Ad Week Europe
- Posted on 3 April 2017
Ad Week Europe: All about AI, programmatic and video
Ad Week Europe 2017, now in its fifth year, brought together the best and the brightest in the advertising and marketing industry. While the industry loves a well-rehearsed tweet-friendly phrase at these types of events, the audience was also treated to some truly fantastic insights to be dissected and taken back to the office. Now that we’ve had a couple of weeks to digest the insights, we’ve put together our best bits from the week:
1. Brand safety
Brand safety was of course a hot topic at Ad Week Europe following an investigation from The Times which found advertisement from well-known brands next to radical content from terrorist and other extremist groups. In a session on ‘Building Brands in an Attention Economy’, Google’s Matt Brittin ensured brands and agencies in the audience that steps would be taken to investigate the situation and make improvements.
The topic is a concern for the whole industry and as a result, ad networks, technology companies, publishers and agencies will all need to work together on improving the current standards. When asked about his take on the issue at ‘The Next Era of Programmatic’ panel, NetBooster’s Chief Innovation Officer Kristoffer Ewald argued for two key technical developments as crucial components in making this happen:
- Technical advancements in automation and advanced algorithms, particularly around understanding context, will help safeguard advertisement placements more effectively in the future
- The move into one to one targeting will allow for full transparency on where the consumer and brand come into contact
Learn more about the future of programmatic advertising and brand safety by viewing the full ‘The Next Era of Programmatic’ session below.
2. The role of advertising and marketing
Rory Sutherland, Executive Creative Director at OgilvyOne gave an inspiring talk about the role of marketing and advertising in business. Sutherland argued for marketing and advertising professionals to be invited to solve problems beyond media budget spend. While the ‘cosmetic side’ of marketing (i.e. campaigns) are important, according to Sutherland the industry has been quick to redefine marketing as only ‘marcomms’, focusing only on the ‘promotion’ aspect of the ‘marketing Ps’. Sutherland made a case for not forgetting where marketing professionals can bring solid business value – i.e. not only building brands but also solving business problems, new product development and so on.
3. AI and VR
There’s absolutely no escaping AI and VR in 2017 – with AI in particular taking centre stage this year. According to Tracey Follows, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at The Future Laboratory “we will be in communication with bots and assistants more so than with our own spouses by 2020”. A large part of this communication is predicted to happen via mobile, with Behshad Behzadi, Engineer at Google Zurich predicting “5 billion mobile users globally by 2020”.
In response to this predicted growth, Google showcased progress it has made with voice recognition technologies on mobile. According to Behzadi, the technology behind voice search has improved immensely in recent years; the error rate is now less than 8%, compared to 25% just a few years ago.
In his session Behzadi demonstrated the ability of Google Voice Search to understand the full context of a search. For example, when searching for a restaurant near you, instead of providing the user with pages of options, the AI technology would recommend only a few. The consumer will then be able to ask follow up questions and commands (i.e. ‘when does it open’ and ‘make a reservation’) with the assistant understanding the context of the query based on previous interactions.
The rise of AI, fuelled by technology and mobile adaptation globally is predicted to have a huge impact on search in the coming years, with AI taking the place of the ‘gate keeper’ for consumers. This could mean future marketers will need to market their products to the different assistant and AI services as well as the consumer, with search intent becoming an important consideration.
VR technologies were also discussed in a lot of detail at Ad Week and from the discussions it’s clear that the marketing industry is still a little unsure about how to best approach Virtual Reality. VR technologies are still a bit of a novelty for brands due to the financial investment required. While example cases of VR working incredibly well in the health industry, real estate and other sectors are already out in the market, most marketers are not quite clear on the potential return on investment. Not all brands will have the right fit for VR – instead it’s a medium that could work really well with companies that have a real emotional connection with their customers. VR could also be used to allow customers to experience something rare. However, for now VR is very much a one-on-one technology which for many brands seems to mean it’s simply not a worthwhile investment just yet.
Video as a medium is now more important to marketers than ever. According to Cisco, mobile video will account for nearly 78% of mobile traffic in the next five years – with live video counting for 5% of total mobile traffic. All major social platforms are moving towards storytelling through video; from text to images to now (live) video. Most mobile devices now have video capabilities, effectively making everyone a broadcaster.
The demand for live, unfiltered, authentic content in particular is growing with over 10 million users watching up to 2 hours of live video per day on platforms like Twitch, according to Adam Harris, Director of Custom Solutions at Twitch. Digital-native young people in particular are watching more and more live video; something that any brand wishing to connect with their future customers can’t afford to ignore. Christian Bennet from The Guardian made a case for considering the implications of live video for both publishers and brands. Traditional broadcasters have a long history of and experience in building structures for broadcasting safely which is not something marketers can learn overnight. Questions like what happens if something goes wrong, what are the risks vs. reward, what types of brands does live video work well for and what makes interesting live video need to be considered. As with any other content, live video needs an editorial objective and a cause; competing with television is not the way ahead, instead live video needs to give viewers something that they won’t be able to get anywhere else.
We’re looking forward to Ad Week Europe 2018 – until next year!