IAB Engage 2012 afternoon session review


After a mind-blowing morning of inspirational speakers and discussion on transforming businesses for digital, the audience sat down to enjoy an afternoon of enlightenment and comedy.

Tim ElkingtonTim Elkington, Director of Research and Strategy, IAB introduced the afternoon sessions of IAB Engage and used the chance to highlight findings from the IAB / LBi Social Business Survey which showed that 55% of UK organisations have adapted their business strategies to become more social.

Jon Mew, Director of Mobile and Operations, IAB: Mew inspired the audience with his ‘storytime’ presentation showcasing some wonderful creative examples of brands that have transformed their advertising campaigns into interactive experiences using digital. The examples he presented were, Band-Aid’s campaign using augmented reality to engage children with The Muppets, free cans of Grolsch through silent policeman Journt Von Degg, budget airline JetBlue’s Getaways with Mark Hammound and the interactive Christmas tree powered by by festive cheer from the Canadian Tire. Mew also carried out a live interactive demo using the ‘Dan Deacon’ app, literally lighting up the auditorium.

Nick LansleyNick Lansley, Head of R&D, Tesco: as a traditional bricks and mortar retailer, the challenge is to transform the business using digital. This has been achieved by bringing online and mortar offlinr closer together. The “clicks and bricks” philosophy mixes the best elements of both to provide a richer experience for their customer.

Lansley cited an example of DVD purchasers getting access to unlock a free digital copy through partner Blinkbox; virtual “scanning” stores at Gatwick airport; and new “click and collect” drive-thru’s at Tesco stores so customers can pick up online orders when they want, without having to wait for delivery slots.

Lansley said, ‘Within a business, digital innovation and transformation is about managing up as much as it is managing across and down’.

Matthew TurnerMatthew Turner, Director, Online Sales and Marketing, BSkyB: Turner discussed the need to embrace failure as ‘it’s an intrinsic part of success’.The companies who succeed are the ones who embrace this and aren’t afraid to fail as they know they’ll learn from it’ argued Turner Hecited Sky’s own failure with Sky Songs but future successes with other content delivery initiatives such as Sky Go.

He also mentioned American Express – an 162 year old financial service company – doing tie-ups with extremely modern brands such as Twitter and Foursquare on the back of failing with a personalised online credit card targeted at young consumers.

What are the three things that these successes had in common? Executive level support, significant investment and a willingness to take risks.

Ajaz AhmedAjaz Ahmed, Founder & Chairman, AKQA: following on from Turner’s theme, Ahmed said ‘argued ‘Successful companies look at innovation without being fixated on a specific outcome as they know they will learn a lot to take to future projects’.

Again he talked about not being afraid, referencing Richard Branson who wrote the foreword in Ahmed’s book stating “Change is often seen as a threat to normal people but to the entrepreneur, its oxygen.”

Ahmed reiterated that digital isn’t about technology, it’s about ideas and how it helps create an emotional resonance with audiences. He referenced that AKQA take on a different measurement and evaluation approach and ‘when assessing the success of our digital campaigns we look at sales growth, shareholder value and brand equity. Metrics like click-throughs and impressions are ignored.’

Rory SutherlandRory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy Group: Sutherland took to the stage in a somewhat dapper outfit and began his interview with IAB’s CEO, Guy Phillipson by stating ‘one of the key transformations digital has brought to the advertising business is bringing in more scientific and ‘geekier’ people who have a different perspective on how it should work’.

He argued: ‘Digital has also led to a blurring between marketing and innovation; British Airways, for example, is using Ogilvy, traditionally an ad agency, for both disciplines. Fundamentally, as an industry, we need to understand people better before we can implement technology in a more productive way – take electronic cigarettes and Google’s self-driving cars: mass take-up of these are not due to technology problems, they’ve been built and work, they are marketing problems.’

Peter DuffyPeter Duffy, Marketing Director, Easyjet: Duffy said ‘Digital is at the epicentre of three key objectives of the business – attracting the greatest volume of customers, improving conversions and making the most of existing customers.

He explained how fundamental digital has been to helping them spend as little as possible from a marketing perspective but maximising the ROI to drive sales and shareholder value.

Duffy said, ‘it’s not rocket science, it’s about testing and testing and grinding out conversions.’

Mark HoweMark Howe #2, Google: Google’s Mark Howe returned to the stage to show how the blue jump suited Googlers had helped the Cambridge Satchel Company create a mobile and tablet optimised site, build their first display campaign and develop their social media profile in just 6 hours.

Howe reiterated the need to act quickly and just get on with doing it – there’s too much chat in organisations, not enough action.

Dave Gorman, comedian, author and broadcaster: Gorman admitted to being a digital native, admitting he has been editing his own website personally for years. He values the purity of the internet as a communication medium that enables and enhances conversation and connection in ‘real’ life.

However, he has concerns about the authenticity of the web – particularly around news and social media, as marketers try to ‘game the system’ to encourage measurable behaviours such as likes, retweets and comments.

These behaviours are meaningless when stimulated and it should be left as something which manifests itself organically to maintain the authenticity and power of the web. Gorman closed the day on a high, humouring the audience throughout his interview with his frequent jibes and cheeky comments.