Last week I headed over to the New Video Frontiers conference to get the lowdown from some of the thought leaders in video and TV advertising.
The day was hosted by Video Ad News’s Editor Vincent Flood, who was proud to be doing this in the conference’s fifth year. He apologised for the gender imbalance of the day’s speakers by showing a picture of three sausages and one doughnut. Hmm.
The overarching theme of the day was the terrifying clutches of advertising’s duopoly: Facebook and Google.
Freewheel’s International MD Thomas Bremond gave the opening keynote, entitled “Will TV see it coming?” where he attested that the only way for TV to compete with the digital behemoths (watch this space for Facebook’s answer to Netflix) will be if they package TV and digital together.
A good jolt in the morning came when Jamie West from Sky decried that “we get caught up in the BS of tech and forget about the consumer’s perspective – all they’re doing is looking for the best content to watch”.
Ensuring that the Facebook and Google theme ran strong, the second panel of the day debated if the video pivot can help publishers survive in the age of the duopoly. There was some lively debate between Glomex’s CEO Michael Jaschke and the publishing side representatives, Digital MD of The Telegraph Dora Michail and Group Digital Director of the Trinity Mirror Piers North. Jaschke claimed that the duopoly has created an echo chamber for news, in which we are only consuming points of views from likeminded people, rather than a more objective view, which may be things that we do not want to hear. Michail and North rationalised that news brands can have their own agendas and that it is up to them to create content that audiences choose to consume.
The showstopper for the day was the inflammatory Richard Kramer, former analyst for investment brands such as Goldman Sachs, whose presentation was a total whirlwind of shouting, arm flapping and big red text splattered over yellow boxes on slides. After managing to pick my jaw up off the floor, I think that what he was doing was comparing some tech companies to gangsters.
An outstanding panel debating AI, VR and Blockchain featured Dominic Stone (Media Industry Solutions Executive for IBM), Greg Furber (VR Director at REWIND) and Stacy Huggins (CMO of Madhive), all singing the merits of their respective technology. Stone claimed that the robots are not coming to take over, but are ensuring that the analysts step their game up, with AI being the “architect for disruption”. Furber assured that in a few years to come there will be 20m VR headsets in the UK and that the power of advertising via this medium will be the best experience in the world ever – messing with our memories all at the same time! Huggins talked about the process of data sharing and digital campaign implementation, with her company’s ambition to do away with arbitrage by bringing buyers and sellers closer together (like Uber and Airbnb).
All in all, it was a great day of learning and although I didn’t agree with some of the bashing debating that went on, it made for excellent thought provocation.