being a consumer and the ‘active’ stage (the point of purchase.) Indeed, in the ‘passive stage’ 46% of people in the UK have a brand in mind and half of those will change their mind in the active stage. It’s how to capture those ‘active’ consumers that we need to think about. How can we choose to fly ‘Ryanair’ rather that ‘British Airways’, how can the consumer buy ‘Heineken’ rather than ‘Carlsberg?’

Manning Gottlieb OMD’s Katie Maclennan informed us that it is Important that brands that are creative and innovative and suggested that personalisation was a good example of how to do this. She gave examples of Coca Cola personalising a digital coke bottle whilst the user was on 40d, ‘This Girl Can’, empowering women to take up sports by Sport England and Virgin Holidays virtual holidays. As Quantcast’s Amit Kotecha claimed ‘online ads don’t often need a call for action, they can be a story as well. ‘

Asda’s Head of Digital Marketing Nick Bamber stated during the conference “digital is influencing people to do what you want them to do! He suggested that digital strategy starts with data and insights to unlock who companies can target and goes into what the consumer needs and wants. However, as InSkin Media’s Evan Russell and Sebastian Schindler stated said the ‘industry is annoying people.’ It is clear that with the rise in ad blocking, people are fed up with bad adverts. InSkin Media suggest that brands must understand their context i.e. as they exemplified, don’t advertise beer when looking at kids toy websites.

Data was a topic that was mentioned throughout the day. Havas Media’s Mark Varley commented that the ‘world is dominated by algorithms’ and that ‘machines make better data.’ Kotecha argued that ‘proactive data towards creative can help inform’ whilst Bamber commented that ‘data is your best friend.’ It is therefore clear that successful digital advertising needs to use data to get the best out of the consumer.

Furthermore, how we consume that data, however, is clearly changing. According to Facebook’s Oliver Sewell, 45% of global video views are now on mobile devices, whilst 3 trillion photos were created in 2015. This enhances Tumblr’s Jay Kingsley-Brooks quote that ‘content is changing.’ We were joined by Audio Experts’ Steve Huthwaite and Tim Cowland who gave the audience an insight into the power of audio. They claimed that 65% of digital listening is through headphones and that 20 million people listen to headphones everyday, clearly an example of the ever changing digital sphere of digital.

Concluding the day, Havas’ Mark Varley brought back the theme of human nature to the table. He stated that tech is allowing us to do more with human nature, however, that will only change our abilities. Human nature in itself will never change.

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