Written by Media

Advertising Week Europe – Guardian Breakfast

The inaugural Advertising Week Europe conference kicked off in London this week, and the very first session was The Guardian Founders Opening Breakfast with The Guardian’s Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger. Listening to live jazz music at Ronnie Scott’s at 8am was a different experience.
As I sat down with a cup of tea and a croissant, a BBC News alert text reported that Labour’s Harriet Harmen was saying that a press deal had been struck between the main political parties. So a big day for the press perhaps?
Rusbridger referenced this news in his introduction and mentioned that regulation of the press was perhaps a strange concept for Americans in the room. In any case, with a Royal Charter “you should all feel privileged to be in this room.”
The panel, to talk about leading-edge technology in a digital world, consisted of Gurbaksh Chahal of Radiumone, Rene Rechtman of Goviral and AOL Networks, and JB Rudelle of Critereo.
Rene talked about the importance of peer to peer connections made in social media for buying products while JB said social is one area of importance, but combined with others, it becomes powerful.
Rene said that his business is driven by data with social data at its heart. They’re able to know things that others can’t about their users. He said people want to be part of the sharing society on line and that if you can utilise that data you can be in a strong place.
JB said that they don’t think about data as a special category. They think about intent. The ultimate goal for advertisers is performance. If there’s no shopping intent, then there’s no advertiser interested in this user.
He said that if someone looks a specific product page on a website, then theres strong intent. If you’re looking at, say, the news on the war Iraq, there’s nothing really there.
Rusbridger wanted to know about privacy issues and whether consumers are happy with the current boundaries.
Gurbaksh said that everyone talks about it, and sometimes it gets over-embellished. They don’t care about your name, but your actions. “Who” you are doesn’t matter. It’s the intent that you have. He doesn’t believe that there are any privacy issues. He said people are sharing more than they probably should on social networks.
Remy said it’s just the beginning. Look at Apple. People making in-app purchases without realising; kids spending thousands without parents agreement. There are going to be lots of issues, privacy only being one. The market will regulate itself in the end.
JB said that the legal aspect is simple. It’s pragmatic and that the UK is leading the way.
In business, we have to think about how to sustain a long term business. If we don’t treat our customers well then it causes long term damage. Be one step ahead of the law in having good practice.
Asked about what’s worked really well in peer to peer Remy gave examples of Red Bull and Nike’s Fuel Band. The latter almost says that they don’t need to advertise any more. It wasn’t real, but it was a provocation. You have a different set of opportunities to talk to your clients in a pragmatic way. Starbucks is another example with their app. It allows the conversation to continue. Volvo Trucks was another client who uses social media well.
Gurbaksh talked about the Super Bowl and Hyundai. He said that they found people who mentioned relevant hashtags on Twitter and then presented them with the two minute version of their Superbowl ad rather than the thirty second one that aired on TV.
JB talked about the uniqueness of their ads to users. The same user doesn’t see the same ad twice and you might see very different copy.
Rusbridger wants to know about mobile.
Gurbaksh said that he shouldn’t be worried. With 1.2bn Android and iOS activations now, there’s a real marketplace to target. However, everyone hates the current mobile experience. The thing that will be cool about mobile will be the things you can’t do on the web. E.g. Utilising geolocation data. He said that we should think of the rich data that exists – the footprint you can’t get online.
Rene said that he agrees that mobile formats aren’t right yet and haven’t been figured out. Think of it as a pipe. He said that research shows that the tablet is taking over many of the previous laptops roles. And mobile is used for entertaining consumers and browsing short form video, news, and social media networks.
JB said that they’re incredibly excited but there are a lot of moving pieces. He thought that we’re in the equivalent of the late nineties. But we’re more experienced today. So we can ramp up and monetise the mobile space much quickly.
Japan is a market that is very advanced in mobile, with the US and Europe still “coming”. It’ll move quickly in the next 18 months he predicts.
Gurbaksh said that Facebook now says the average user spends 6.5 hours a month on the web but 8.5 hours on mobile. That’s why they’re going to be mobile first company.
Someone asked about the Mozilla third party cookie plans that are proposed, and that he thought were concerning. Although the panel all thought that they had a solution. Gurbaksh thought that it wouldn’t become an issue while JB said that it’s not a legal issue. He noted that the average politician had no idea of the difference between first and third party cookies.
In response to another question, Rene saw no limits to the kind of clients that can use social media. Anything can be made sexy – including a washing machine (I note that Samsung had quite a decent viral video for their washing machines recently).
Gurbaksh said that there was a rush to do some things like setting up a Facebook page. But what does that mean? You can make any brand sexy but you need to put the effort in.
On regulation JB said that you have to get the user on board. It’s only a small piece of the story. Britain has done regulation well whereas the Netherlands has taken a more draconian approach.
Gurbaksh gives a Neiman Marcus example using URL shorteners tracking sharing of URLs to purchase, with a really high return rate of purchases.
In a world where there’s unlimited content, says Rene, then the value comes from high end and curated content. Otherwise the value is close to zero.
Rusbridger noted that if it was only about curation then The Guardian would have no advantage over something like the Huffington Post. But they have a newsroom of people creating their own reporting.
Asked about too much value being given to the last click in a purchase chain, Gurbaksh says some brands will think that way, but he says in the US thinking about just that is becoming a thing of the past.
Rene says that the last click model is definitely disappearing. But he says that it’s across devices and the attribution model (An aside: quite how that relates to non-internet marketing, I’m not clear).
JB has a different view. His company has its own mathematical model which includes display and gives their clients an ROI.
The panel largely agrees that agencies will still be important in Europe. Although there are opportunities to work direct with clients. It’s going to collaborative.
Rusbridger asked the last question himself and told us that he was heading to the airport to visit India where he’d be interviewing Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt. He wanted questions from the panel. But they all tended to be in awe of what he was doing, so nothing too journalistically demanding came of it!
A fun opening session to a week of events across the capital.