IAB Engage 2012 morning session review

Guy Phillipson

Another sell-out for the IAB UK’s flagship annual event – Engage.

At a packed Barbican, including 500 advertisers, the audience is being treated to a plethora of wonderful insights from luminary speakers about how to transform their businesses through digital. And if that’s not enough, they’re treating themselves to popcorn, sweets and massages as well as indulging in some big screen xBox action and legal tagging (that’s graffiting to you and me).

Guy Phillipson, CEO, IAB: The UK spends the most per head on eCommerce; at 30%,UK digital holds a world record share of the advertising pie and 8.3% of UK GDP is generated by the digital industry. Guy started off Engage with a timely reminder of why digital should be intrinsically woven into the fabric of your business. 

Yet he sounded a note of caution – a wake-up call – only 40% of the UKs 100 biggest advertisers have mobile-optimised websites yet next year the majority of search clicks will come from mobiles.

Dick CostoloDick Costolo, CEO, Twitter: With previous history as an improvisation artist, Dick leapt into an impressive performance about Twitter’s popularity – half a billion Tweets per day, peaking at around 8,000 Tweets a second during the first hour of the US presidential live TV debate.

The single most important piece of advice for brands when using Twitter is having an authentic voice with a consistent tone –citing telecom giant O2 as a “fantastic” example of how to use it effectively.

He was keen to point out that Twitter does not complete with traditional media but enhances it. It’s like a caption that links to a deeper story. He cited the recent example of US Olympic broadcaster NBC receiving 36 year-high ratings, six hours after the events, after heavy tweeting about the results from viewers and athletes alike drove people to watch on TV.

So what is he most proud of about Twitter? The passion of the people within the company and how everyone is pulling in the same direction. Very rare for a CEO to oversee something as powerful as that.

Simon RogersSimon Rogers, Editor, Datablog and Datastore, The Guardian: Data has the power to transform the way you communicate your stories to audiences – particularly when done in a fun and interactive way.

Using examples of the UK riots and the Olympics, he showed how collecting dry and abstract data can be turned into incredibly engaging graphics and charts simply using free Google tools.

A visual heat map of the riot hotspots took 30 minutes to produce and was one of their most popular stories – hitting 1 million page impressions.

Mark HoweMark Howe, MD, Agency Operations Europe, Google: Google is working on three cutting-edge projects to push the boundaries of technology and see what comes out the other side. Google Fibre is aiming to transfer data at the speed of light, transforming broadband speed from around 6MBs to 1,000 MBs. Self-driving or “driverless” cars aiming to improve efficiency, reduce accidents and give people back more time. Google Glasses essentially give the functionality of a mobile phone in a pair of specs, so you don’t need to be looking down or touching a screen.

Mark then introduced a live digital experiment with the Cambridge Satchel Company to see how in the next few hours Google can transform the company’s SEO, analytics, mobile optimised site and social media tactics. Stay tuned, live results at 4:30…

Dave CoplinDave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer, Microsoft: Dave delivered a visionary style of thought from a company famous for operating systems. Search was a key theme and Dave challenged us to think that search is about doing not finding and if you do this you’re going to end up in a very different place.

Searching for a nearby sushi restaurant, for example, Dave knows he can be given 10 results but this is only relevance; he wants context such as the cheapest, the best.

So factoring the social graph into search - what our connections have done and thought –will lead him to the place he’ll spend his money.

Doug Conely, Senior Director, Global Data & Targeting, Exponential: Conely took the audience through an interesting practical about what big data actually is and how it can help transform your business' advertising - both targeting and creative - all in real time. Big data is about turning that data into information, then insight and, finally, action. It lacks power and effectiveness without the human touch throughout this process.

Steve Henry, Founder, Decoded: Henry outlined how coding is at the heart of the digital product, yet 99% of people don't know anything about it. Whilst it’s not essential for most of us to do our jobs, having some idea of how things work "under the bonnet" can help us be more productive and creative. Henry cited Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg who emailed all his employees on the day of the IPO telling them Facebook is a creative company, people shouldn't come to meetings with ideas in their heads or on paper - he wants to see prototypes.

Fru HazlittFru Hazlitt, MD Commercial, Online & Interactive, ITV: successfully harnessing digital is simply about understanding your business’ core offering – for ITV its content – and realising that digital provides more ways to deliver that offering. Consumer motivations haven’t changed, it’s just about providing more roads to reach their destination – people still vote, it’s just moved on from the postcard to text to the red button.

Of course, digital is a revolutionary way to tap into people’s basic needs – such as one’s opinions having impact - to provide a more compelling experience. Fru cited Mercedes’ ad during the Saturday X Factor where viewers could Tweet their desired outcome. This was then reflected in the ad shown on the Sunday programme. A simple example that captured the power of digital –engaging, immediate and interactive.