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Blog IAB UK Engage Conference 2018

IAB UK Engage Conference 2018

On Thursday, we spent the day at The Barbican for the IAB UK's Engage conference.

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The stage was set, and some of the brightest minds gathered at the Barbican for the 14th edition of the IAB UK’s Engage event.

Breaths were baited and eyes sharpened on the lookout for another potential Ken Fawes switcheroo (the most show stopping talk of last year’s conference). But even though we were not duped this time, we did get to hear from a wealth of interesting speakers from the world of digital advertising.

The focus of this year’s IAB Engage was ‘moving forward’ and we heard a lot about how the world around us is ever-changing, often faster than we can adapt. Change and learning as a business is hard but, despite our reservations, we must persist.

The IAB UK’s CEO, Jon Mew kicked off proceedings, stressing the importance of the IAB’s Gold Standard - launched in January 2018; it has already certified 27 businesses, highlighting the importance of consumer protection when it comes to advertising.

Highlights included Keith Weed from Unilever who highlighted the 3 Vs:

  • Viewability
  • Verification
  • Value

Keith said self-regulation is the way to go and shared his opinion that agencies have not been fast enough to change; they should be ahead of brands so they can offer them their product. Keith’s message was, “simplify the complexity and I’ll buy your product”.

Tom Goodwin of Zenith was another highlight and perhaps the funniest of the day’s speakers, on the topic of advertising for the post digital age. According to Tom, we are currently in a mid-digital age where we have a lot of the tech, but it doesn’t all quite work in the way it should. In Tom’s opinion, a lot of “new tech” is in fact just old tech through a digital lens. A post digital age will not be re-purposing. He encouraged us to approach marketing as if we don’t know what marketing is ‘meant’ to look like. And, contrary to what we often hear, Tom argues that millennials are in fact the easiest group to reach, as they are constantly glued to their phones. 

As a film fan, I was particularly keen to hear from Billy Corbyn of Unskippable Labs at Google and Olivia McMonagle, Digital Lead at Twentieth Century Fox on the unskippable future of advertising. They presented a case study on The Greatest Showman, showcasing how they used editorial content in advertorials in order to make things unskippable and engage with viewers at the right time to peak their interest. It must have worked, as The Greatest Showman stayed in the UK Box Office top 10 for over 12 weeks after release, spawning a number of sing-a-long screenings across the country to boot.

There were a few break out sessions, including Rak Patel from Spotify on music and culture and how Spotify utilises its platform not just to increase users, but to support social change. Rak highlighted Spotify's ‘I’m with the Banned’ campaign that brought together artists on America’s travel ban list, as well as the ‘Smirnoff Equaliser’ campaign, which aimed to get us all to equalise our music listening habits across gender (a campaign that Red Apple Creative proudly worked on).

The day rounded off with the IAB UK’s very own James Chandler in conversation with documentarian and journalist, Stacey Dooley - the headline act if you will. Stacey has had a whirlwind career, starting with the BBC at just 21. She discussed her career and how she feels social media can be a tool for good and can help empower young people, especially girls.

Until next year!


Niki Alexandrou,

Audio Production Manager

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