Google @ MEC Day 2 – The future of media is data

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MEC’s seminal Google week continued today with an action packed day of data, technology and panel discussions around the future of media. We were fortunate enough to be joined by some of the most senior people at Google today including Matt Brittin, VP of Google operations across Nothern and Central Europe, Eileen Naughton, MD and VP of Google operations in the UK and Ireland and Mark Howe, MD of agency sales across Northern and Central Europe.

Today’s focus was data, the use of it and why we need to start embracing it if we are keep up with consumers. The point about, very much being at the start of the journey was reiterated by Matt Brittin in the morning session. He again spoke of the further five billion users that will be coming online in the next five years and how this is the future we should be preparing for. How this is what inspires and motivates Google.

Moving on to talk about data and the landscape at present he used the analogy of Felix baumgartner, the Austrian sky diver who broke the sound barrier without an airplane by jumping from a space capsule 39km’s above the earth. The point he was illustrating is that the media industry, like Felix has only one option (when it comes to data) and that’s to jump in. We are a massive data rich industry and we have tools and insights coming out our ears that can tell us who is online when, searching for what, using which device and so on. The challenge is how do we leverage that data to keep up with consumer behaviour? In 202o five billion people will be using 20 billion connected devices. He made the discerning and somewhat scary point that the rate of change today is slower than it will ever be in the future.  So what do agencies and client need to do? Matt put forward a three pronged approach. Show up, Wise up and Speed up. 

Show up
Brands need to be alert and listen to their target audience. They need a long term approach to communicating with their consumers. Gone are the days when you need to be the biggest player in the market  to make an impact. Barriers to entry in a lot of markets are lower than they’ve ever been. He gave the example of working with renowned vlogers to create product partnerships that benefit both the vloger and the brand. He gave the example of the Old Spice campaign featuring Isaiah Mustafa that was launched on YouTube not because they wanted a digital first marketing campaign but because they didn’t have the money for an all singing all dancing TV campaign. That ad led to Old Spice becoming the best selling body wash in America. Another example is DollerShaveClub.com a small started-up co-founded by comedian Michael Dubin. The idea being – you subscribe and for a dollar a month they’ll send you razor blades for shaving with. The video created by Dubin was so successful people thought it was a spoof but it’s a genuine challenger to the likes of Gillette and Wilkinson Sword with nowhere near the same clout or capital behind it. In today’s market constraint can lead to brilliant innovation. If you have a great idea and make yourself relevant you can compete.

Wise up
We need to start working smarter, not harder. We have access to reams and reams of data. We need to start making better decisions off the back of that data and reacting to how consumers are behaving in the market. Traditionally brands are very protective things like brand value and to an extent they should be but at the end of the day it’s the consumers that own brands and we need to cater that. Increasing visibility of your brand is also very important in this context and having multiple touch points is essential. Your brand needs to be accessible to consumers, they need to be able to find you and interact with you on their terms. Lastly then, brands need to be ‘real time’. They need to react to what consumers are asking in real time, react to what they’re doing in real time.

Speed up
Consumers are shaping the way we buy goods and services both online and in the physical world. Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and others have enabled consumers to get recommendations from their friends instantly, compare products while in store and find the best deals available. Brands at present simply aren’t prepared for this. In the evening session Eileen Naughton spoke about how few brands have mobile optimised sites and how this leads to a 82% drop off in sales due to bad UX. At a recent event in Manchester she recalled a delegate who compared a poor mobile website to a physical shop with clothes thrown everywhere and a lock on the till. Brands need to embrace digital because consumers have. Brands need an injection of talent that will bring digital and mobile awareness to the forefront.

Throughout all of today’s session the things that came up time an time again were:

  • Data is the future.
  • Technology is absolutely key.
  • We’re at the start of a very exciting journey.
  • Brands and agencies need work smarter to keep up with the consumer.
  • Constraint can lead to innovation. You don’t need the biggest budget to have the best campaign.
  • Creativity has never been more important.

A big thanks goes to all the speakers and others Googlers and MECers who have helped and continue to help make this events so great. Stay tuned for more posts tomorrow and throughout the week.