This Tuesday (17th July), we hosted our second ever Outstream Summit Manchester. Last year’s event was the first UK summit to be held outside of London, and the success of 2018’s edition shows this is already becoming a regular event in the media industry calendar.
Growth and entrepreneurship are the two key words that come to mind when discussing Manchester, a city where job creation and economy are far outstripping others around the world. Entrepreneurial spirit is in Teads’ DNA so it’s no surprise that the Manchester office is one of our major growth drivers in the business – the energy in the city is palpable and was certainly felt in the room.
The focus of the day was around the free web – we are in such an exciting time where user experience is finally catching up to expectations online and, as such, the opportunity to create real understanding of value exchange is there. That premium content can be available online at no cost to consumers through ad-funded models. But we have to work hard at it to prevent quality journalism and content losing out any further to Facebook, Google and Amazon. So we brought together some of the best minds in media to see how we can best work together going forward.
Mick Style, CEO Wavemaker Manchester, took to the stage first, giving us some fascinating context of how media and the news got to where we are today. When you stitch together the history of communications, right the way back to scribbling on wax tablets in Roman times, then it’s amazing to see how much has changed – but also how much hasn’t. How central the idea of the end reader/user/consumer has and will always be, and it’s always worth ground ourselves in that. Yes, we can reach people in so many ways now, but the skill of picking which media and when is as crucial as what that message actually is.
Next up client, agency and tech provider sat down together to discuss Perfect Planning in a Perfect World. Pierre Hun, Head of Media, NBrown Group and Katie Livesley – Head of Digital Display, Amplifi joined Teads’ UK MD, Justin Taylor for a chat on how collaboration and creativity can come together to great success.
When looking at NBrown’s broad range of brands, 11 brands and 3 power brands (SimplyBe, JD Williams and Jacamo) – the key for the agency, Katie said, was focusing on the brand’s own data. That was the best way to define audience segments and their reactions to products – creating real world data insights.
One of the key points for Pierre, was a move further towards performance of output influencing results. The more that marketing can prove its value the better, and that comes through engaging formats and creative as well as understanding where consumers are. How does that work? Case studies that can be found in the links below, show some of the examples from their latest campaigns. Showing online video alongside shoppable ads pushed the brand and then consumers to click through to the online shop. Scrolling banners gives consumer control over the ad, enabling them to choose which outfit is most relevant and therefore increasing engagement rates.
A full funnel, online video through to performance, approach really delivered. But only because all teams came together – working on a clear strategy to great effect.
Jamie Angus, Director, BBC World Service Group then took to the stage giving an impassioned talk, discussing how the BBC manages its news service around the world. A complicated commercial model of license fee plus ad-supported content makes for a difficult line of church and state to toe. Not to mention upholding the most prestigious global brand in media through local channels that, in some cases, are relied upon over local broadcasters. The power of trust in the BBC’s name means that strict fact checking has to be maintained, but being right over being first in today’s media world isn’t an easy choice to make. It can mean losing out on first clicks, but by staying true to their values is how the BBC not only stays relevant, but crucial to those every day. As a member of the audience commented “I may find out about a breaking story on Twitter, but I won’t believe it’s true until the BBC reports it.”
The fact of the BBC’s impartiality arose (Jamie said that independence is an easier term to grasp than impartiality, especially globally) but again – the BBC stays true to its values. When you try to avoid political leanings, both sides end up accusing you of bias – so whilst the attacks feel stronger than before, the BBC will always maintain its course. It’s crucial that those on all sides are able to tune in and be part of one conversation and it’s a position that few other broadcasters can claim to have.
Programmatic is facing a turbulent time, one the one hand there is no doubt it’s now fully ingrained into media and will only increase in its share of budgets. But by the same token it has been tainted by bad practice and, with increasing measures being handed down by international courts, this panel looked at what can be done to further the case of programmatic. Ryan Cook, VP Programmatic & Business Development EMEA, Teads – chaired a great discussion with: Michael Leppan, Partner, Open Programmatic; Tom Ives, Head of Programmatic, Lattitude Marketing and Chris Turner, Head of Programmatic, MediaCom North.
The first question put forward, was how can publishers best use programmatic to be profitable?
