The day started with anticipation that was almost palpable. On the agenda for the day Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive, WPP; Marissa Mayer, President and Chief Executive, Yahoo!, and a wealth of other industry leaders including Jean-Philippe Maheu, Managing Director, Global Brand and Agency Strategy, Twitter, and opening speaker Randy Kilgore, Senior Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, Tremor Video, and Chairman, IAB Board of Directors.
Kilgore introduced the day by challenging the question: “Advertising is _____?,” the theme of the two-day conference. “I think that’s kind of the wrong question,” he said. It’s more “whether chaos will settle back into order, will the pace of all new things being thrown at us ever slow down so that we get a handle on things again?” Yes, he said. He cited the industry standards and structures developed by IAB over time and the growth and scale of video. The pace of change will be outstripped by our ability to create structure. But there is a constant: Persuasion. “The need to persuade the consumer remains the core objective and there has never been more tools for doing so,” he said.
* Advertising is persuasion. Advertising is brilliant.
Sharp-witted and insightful with a panoramic view of the advertising and marketing industry, Sir Martin Sorrell, Chief Executive, WPP, took the stage for an intimate conversation with Randall Rothenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, IAB. The fireside chat examined global issues that the industry acts on daily, addressed through a perspective both aerial and still feet-on-the-ground. Topics included: the over-wrought mysticism and truth behind big data, a business in which WPP has been bullish; the complexities resulting from the fragmentation and broadening of the industry; the agnosticism of WPP as opposed to technology companies that are also in the media business; the strategies underpinning the Publicis Groupe and Omnicom mega-merger; the new digitally-driven opportunity for manufacturers to develop direct relationships with consumers; the potential of Chinese business models; as well as frenemies, privacy, video, and the definition of advertising. “I hear you use the word advertising and that I don’t like. It’s a reversion,” Sorrell challenged. “Advertising suggests legacy media, and art not science. And it’s a mixture of the two.” Later elaborating, “It’s not advertising. It’s not an art anymore. It’s a science, and it’s much broader than advertising.”
* Advertising is….It’s not advertising.
Sir Martin briefly mentioned that video is strong in high-penetration television markets. The proximity of television to digital moved closer with a presentation by Jean-Philippe Maheu, Managing Director, Global Brand and Agency Strategy, Twitter. We watch TV with a second screen on our laps or in our hands, he said. Forty percent of smartphone and tablet owners browse social networks while watching TV, and 90 percent of the conversation is on Twitter. Indicative of the continual and fast-paced progress in the interactive advertising industry—Twitter, he said, now has technology to understand the synergy between TV and Twitter. These capabilities are brought to life through two new products Twitter Amplify and TV Ad Targeting. Twitter Amplify allows brands to promote highlights from TV directly in a Twitter stream, while TV Ad Targeting allows advertisers to retarget the audience that is tweeting about the show.
And then TV and video got even closer. “It’s television that looks like the internet,” said Tad Smith, President, Local Media, Cablevision Systems Corporation. Smith presented eye-opening research demonstrating the long tail in television viewing. Seventeen percent of tuning measured in July was not in the top 100 networks. Even the 40th network in terms of tune-in time still received 3.4 hours of viewing. The environments speaks to a future where valuable television advertising opportunities will look similar to those present in programmatic buying—aggregating audiences for scale across a multitude of niche sites, or in this case cable channels.
Next up, PJ Pereira, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Pereira & O’Dell, zoomed the camera back out, walking the audience through his holistic advertising philosophy that has helped win his agency three Cannes Grand Prix Awards this year. “This is an amazing time in an industry, when you can look at things not from a perspective in how things are done, but a problem and solution point of view,” he said. Pereira approaches advertising and marketing from three aspects: content, applications, and distribution. Content is storytelling on any media. His example: the Oreo Twist campaign. Applications are more service-oriented tools like the Easy Way Subtitles. Distribution is the creative delivery of a message to consumers, such as through soccer jerseys. When you put more than one of these together, you get inspiring campaigns like The Beauty Inside and Dumb Ways To Die.
