IAB Engage 2019: How to make the best of today’s tech

IAB Engage always provides some thought-provoking content and can be relied upon to both challenge our pre-conceptions and unpack the latest trends. Last week’s event at The Barbican saw a mix of technology, creative and media speakers take to the stage, and two of our digital gurus, Ben Foster and Olumide Gomes, were there to hear what they had to say.

Ben Foster, Director of Digital

Having rebranded the agency back in April around our evolved planning approach of ideas that deliver, it was great to repeatedly hear about the increased focus on creativity as a crucial element of successful campaign execution.

An historical IAB study showed that campaigns that have won creative awards delivered six times the ROI of industry benchmarks. However, the growing trend of short-termist thinking driven by businesses failing three times faster than they were 50 years ago, and CMOs churning faster than ever, means creativity is being quashed. We know from Binet & Field that a longer-term focus reaps rewards so, even in a tough economic climate, organisations need to embrace an approach of agile long termism.

Throughout the morning we saw the potential uses of 5G, ambient computing and VR but for most clients with performance goals and a mass market target audience these new marketing tools are cost-prohibitive and have restricted reach.

However, as technology matures and becomes accessible at scale people expect organisations to react quickly and utilise new functionality. You don’t need to be at the cutting edge – nor even an early adopter – but when the time is right you have to be able to move fast or you will be left behind.

Olu Gomes, Director of Programmatic

The afternoon sessions continued looking at the impact of 5G, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence for the modern marketer. Whilst the perceptions of these innovations were little more than buzzwords a few years ago, the reality is that they are now starting to fundamentally change how consumers interact with both content and brands.

5G, for example, will not only increase the download speeds on mobile devices but also provide new opportunities for marketers to create real time augmented reality experiences that go past just placing a banner on a mobile device. The practical use of AI is starting to come to fruition as brands are starting to use the technology to personalise content and experiences while using big data sets.

However, while the advancement of technology should excite marketers, it is important to ensure they are advertising to humans, whose behaviour has fundamentally changed over the years due to said technology.

Marketers have to remain consistent across all mediums, ensuring that when a consumer’s attention has been captured the brand in question is being delivered in a way that resonates with them.  An example has been how Starbucks utilised something as simple as a mirror selfie to create an additional marketing opportunity, by providing branded phone cases.  The practical application of this meant that every time someone uploads a picture on social media, it creates an additional free marketing opportunity for Starbucks, something they actively promote.

Finally, we had the opportunity through a number of sessions to reflect on why diversity is so important. The Telegraph is the first and only newspaper to introduce an editor dedicated purely to women’s sports, with correspondents in France to cover the FIFA Women’s World Cup.  The impact that the expanded coverage will have on reaching and inspiring a generation of young girls and women can’t be understated. It’s not for companies to simply fulfil diversity quotas, it has to become part of the very DNA of how businesses are setup.