The final day dawned for the very first AdWeek Europe as I found myself squished on the tube commute in order to cram in some final sessions. The stars, or shall I say, the trains were aligned allowing me to arrive early and get myself sufficiently caffeinated for frenzied typing on my Ipad Mini to deliver the summaries of the sessions. Many thanks to those who have taken the time to give me feedback on how they appreciate these summaries. As you may have guessed, I was the diligent student in lectures at university, taking thorough notes (often in different coloured pens) and then happily handing them over to certain charming classmates who took full advantage of my nerdy diligence. Oh, to think of how many more parties certain classmates were able to attend thanks to me!
I was eagerly looking forward to the first session I attended on Agency Trading Desks titled "Guaranteed Delivery? The 1st Annual Real Time Trading Update from Europe's Buy Side in London". This session was moderated from Jay Sears (Rubicon Project) who showed excellent preparation for his panel. For starters, the attendees with photos and twitter handles were on a slide (this is especially helpful to me as half the time the intro round goes too fast and I'm left trying to track who said what).
The attendees of this session were: Marco Bertozzi (Vivaki – Publicis, with 60 people focussed on RTB), Dirk Fiebig (Amnet – Aegis, with 50 people in Europe), Sandy Hubert (Cadreon - Interpublic) and Caspar Schlickum (Xaxis – WPP, with 100 people across 16 markets).
What % of clients have embraced programmatic buying?
Xaxis > 1,000 and the rest no idea
What are we doing to educate?
- Xaxis: specialist hub of resources, separate business and responsibility to educate I.e. help agencies to understand how to use data, role of a buy on a media plan, how to buy audience and execution
- Cadreon: Has hotedesking and the idea of having specialist consultants and first point of contact to help the account team determine channels are best
- Amnet: When we launched in OPCO's the agencies needed to attend a lunch and learn. Transparency is key except about their margin. ;-) Planners and buyers are encouraged to test and if it doesn't work for a client, we have to say no.
- Vivaki: Launching key hubs this year: Amsterdam and Singapore. Now 11-12 markets in Europe. Hubs focus on product, platform and activation plus people on the ground working with the agencies. So many international clients see this as a great opportunity.
…. Conclusion: all have different organising principles around their desks
Debate from 4 A's - "We have to be transparent with client and execute that way but it doesn't have to be on a fully disclosed basis" - Irwin Gottlieb
- Vivaki: Need to separate agencies from trading desks. The agencies are clear about using AOD delivered by Vivaki. If it's not working on a plan, it gets taken off. Happy to disclose how we split media from technology from service. Don't disclose any less than everyone else. [SJ: an excellent answer to a difficult question]
RTB has been bottom 20% of market, a remnant market, what has AOD allowed you to do in private market versus open market?
- Vivaki: Less about inventory and more about bespoke solutions in UK. In Europe very important to bring premium publishers on board. It solves different issues in different markets.
- Xaxis: We haven't moved away from an open exchange. We leverage relationships with publishers to deliver audience. Publishers want advertisers not vice versa. The quality of inventory isn't there in open market and allows us to top up inventory. Private is a gateway to premium when you need to deliver.
- Amnet: We firmly believe in premium programmatic i.e. premium display benefits from the efficiency of programmatic. Lack of skill is one pain point. People need to learn new skills and people need to retrain and rethink.
- Cadreon: Premium is not just about the right context but about e right audience in the right context. It's about custom solutions for clients in data solutions i.e. giving feedback on audiences and how to engage with them. The idea is to have strategists (ex-agency) sitting close to planning team to ensure no opportunities are missed as well as to be consultants.
Jay says that he thinks that Europe is ahead of the game. What is the most and least progressive European markets in terms of programmatic deal automation?
- Vivaki: UK then France. Netherlands are also very progressive despite small market size.
- Amnet: Netherlands
- Cadreon: UK
- Xaxis: UK and some smaller markets e.g. Eastern Europe
… and the least progressive? All say Germany (which is 2-3 years behind)
Is this the year of programmatic buying?
- Cadreon: No. Need publishers to address releasing more inventory as still keeping for direct sales
- Xaxis: No change as this is how we have been operating for a few years already (self-admittedly a cheeky answer)
What is a higher priority video or mobile? All say video.
- Xaxis: I can't see a tiny ad on a small screen is a good thing so it's hard to imagine programmatic buying on mobile. Too hard with data and think ere are better opportunities at the moment.
- Vivaki: Video is a business priority. There is just such a big disconnect with mobile as we are glued to our phones but can't monetize. We are doing AOD mobile but from a publisher perspective someone needs to do something different beyond a banner ad.
