News in Tech: Web Summit 2015 Highlights

Louise Gordon-Jones in Advertising

in Advertising

Last week I was lucky enough to be representing ADTEKR in Dublin at Web Summit 2015 which saw 42,000 people come together from all over the world to meet, listen and talk tech. I spent two jam packed days listening to a range of industry leaders talk about how technology is influencing them and their businesses. It was also an opportunity to meet exciting start-ups from around the world, most of who were exhibiting and on the hunt for some serious investment from the VCs roaming the floors. Although I spent a fair amount of time at the marketing summit it was also interesting to look at the broader tech industry and how technology is impacting not just advertising but also music, sport, TV, healthcare and how we socialise. On the theme of social I am very thankful to my friends at moodoo who were chosen as part of the Alpha programme to exhibit at Web Summit this year and took me as their guest. Next week, we’ll be featuring an article covering their start-up experience of Web Summit here on ADTEKR.

So, as well as our weekly traditionally adtech-focused post (looking at the rise of AppNexus), this week we also open the site up to the wider tech audience to bring you some highlights and insights from Web Summit 2015 below.

Advertising and Brands

From a selfishly ADTEKR perspective it was great to listen to Head of Adtech at Facebook, Dave Jakubowski, discuss marketing in the digital age and how marketers can set themselves apart. A large part of this was focused on mobile: in 2014 more time was spent on mobile than watching the TV. The last time such a shift happened was when TV took over from radio as the most dominant form of consumer interaction. At that point everything in pop culture changed to accommodate this seismic shift in consumer expectation. Brands now need to be where their consumers are, which is on the mobiles most of the time. Despite this Dave spoke to the issue of consumers being across everything, highlighting the cross device problem. Brands have so many diminutive pieces of information but rarely have a complete story. Statistic wise: 4/10 of all transactions will be completed on a different device from the one where the journey began. Beyond the cross device conundrum Dave’s message: native is king. In his view, which many share, the mobile banner is as bad as the pop up. His broader opinion, interrupting people on their most personal device is just rude. Instead content needs to be native and integrated, in line with brand values.

4/10 of all transactions will be completed on a different device from the one where the journey began.

Another interesting talked looked at app v web for brands. Interestingly the conclusion was fairly simple – both need to be mobile friendly but whichever one you use the key is making the consumer login across devices. Because once a consumer logs in a silo of rich data is created.

Next up was a focus on the “adblockalypse” (covered extensively on ADTEKR) and how targeted advertising is performing in general. Three key things need to change: frequency caps, transparency on data so users don’t get irrelevant content and content being delivered in the correct format.  The view of Harry Kargman, Founder of Kargo on adblocking provided a great forum for discussion as he likened it to stealing, ripping music, and illegal downloads. His argument – non-subscription publishers need ads as a revenue source. Despite this he acknowledged that publishers do need to work better to produce faster loading and better placed content. He discussed the need for new ways to integrate advertising onto sites. Humans are naturally intrigued and advertisers need to use that to their advantage. For example, if a picture has a silvery overlay the user will be more likely to click on it and then that click through can take you to the branded content.

So, if 2015 saw the industry get to grips with the role of adblocking and also admit that online advertising has its issues, what next for 2016?  Pages will need to load faster, content will need to be better, and choice will need to be the norm, allowing consumers to take an active role. The message – advertising as a whole is not inherently bad. Take the Superbowl or the excitement and engagement around Christmas averts we see each year. This positivity in advertising needs to be brought to digital advertising, and fast.

Additionally, investment from brands underwriting content will continue to be important and we will see more and more of it as brands find ways to integrate with great content which reaches users effectively rather than intrusively. The industry will also continue to see the new eco system develop where real people are creating rich new content, via social media, as brands find ways to leverage that more effectively. For some brands this is a scary prospect as they hand their brand equity over to new controllers.