Michael opened, saying that high-frequency ads are creating really bad user experiences. There was a time when print ads were so compelling and we rarely see that level of creative these days, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Better user experiences will only serve to create broader and better audiences, which therefore creates better environments for buyers.
Chris added that advertising really needs to prove its value. It feels like we’re in media whack attack, just hitting one problem only to see another one pop up. It’s important to focus on the big picture, marketing shouldn’t be just about dropping cookies.
We’re now 2 months after the GDPR regulation has come into effect, so the panel was asked to discuss how it’s affected publishers and buyers alike.
Tom, from Lattitude, said there’s no getting away from the fact that the audiences we can now measure are limited, GDPR has fundamentally shifted that proposition. But it’s also helping ensure we use relevant data. Clients using their own data better, 2nd party data is coming in more and more which is great. It’s pushing us to do things properly, rather than the laziness that was creeping in.
Publishers are certainly being more cooperative now but we’re not there yet. Everyone agreed that fragmentation is the biggest challenge to further programmatic and there are way too many terms and acronyms. Even things like “programmatic guaranteed ” means different things if you’re Google or AppNexus – so having clear markers early in conversations will help move things along.
But it was also noted this is not an easy solution. Google’s own products don’t speak to each other, let alone outside partners. So if even Google are struggling then that shows the complexity of the ecosystem and parties should be careful not to make it sound easy when it isn’t.
In the penultimate session, we heard from Victoria Handley, Senior Marketing Manager for Lloyds Banking Group and Jonathan Lewis, Global Head, Teads Studio – looking at the new way brands are approaching campaigns. This is off the back of a hugely successful strategy by Lloyds, whereby for their last campaign they removed all other online channels from the campaign and focused 100% of online video on outstream.
Vicky explained that Lloyds’ position is to have the best financial brand profile in UK, not an easy task given their competitors. So when writing the brief for this campaign, they took a different approach and looked at specific content for each individual media, rather than creating something top line and adapting it. They then brought in both media (Greenhouse) and creative shops (Adam and Eve DDB) for initial discussions. Then taking this collaborative approach one step further and brought in media vendor teams – so everyone was together in one room, tapping into their expertise.
Lloyds had done Teads tests before, but this time they decided to put all their eggs into one basket to see what happened. The problem was, pre-roll wasn’t working, so whilst it was a big sell internally not to use pre-roll (or anything else) something different had to be tried to drive engagement and increase brand awareness. The agencies embraced it and all the extra work involved (including training a horse to run with a 360 camera on its back!) paid off. Engagement rates were over 3x industry standards (26% vs 8%) and over 4x the 6% that Lloyds had achieved in previous campaigns.
The key takeaway from Lloyds? Be brave and collaborative – bring partners in and don’t be afraid to use them. Plus, when you’re booking in time with film crews – tell them not to think of it as a TV shoot – it’s a content shoot – and the rest should fall into place.
Finally, Sara Simeone, founder of Digital Oracles took to the stage for a look to the future. Sara’s work has involved looking at the next steps of media buying and specifically how machine learning and block-chain will really affect the industry in the coming years.
The adoption of machine learning, to remove the admin and inefficiencies of day to day work is on the rise. But cost and expertise were seen to be the main barrier for the clients she interviewed for her research. So whilst the benefits are certainly understood, they aren’t enough to currently outweigh the significant barrier for entry for most. That being said, the barrier is being lowered at an ever-increasing pace and as skills become both more accessible and affordable, clients are certainly ready and willing to take the plunge.
For those in the know about Blockchain, its ability to solve the media industry’s problems around fraud and transparency have been plain to see for a while now. But in this case we are much closer to everyday adoption. Agencies are investigating and a few companies have actually created exchanges – including Basic Attention Token and METAX. A time where one of these exchanges becomes a normal way to buy is not far off.
To summarise all this? Media is in a great place – the talent is growing, publishers are speaking to their audiences in better ways and because of that we’re working better as an industry. Planning, creative and technology are pushing forward to genuinely make advertising more and more valuable. It’s a thrilling time to be in this business.
Overall it was an incredibly inspiring day. Thank you to all our speakers and attendees who made Outstream Summit Manchester a brilliant event. We’re proud to be part of the Manchester ecosystem and look forward to seeing you all again next year.