The IAB's annual Engage conference didn't fail to deliver on great content or inspiration. Account Director, Alastair Kidner, has looked to summarise his key takeouts from the day. Part one looks at data.
Right from the off there was a sense of anticipation and excitement at change in the air, as Jon Mew took to the stage for his first Engage as CEO of IAB UK, having been in the role for 9 months now. Quickly the anticipation of the audience was rewarded, as Jon announced the new ‘IAB Gold Standard’ V1.0; a new tentpole initiative in partnership with the biggest media outlets out there, Facebook, Google and Microsoft included. This was a moment that brought to the fore the IAB’s new initiatives for a ‘better’ digital ad industry, one based on advertisers having the power to work with partners who are actually trying to do digital marketing the right way to benefit the end customer. This wasn’t the end of changes for the IAB though, with an announcement that their mid-tier conferences were now going to be combined and that there would be 3 flagship IAB conferences for 2018, Engage included. There would also be a new IAB team set up to set, analyse and evaluate measurements standards in the digital economy.With the big IAB news out of the way, the Navigate team sat down to a day of enlightening talks, discussions and activities about the near and far of digital advertising. Roughly the talks through the day seemed to touch on a range of three topics; data, machine learning and storytelling.DataThere was a noticeable shift away from the term 'big data' this year. In fact, there was almost a rally against data at one point, with both Jonathan Markwell from the IAB (‘Creating the Future from the Past’) and Dan Hagen from Carat (‘People Based: A new model for Marketing’) both spoke about the danger of just analysing data and figures as sustainable results, with media having lost its mojo as a result. The industry has become dangerously close to being obsessed with short-termism with goals set by nothing but data, with Jonathan pointing out that it’s actually patterns that are often more interesting than numbers.There were positives brought up about data still though. Kawal Gandhi from Google (‘Cloud and Ads’) spoke about how data has really been informed by as well as assisted their machine learning efforts, utilising large datasets, accessing large-scale computer solutions and powerful frameworks to provide customers with tools that they’ll find useful in all areas. Brant from Buzzfeed (‘Adapting to change, anticipating the future’) was also onboard the data brigade, giving insight into how Buzzfeed’s strategy was completely altered and opened up once they realised the mountain of user and consumer data they were sitting on. Ultimately it took a brave and ambitious move to turn viral video into publishing gold.Read part two here.Alastair Kidner, Account Director