* Advertising is content, applications, distribution.
Following an opportunity for attendees to recharge, relax, and socialize at the IAB MIXX Expo, the general session reconvened with social media—or it seemed. A conversation between David Fischer, Vice President, Business and Marketing Partnerships, Facebook, and Randall Rothenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, IAB, generally steered clear of the word “social,” which at one time the industry couldn’t have a conversation without. It was instead the tacit foundational to all the two discussed. Fischer said, in 2012, most people think the big Facebook news was the IPO, but to those on the inside it was the call to go mobile first, which significantly changed the process of engineering and designing new products, he said. The conversation continued on to the mistaken perception of screen size as a limitation, attribution, Facebook’s balance of a programmatic business and a premium one, and finally social. Today, it’s less about checking the social box, Fischer said, instead it’s about opportunities for brands drive their message digitally, on mobile, and we can measure and understand the return.
* Advertising is all the time.
Following lunch and deep-dive workshops, general session reconvened with Brad Bender, Director, Project Management, Google, and Bonita Stewart, Vice President, Americas Strategic Partnerships, Google, giving their perspective on how technology is allowing brands to connect with consumers in not so traditional ways. “We are all creators and curators across the world,” said Bender. “The brand authorities are no longer the brand managers.” Stewart added that “We’re seeing the combining of content and distribution.” Google calls this the Advercaster. Even tradition publishers are getting into Advercasting. Just look at how NBC promoted their new coverage of the Barclays Premier League by creating a hysterical YouTube video that people shared because of the great content. Google’s goal is to enable brands and the people who love brands to create more of these magical moment through tools and technologies that enable Automagical Creative—the ability to easily harness technology so the storyteller can focus on what’s important, the story. When we create great work that people want to share, there’s a chance to have powerful moments, and Google wants to make more of those moments happen.
Connections and commerce—Richelle Parham, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, North America, eBay, drove home the importance of storytelling. “We really are in the business of connecting; these connections are driving stories; these stories are driving commerce,” she said. A person’s story is told through their data. While big data drives trends, little data is a powerful tool that helps eBay drive engagement. One example is the new homepage called “the feed,” which presents users with images and listings of all the types of items they care about. “The theme is inspired by you but powered by us,” she said.
And now for the grand finale of the 2013 IAB MIXX Conference and Expo. It was standing room only. Attendees jockeyed for the best views to see Marissa Mayer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Yahoo!, interviewed by Charlie Rose. As they walked to the stage, the pair commanded the room. Rose hit on all the pressing topics. Her decision to take the job at Yahoo!—“I love Yahoo!...I saw so much opportunity there.” On her philosophy of running a successful technology and media business—“You can’t do traffic or revenue, without getting the right people, getting the right products first.” On mobile—In the early days people would ask how you were going to make money from search, she recalled. The same thing is happening now on mobile, she said. Advertising opportunity in mobile “means getting the right format. It means getting the right model in terms of what advertisers want to buy and the right content.” Mobile is also where she sees Yahoo!’s future. “We have a one-to-one correlation with what people do on their phones,” she said. And finally, Tumblr. “What it really said is, ‘we came to play.’ But that’s not why you do a $1 billion acquisition.’ I can come here and say we came to play.” That was crystal clear.
The 2013 IAB MIXX Conference and Expo came to a close after two days full of buzz, networking, and insights. Attendees held stacks of business cards from all of their new contacts, tablets full of notes, and drinks in their hands as they continued on to the rest of Advertising Week.
News from IAB MIXX 2013
New IAB Study of 300 Brand Marketers Shows Striking 142% Uptick in Mobile Advertising Budgets Between 2011 and 2013
IAB Releases Digital Video Rising Stars Style Guide & Technical Specifications for Public Comment
IAB MIXX Press Coverage
#IABMIXX on Twitter