IAB UK 2018 Digital Upfronts urges marketers to create more immersive brand connections with customers

By Irina Puzakova

The annual IAB UK Digital Upfronts took place in October this year where the UK’s leading content creators and media owners showcased their premium digital advertising opportunities for 2019. I was fortunate enough to attend some interesting sessions and would like to share my key learnings, which focus on driving more ‘meaningful’ attention to brands efforts through more immersive and world class storytelling.

Drawing attention to attention deficit

Many publishers voiced their concerns over fleeting attention spans and encouraged brands to work harder than ever to win the hearts and minds of consumers.

  • Facebook urged marketers to ‘stand out and stand up’ at a session focused on how to get ‘meaningful’ attention to drive positive outcomes. They noted that ‘attention economy’ has shifted more in the past four years than in the last 100. With the reach of commercial television in decline, falling print revenues, the growth of platforms like YouTube and subscription driven services such as Netflix and Spotify, ‘the more quantifiable nature of digital has shined a light on how advertising has always worked’. The latter inferred the importance of considering ways brands could visually and distinctively stand out in cluttered feeds – using the power of surprise and making the audience ‘feel something’.







  • Twitter reiterated how they could get consumers to pay attention to brands through aligning and integrating brand narrative into real time conversations happening on Twitter. The territories that drove the most tweets this year were Football and Entertainment. There were 115 billion tweet impressions during the 2018 World Cup alone, hence Twitter’s Premier League highlights rights extension for the 2020 season. On the entertainment front, #LoveIsland attracted 2.5 billion video views on Twitter with 1.2M tweet authors publishing 11.2M tweets.
  • JCDecaux named their session ‘The Brand Gap’, which focused on the theory and the reality of successful marketing activity. They referenced ‘The Long and The Short of it’ book by IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) which outlines the 60/40 rule and claims brands should aim for 60% long term brand building and 40% short term activation. It was pointed out that OOH is one medium that can achieve both short term results and longer-term brand building, and that Digital OOH is the second fastest growing media channel behind mobile.








Facilitating world class storytelling

Many partners highlighted opportunities where they could help brands to tell their stories in more innovative ways and illustrated the importance of technology in enabling truly immersive experiences and stories.

  • BBC Worldwide pointed to a new study from BBC StoryWorks, entitled The Science of Memory, whose findings focus on how emotional impact can make branded content more memorable.
  • Oath announced the launch of their global creative tech lab in LA – RYOT Labs. Oath’s film production and branded content unit has the ambition to “push the boundaries of innovation within storytelling” and is “looking to create the next generation of motion picture studios.” It was forecast that technology would take us into the realm of ‘science fiction’ thanks to the many innovations that are likely to emerge on the back of 5G wireless technology, with the new RYOT Lab aiming to ‘use emerging technologies to amplify human emotion’.








In summary, in the transaction-focussed, hyper-targeted state of current marketing, media partners highlighted the importance of brand building and driving emotional response to their messages. Technology keeps evolving and is bound to present even more immersive storytelling opportunities which can further elevate and amplify brand content and drive more meaningful consumer connections.

For more details on the upcoming product launches, opportunities and implications and the full report, please contact emea@omd.com


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