Google on Ad Week: Issues and illusions

The industry stared down big questions at Ad Week Europe, says Google's MD of agency sales, North & Central Europe. Did rose-tinted spectacles color its view?

Google picks out the key questions from Ad Week.
Google picks out the key questions from Ad Week.

LONDON — The big questions driving debate at panel after panel throughout the auditoriums and rooms at Advertising Week Europe can be summed up as below.

There are no absolute cut-and-dry answers to these challenges, but with collaboration (a key word in many sessions); sharing of information; and best practice, we can start devising the solutions.

Are we on the verge of the big "aha" moment for brands and programmatic?

The general consensus is that we are at a tipping point for programmatic as advertisers begin to understand the benefits more clearly. Confidence is building in programmatic being able to deliver what it long promised – relevant messages served to the right person at the right time. Bold brands like Nestlé and BT are seeing positive results and creativity powered by new signals is making the right steps towards regaining its confidence and the swagger of Don Draper.

Is the power of video going to hold the attention of Millennials?

Traditional TV still has a role to play, and the older demographic still watches quality broadcast TV. Nevertheless, consider vloggers like PewDePie who commands more than 35.5 million subscribers and has racked up 8.2 billion video views in the five years since he joined YouTube. That is a mass audience by any definition, and the "do-it-yourself" attitude among young people to creating their own video content is surging. Brands have a great opportunity for partnerships in this world if they have a dialogue with the creators. Oh, and did I say video can be traded programmatically?

What are the factors holding mobile back from realizing its full potential?

Mobile is the great democratizing tool of our age. It allows everyone access to data that can really change people’s lives; in many regions, consumers have jumped straight onto mobile, bypassing desktops altogether. As an ad channel, it is still something of a sleeping giant; as anonymized mobile tracking by device identification becomes more sophisticated and we can harvest more useful contextual data, marketers will seize the opportunity with both hands. (Some more creativity in the actual ads will also help.)

What kind of skills and talents will companies need to recruit to stay successful and competitive in the next decade?

It will be the era of the "smart creative" — the person who understands technology and can talk the language of data but can also bring this alive for business. Of course, these people are a rare breed so the net will have to be cast wide to find them — do not assume that they are all going to be graduates. The more diverse your workforce, the richer the pool of talent you can draw on to help your client.

So, rose-tinted spectacles off and a good clear focus for the future. Not a bad result for four days at BAFTA. See you next year?

Mark Howe is managing director of agency sales, North & Central Europe, at Google.

This article first appeared on

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