Potentially damaging to the industry what Firefox are doing with third party cookies (Xaxis). Rubicon wrapped up with the prediction that automation will come faster than we think.
Then it was time for one of my favourite sessions from AdWeek,: Retail, Recession and Rebirth - a conversation with Theo Paphitis and Archie Norman. Theo is a former Dragon from the BBC hit series "Dragon's Den" and is a wealthy entrepreneur who successfully has rescued several high street chains. Archie Norman is Chairman of ITV and former member of the House of Commons. HE is ex-chief exec ASDA and famous for turning it around to make second largest in the UK. As with the Sir Martin Sorrel and Sir David Brailsford session, it was actually Theo who was being interviewed by Archie (Sir David was interviewed by Sir Martin).
This was an extremely entertaining session to watch as Theo is a charming and witty TV personality who knows how to win and work a room. The entertainment factor was heightened when the conversation focussed on the lingerie business early on (what is it about men and lingerie??).
Below are some interesting points I noted from Theo:
- I am worried about what technology is doing to us. Why are we constantly on Twitter? Why do we instantly click on a link and reply to an email? Not sure that we as human beings can cope with what is happening. SJ: I have to agree with Theo here!
- It's a great time for shop-keepers at the moment, just bought Robert Dyer- ironmongery.
- John Lewis is one of the best retailers in the UK. 25% sales from e-commerce! The physical and digital retail mall can exist together.
- Background: Sold Contessa and Le Senza to private equity fund in 2006. But they repositioned it and left a gap in the market. M&S has 20% lingerie market. Problem is the buying experience: lingerie gets put in bag with frozen chicken (cue massive laughs from the audience). The way you feel when you are wearing it is the same as when you are buying it. It's an original experience that translates in the wearing.
- M&S problem is trying to be everything to everyone. I don't think it's at it's best. It's looking a bit lost. It's a trusted brand.
- Just launched Boux Avenue http://www.bouxavenue.com/about with 18 stores (SJ: I noticed a 25% promotion in Hello Magazine this week)
- It's a digital store with physical presence. Everything in the stores is digital and can change and control everything from his office such as an instant flash sale, price points and music. There is more technology than in the local apple store! It's the perfect retail store!
- Times are tough so give someone a reason to spend money with you.
- Everything is changing and we need to change with it though not time yet to throw the baby out with the bath water. Not the end of TV when a show can reach 9 million users (I missed the reference here). TV still very successful for us. In retail, the television share of advertising has gone up.
- The high streets need to get the mix of shops right. It's no surprise people are heading to shopping malls now.
- We have low staff turnover because we incentivise well e.g. Caribbean trip. It's about building a team and empowering people to be passionate about what they do. Wasting their lives if their job is just killing time and drawing a wage. They should be doing something else.
- We've changed the culture at Robert Dyers and already seen the culture change. The first people I talk to are on the shop floor. I just listen and facilitate. I allow them to solve the problem.
- There was a humorous moment when Archie referred to Theo's "twittering" (instead of saying tweeting) which Theo then subtly replied to referring (tongue-in-cheek) to his twittering.
In a nutshell, Theo is a visionary entrepreneur in the retail space who is really embracing all elements of digital in the marketing space. I only hope more retailers will follow his lead.
While I contemplated going for lunch, I decided to stay put instead intrigued by what the newspapers were experiencing and the ensuing discussion. So the session entitled "Newsworks: No News is Terrible News" kicked off with a panel consisting of John Lloyd (TV Producer) who acted as the moderator and is famous for black Adder and Barclaycard ads with Rowan Atkinson, Sarah Sands (Evening Standard) and Gordon Smart (The Sun's Bizarre), introduced and brought to us by Rufus Olins (Newsworks).
What a great time to have such a panel (and a total coincidence) with the deputy editor of the Sun just charged for pay-offs and the Evening Standard was under fire for leaking an embargoed headline during Osborne's budget speech.
(Sarah) What does The Standard do for London? Circulation and readership are high, as is goodwill. We want London to succeed not just report on murders. There is a sense of exuberance and optimism.
- Evening standard being free has transformed the paper but its all about quality. People therefor have goodwill. One copy gets read several times.
- Standard still is a unifying community experience in London. Just won a TV franchise for London.
- (Gordon) loves the use of English language e.g. Premature Jockey Elation for a story about a jockey who celebrated before he passed over the finish line (love it!)
- (John) TV in much more of a mess than newspapers
- (Gordon) The tough side has been is seeing so many colleagues arrested and living in fear of police arriving Saturday morning arresting you like a colleague (who was a pictures editor) who even had cereal boxes emptied in front of his kids looking for hidden documents.
