Web Summit: Day Two & Three Round Up

November 5, 2015

From the future of selfies, to satellite imaging, to podcasts & video messaging - here's what we caught at Web Summit

Arriving for Day Two at Web Summit, there were noticeably lots of bleary-eyed attendees who may have enjoyed the Night Summit a little too much. One of the morning’s talks on the Society stage was entitled ‘The ultimate selfie: what we leave behind in a digital world’. Jacki Ford Morie, founder and chief scientist at The Augmented Traveler, suggested that the not-too-distant selfie will be an avatar that would live on after you, with its own ‘memory’ and ability to interact with your children and grandchildren. Every aspect of our physiology, of our biology can be captured by sensors, and the ways in which we are able to capture our physical appearance are also becoming much more sophisticated and can even capture layers of skin. In the virtual world, people are increasingly using avatars to create digital forms of themselves and social communities, and the lines between what’s physical and what’s digital are blurring. Morie also said she believed people would be able to live in these digital realities and to move between the physical and the digital in ways we cannot even imagine today.

Later in the day, after an obligatory hair-of-the-dog Guinness for lunch, we caught Scott Larson, CEO of Urthecast, who are leveraging satellite imagery & video. Earth images from space have traditionally been reserved for a privileged few: astronauts, governments and large corporations. UrtheCast has broken open that traditional model, giving a near-realtime view of Earth from space, which can be a powerful, evocative perspective. Two such examples were highlighting which reactors had a meltdown in the recent Japanese nuclear incident, or identifying water pollution next to factories.

Following on from Urthecast, we stuck around for an interesting panel discussion on podcasts. They have enjoyed a certain renaissance recently, perhaps as the general public has got used to the idea of catch up TV, audio books etc. Podcasts have immense potential in advertising – generally they are stories from individuals, to individuals, with an added degree of intimacy as normally you listen with headphones, making it deeply personal. They are also an antidote to cat vines and short-form media. On a one hour commute, would you rather be mindlessly playing with your mobile, flitting from app to app, or immerse yourself in an engaging podcast for the duration? The long form of podcasts become a luxury when we have the time to listen, taking on an almost therapeutic quality in a world where our time and efforts are increasingly fragmented. The missing piece for the podcast ecosystem is the lack of semantic search within audio streams – but imagine if advertisers could introduce a product or brand to the listener at a time that is hyper-relevant, interjecting with an ad at the right sentiment of the podcast content, to a listener that is considered their audience.

On Day Three, we checked in on Jamie West, deputy MD of Sky Media, on why targeted advertising technology is saving the TV ad market. Time poor and convenience driven consumers have changed no industry more than television and its advertising model, and Sky are responding to the challenge, creating a more seamless, relevant viewing experience for their customers. Firstly, Adsmart has been developed to the tune of around £100 million to begin giving viewers a better experience. During commercials, they have seen a ‘time away’ reduction of 32% through improved relevancy – that is people changing channels during ad breaks. Currently in BETA, Sky AdVance aims to break down the barriers between TV & digital (desktop, tablet & mobile), by encompassing Sky’s digital properties, but also third-party digital inventory purchased through DSPs. Using this new product, advertisers know whether someone has seen a TV ad and can then reinforce that exposure by targeting them again online, whether through display or on-demand video, for example. Alternatively, they could pick off the people who did not see the TV ad, using digital advertising to reach them instead. Jamie West explained more: “By allowing sequential and consequential targeting we can ensure creative is seen in the order intended, delivered with maximum impact. A luxury car marque could play out a 60 second TV commercial to arouse interest and then arrange for banners to appear around online content once the TV ad has been seen in that household, offering test drives and monthly finance options, for example.” Ultimately this product will make advertising more sympathetic for the user, alongside improving the multiscreen, online-offline effectiveness of storytelling.

We also heard from Jonathan Caras, co-founder & COO of video messaging app Glide, a 3 year old app born out of Jerusalem. The evolution of mobile messaging could well be visual (video), and Glide are the video solution to messaging, “a video walkie-talkie”. Snapchat, it was argued, functions slightly differently to messaging apps. Firstly, what video messaging creates are deeper, more meaningful relationships; seeing the person communicating with you is an altogether more satisfying, human experience than ping-ponging Whatsapps around. Then there’s the fact that when video messaging, the content of your communication is likely to have more depth than whatever text you thumb your friends on Whatsapp. Face-to-face messaging is obviously more intimate than sending text – why else is it that people fly half way around the world for business meetings? In a similar vein to the potential of podcast advertising, video messaging would also allow intimate, one-on-one marketing; an interesting space to create relationships with consumers. This could represent the new frontier of marketing, developing more personal relationships with consumers through more intimate mediums.

David Walby, Search Director

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