Lou Paskalis


Lou Paskalis
Senior Vice President, Enterprise Media Executive,
Bank of America

Innovation That Scales

Q.
Did you learn anything about what works and why from your experience as an IAB MIXX Judge this year that you took back to your team?

Yes, I briefed my team on it. The headline I used is “Innovation Still Works.” When we innovate, we should move away from promotional innovation and toward launching a way for us to get closer to our customers. We have to challenge ourselves to innovate in a sustainable way. If you have figured out what’s in your brand that you can build into an app experience, whether or not it connects to your core business, it can build brand love, and create brand affinity and brand advocacy. And, it can bring discovery. I was excited by so much true innovation coming out of the MIXX Awards. For example, SEEK Volunteer’s Volunteer to Promote Volunteering was so simple, but it created a movement. Vendors wanted to contribute space, consumers wanted to reward the vendors, and everyone felt better because they were helping this important cause. These things are the golden ticket of the 21st century.

Q.
Based on the work this year, how would you describe the state of interactive advertising?

It’s very much in flux because of a migration from channels and from a growing consumer expectation. We now see that mobile is the only channel growing in terms of consumption, and it’s growing at a pretty amazing rate. And, the definition of interactivity in the eyes of a young person today is very different than what we thought of as interactivity as we were doing internet 1.0 and 2.0. There’s now an expectation for immediate dialogic transaction potential, and an expectation that people are going to be delivered into experiences not flat webpages. We as marketers really have to up our game.

Q.
Are brands moving toward mobile and experiential fast enough?

Mobile still is a very small percentage of most advertisers’ budgets. There are all these suspect reasons why: the screen’s too small; my creative agency doesn’t like working in mobile; and we can’t prioritize it because it’s too hard. This is a real problem, because it’s where the consumer is going. We have to aggressively exploit mobile for what it is: the future, much more personal, highly interactive, a capable computer in people’s pockets, and a one-to-one relationship conduit. However, right now we’re looking at it as the fast-follower for an advertising campaign, and that’s going to be an industry-wide fail. CFOs are going to catch that we’re not investing where the eyeballs are.

The Chevrolet execution that won IAB Standard Mobile Rich Media Display is a good example of where we should be going. It had a high degree of interactivity. It was a choose-your-own-adventure immersion into the product.

Q.
How do you balance innovation with efficiency, invention with scale?

I was a dissenting voice when The Coca-Cola Company won for Best-in-Show for this reason. The concept doesn’t scale beyond a video that made people feel great for a moment, and doesn’t do much beyond build brand imagery. I don’t think there’s sustainability in it. There isn’t a need for it around the world, since there are only three borders in the world where people can’t talk across. What we have to challenge ourselves to do is to create engagement at scale, to push the boundaries on both, and not sub-optimize one for the other. To me, that’s the very definition of what “MIXX” is, it’s the mix of innovation and impact, it’s the mix of ideation and proven tactics that you optimize. That’s the real beauty and genius that should be rewarded.

Q.
What work captured the right mix of innovation and impact to you?

There were ones that struck me so much that I kept the judges’ book. I have it on my desk at work to thumb through for inspiration. One thing that was innovative and could scale more is BMW’s augmented reality execution. You could execute that in 12 metropolitan areas and really create something interesting. The Prometheus campaign is another example. The engagement site, where people could go and have an immersive experience, rewarded fandom. It was limited only by bandwidth and server power.

Consumers at their core want every day to be Easter, not Christmas, Easter—because they want to discover. They get excited when they discover. It’s validating when they figure out how something works. And it creates social capital, which they’re going to amplify for us.

Q.
What role do technical standards play in the evolution of digital advertising?

They’re huge. What MRAID did for the creative side was extraordinary. I’ve heard people say it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Prior to that, every mobile app had a different set of standards. It made it very expensive to build creative engagement tools in mobile. But I still cannot invest in mobile advertising in an accountable way. Because there’s no standardization in mobile measurement and every platform is engineered differently and working on a different set of metrics, I can’t do comparative evaluations. MRAID 1.0 and MRAID 2.0 were great on the creative side. I’m pushing for MRAID 3.0 to standardize measurement.

“Mobile still is a very small percentage of most advertisers’ budgets... ...This is a real problem, because it’s where the consumer is going. We have to aggressively exploit mobile for what it is: the future, much more personal, highly interactive, a capable computer in people’s pockets, and a one-to-one relationship conduit.”