- (John) The big opportunity for advertising is to get creative. The YouTube 4 second skip function has changed the ways ads are made as now advertisers are making 4 second ads for YouTube!
- (Sarah) Creativity in advertising has been affected by management pressure for efficiency. The editorial and advertising sides should collaborate more.
- Multi-platform offers terrific reach!
- (John) Advertising needs to be so good that you don't feel you a watching advertising e.g. Rowan Atkinson Barclay ads. Sometimes you shouldn't listen to the audience e.g. No one supported an Edwardian drama but now look at Downton Abby!
Newsworks concluded by inviting those interested to contact them to attend _shift 2913 conference on 16 April.
The next session involved Lorraine Candy (Editor-in-Chief Elle) interviewing a surprise guest who turned out to be Matthew Williamson in a session brought to you by … surprise-surprise: Hearst magazines!
- Elle has just gone through a year long restructure integrating digital into one team. It was Natalie Massenet (Net-a-Porter) who advised Lorraine several years ago to head up both the digital and print editions of the magazine.
- Matthew started 16 years ago and always dreamed about having own brand and own label. His partner (Joseph) is CEO and co-founder. Kate Moss was his muse
- Matthew has done lots of collaborations e.g Osborne and Little. Launches Instagram Net-a-Porter solution soon.
- Matthew remembered how he didn't really give Natalie Massenet the time of day when they first met as e-commerce was so unknown. Now someone like Natalie is main stream in the fashion industry as she is head of the British Fashion Council. Even more interesting is that Net-A-Porter is Matthew's biggest account selling the most of his goods over the last 11 years. He loves nothing more than the weekly sales report from Net-a-Porter e.g. one week he noticed they were selling lots of product in Australia! There is a great degree of market insight available via e-commerce.
- Matthew collects info from 170 stockists 4 x a year about what people want to buy but at the same time, people don't know what they want until they are shown something
- He has now realised that he has to devote 1 day a week to PR (half of which will be spent looking at digital). He also has a full time social media manager.
- Digital world has brought down barriers between designers and their audience. [SJ: I asked about the consideration for involving the audience in the design process to which Matthew referred to his social media expert in the audience and answered about the Twitter feed and hashtag. Lorraine told about Elle USA who allowed users to pick real-time pieces to be worn on the catwalk! Definitely very engaging ideas thought I think that we've only scratched the surface in this area]
- Matthew only started tweeting 5 months ago and feels they are late to the party. There is a lot of social noise and they must ensure the noise they make should be done with flair and creativity.
- They have a strong Facebook platform at the moment and with a lot of content aimed at involving people in the process. The behind-the-scenes images get the biggest reactions. Vine (a mobile service allowing people to share short looping videos) was used backstage at the show.
The final session of the day, and of AdWeek for many, was Susie Essman from Curb Your Enthusiasm fame in a session called "It Only Hurts When I Laugh". This session promised on Twitter to have you laughing out loud so it was somewhat disappointing to be in a rather serious session about humour (though some folks did try to be funny, in all fairness). The names on the panel weren't in any documentation, so forgive me for not listing the attendees. I think I also got summary burn out at this stage. One key vocal and informative panel attendee I did note was David Buonguidi – the founder of Karmarama) who was also hilarious incidentally.
- Susie thinks you can slip in a thought when people laugh therefore humour perfect for advertising as it is memorable.
- (David) In advertising in the UK, we just tend to show a funny commercial with messaging "brought to you by) which isn't enough of a selling tool for a specific product though it does lead to better engagement.
- Another example is Philips who had a "just funny web series" consisting of 8 x 3 minutes segments which were a rom com love series. This was done about 3 years ago promoting Philips headphones.
- (Susie) Noticed that in America all the Super Bowl ads which were supposed to be funny had violence I.e. 3 Stooges style comedy
- (David) Karmarama did ad for Costa Coffee with Kiss music and images of people up to heads covered in coffee. It was a peculiar film with great music making for great engagement.
- It's interesting to look at why did Gangnam Style explode?
- It's a shame that comedians are often brought in for commercials but the result is poor because of a tight script. Funny ads should have some improv. John Cleese has done a lot of bad ads. Susie says she isn't restricted by a script as its all about the delivery.
- A question emerged from the audience why there isn't funny material any more on radio and the answer was "radio isn't something paid attention to any more" (I think this was by a pannelist who is strategy director TBWA)
What an interesting point to end AdWeek on, i.e. the sad condemnation of radio and final confirmation that today, AdWeek and bascially all advertising is about digital.