in Data & Insights

Reflections on IAB Engage

Quantcast’s VP of Modeling and Optimization Michael Recce presented at IAB Engage in London on the use of data and predictive intelligence to deliver relevant advertising, view the presentation here.

The dust has now firmly settled after this year’s IAB Engage, and it’s worth reflecting on the trends that speakers highlighted and lessons we can learn as our industry plans for 2014.

This was the fourth IAB Engage I have attended and it’s interesting to think about how our industry has changed. The theme of the event was “the human touch” but tech and hardware was the dominant topic, with widespread implications I will touch on in a second.

I’m still astounded seeing so many of the best in our industry in one room and it’s great to hear thought provoking TED-esque talks that get you thinking about the year to come – the list of keynote speakers featured some seriously heavy hitters, many of whom had flown over from the US just for this event.

It’s been said many times that “next year will be the year of mobile.” But with tablet penetration looking to be close to 50% by the end of the year according to IAB, the shorthand name for 2014 looks like a foregone conclusion.

Several comments from speakers leapt out at me as having real implications for our industry.

Amazon’s VP of global ad sales Lisa Utzschneider highlighted the importance of cross-platform shopping and how we need to “start from the consumer and work backwards” in order to develop a successful marketing strategy.

Nicola Mendelsohn, EMEA VP at Facebook frankly admitted that the social network initially ‘failed to understand mobile’ but said that the company is now “putting mobile at the heart of strategy”.

Then Google’s VP of business and operations in Europe Matt Brittin managed to overcome technical glitches with his presentation to gave a captivating talk about how Google “needs to work the way the world works rather than the other way round” showcasing what is now an impressive suite of Google hardware products.

Microsoft’s General Manager of XBox Ross Honey, then showcased the new Kinect and IAB’s Realview research highlighted how essential multi-screening has become in our multi-tasking ‘always on’ lives. On the brand side Waitrose, Unilever and Amazon all talked about the need to put customers at the heart of e-commerce and digital advertising solutions.

All the talks were delivered with real conviction, but they did leave me with a thought.

Personally I was quite surprised that so many companies all chose to speak about devices and hardware implying they provide a major pathway to the future of our industry.

No one can doubt the huge way tech is transforming marketing but it did leave me wondering – is the advertising industry in its rush to embrace new technology forgetting to talk about… advertising?

When putting together our presentation by Quantcast’s VP modeling and optimisation Michael Recce, our aim was to really showcase the vast opportunity that has been created by real time advertising and the fact that data can be used to deliver relevant ads to the right people. The advertising industry is going through a fundamental shift – the use of data and predictive intelligence is increasingly being used to deliver relevant advertising.

With so many devices and so much noise, relevance is more important than ever. By marrying science with art, advertisers have the tools to be the best marketers they have ever been. With regards to our keynote, Quantcast is an advertising technology company, so we unashamedly focused on speaking about advertising.

Maybe when we look back at 2013 in years to come, we will see that the hardware was the means to deliver new things, but the science that was developed in the background truly changed the game.

Originally published in Marketing Magazine on October 29, 2013 by Amit Kotecha, Head of Marketing EMEA