Virtual Reality (VR)

A big focus this year on VR. Palmer Lucky, Founder of Oculus VR discussed bringing VR to the masses with a packed audience keen to hear from the inventor. Not just focused on gaming Palmer talked about how VR will change the way that future generations are educated in schools, and how medicine is taught. There will come a point in the future where VR will be cost effective and high enough quality so that it appeals to the masses, until that happens VR will remain niche. However, Palmer foresees a world where one day VR will be more ubiquitous than the smartphone, where it will form a vital part of how we make relationships and share experience as they happen: as the smartphone does today.


DJ Steve Angello and manager Brian Message discussed how the music industry has changed and the role that technology has had. The overall message – streaming has changed things but not necessarily for the worse, it is the “language of the business”. The changes in the way music is sold has resulted in a huge shift within the industry as a whole, with creators being far more involved in their music as a business. Young artists are now like start-ups, facing similar opportunities and challenges. Despite the fact that the music business is more accessible than ever today, talent is still the key especially for those artists who are entering the industry organically. There is no right to success.

Streaming has changed things, but not necessarily for the worse. The changes in the way music is sold has resulted in …. creators being far more involved in their music as a business.

DJ Steve Angello

Angello argued that the result of streaming services like Spotify mean that things are actually more transparent than ever before. Spotify can feedback vast quantities of data to artists which was not previously available. Artists can now be fully in tune with who is listening to them and how frequently. Additionally the move away from Radio as the main promotion channel is no bad thing. In Radio people move on quickly, in streaming people come back for more and listen to back catalogues.

Angello has worked in partnership with some key tech partners such as Google and commented that things were more inspiring and exciting than ever as a musician engaged with technology. Simply licensing content from the label is not the single way and we will continue to see more and more collaborations within the music and tech sector, with new revenues streams and new opportunities for advertising and creating content.


John Petter, CEO of BT Consumer, made a tough but successful sell that BT should be considered a disruptor in the TV sector. Asked how BT was looking to work with start-ups John said that there is still an issue with connectivity inside the home and that start-ups have the energy and passion to drive change within that area to produce the technology and a viable solution. The role of VR on the TV was considered in a discussion on “TV in the digital age”, with many agreeing that VR channels on the TV will be leveraged via a subscription model and that audiences are willing to pay for premium services. Equally the message around TV was not to underestimate the power of live which in a digital age is most likened to the way users interact with social media.


In the final hour on the second day of Web Summit the vast centre stage suddenly became packed to the rafters. One of the world’s biggest success stories in social apps, Sean Rad, co-founder and CEO of Tinder took to the stage. The stats were astonishing – 1.5 million dates in a week, 9 billion matches in total to date, 1.8 billion swipes in a day. Sean’s dream – simply to connect the world. One thing is for certain, this guy is passionate about what him and his team do. And that is inspiring for an audience full of start-ups to hear.

Tinder now achieves 1.8 billion swipes every day and has created 9 billion matches in total

Everyone knows that Tinder gets some bad press, and no doubt people have complaints about the way it has changed the way people meet. Sean’s defense to this is when you do something disruptive that will always be the case, not to shy away from it but to stick to the message you set out to achieve and ignore the bad noise. Is it making money, the big question to the notoriously guarded founder? The answer, yes. How? Tinder plus, think Tinder but with super match making powers and most importantly to ADTEKR readers, through advertising. Sean said that Tinder has only just scratched the surface of advertising on the platform and has some exciting things in the pipeline (see our article earlier this year on Tinder and brands). He did stress that Tinder will always have a free element in line with his vision of connecting people.

Asked what Tinder thinks about its competitors he said “it’s a bad business model to just want to be someone else”. And as that was my last day that was the last message that ADTEKR took away from Web Summit this year, which to any start-up in any sector, anywhere in the world seems like a pretty good lesson to me.

Hopefully see you in Lisbon 2016.

News in Tech: Web Summit 2015 Highlights was last modified: November 13th, 2015 by Louise Gordon-Jones