9 things we learnt at the IAB Digital Summit


By Debbie McIntyre, Head of Insights

The overarching theme at this year’s IAB Digital Summit in March was one of personalisation.

When it comes to digital marketing, all the speakers concurred that it’s all about send the right content to the right people at the right time, using data and analytics to decide when, who and what is right.

Here are some of key takeaways we took note of for our own business.

  1. Understand the Customer Genome

Keynote speaker Didier Uljasz, MD of Accenture Interactive, said consumers are more likely to buy from retailers if they feel recognised and remembered, and if they receive relevant recommendations. Brands therefore need to personalise their customer campaigns.

  1. Invest in journalism

“If all we do is aggregate and storify and don’t invest in solid journalism, fake news will flourish,” said Ferial Haffajee, Huffington Post SA Editor-at-Large, who pointed out the fact that it is the journalists in this country who are trying to keep government accountable. Despite this, journalism remains one of the most underpaid professions.

“Invest in content,” echoed Melissa Atree, Creative Director, Ogilvy. “Good content takes time and requires a lot of resources”.

  1. Collaborate on content marketing

“Brands need to collaborate with editorial houses to produce branded content that is authentic,” said Melissa Atree. Whether it’s influencers or publishers, “experiment, be brave and collaborate with people who have a better reach and authority than you”.

  1. Storytelling is not a one-way street

“It’s all about the community,” says Davin Phillips, Director of influencer marketing agency Celebrity Services Africa. “A brand is no longer what we tell the customer it is – it is what the customers tell each other it is”. “Create campaigns that give your customers a pivotal role in their creation, so that they buy into your brand and act as brand ambassadors on social media,” he advises.

  1. Don’t be THAT irritating person at the party

Jessy Severins, Ad Operations and Yield Manager for Gum Tree, compared brands that aren’t correctly targeting their ads to “that irritating person at the party that doesn’t stop talking”. Timing is everything, she says, be appropriate, handpick the right programmatic audience and serve “the right ads to the right users at the right time”.

  1. Don’t get lazy with programmatic

“In the world of programmatic, there is no room for lazy marketing,” says Jessy Severins. “Agencies and brands should define and test audiences together and publishers should have audience data available”.


  1. Stop putting tech before creative content

Alexandra Saloman, Senior Director, International IAB, asserted that instead of pushing the latest tech in the faces of our users, “regardless of the toll on user experience, dignity and relevancy”, we should be aligning our campaigns with the core advertising principle of “consumer delight”. Technology is simply an enabler of this, she said. Light, encrypted, ad-choice supported, non-invasive ads will become the new digital ad currency, she said.

  1. Create good mobile ads

If 75% of global internet access is via mobile in 2017, it’s time we found a way to create mobile ads that are not disruptive or irrelevant to users. Leonel Silva, Media Partnerships Director EMEA at Celtra, called on the industry to improve on mobile ad creativity by using data and insights to come up with responsive, disruption-minimising formats, relevant messaging and engaging content.

  1. Stop trying to do it yourself

Something that struck us in the closing of Lee Naik, CEO Transunion Africa’s, presentation was the idea that you don’t have to go the digital journey alone. Big corporates like to build up internal agencies and capacity, but there are thousands of digital companies out there who have a lot more knowledge than you and can do things quicker and better than you. Use them.

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Debbie McIntyre, Head of Insights