Web Summit 2015 has been yet another resounding success. For what it’s worth I think it’s a real shame that it’s leaving Dublin, and I think the organizers have handled the challenges poorly, but hey ho, let's not even get into that here!!
Is it worth going?
So people ask me what I get out of it – for me it’s about getting a really strong view of what’s coming down the tracks. It’s like a brief flash forward to some extent. This tech space is changing so quickly, it’s critical to stay up to date, not just with what tools & technology are available now, but also being prepared for what’s coming next. I find that extremely helpful for conversations with clients to help them future-proof their activities as much as possible, and consider new opportunities, and perhaps even different ways of thinking about solving current problems.
Another key thing I love about Web Summit is exposure to how latest technology developments are impacting any number of industries, which I would not otherwise be exposed to, e.g. fashion, sport, infrastructure, medical, space travel etc.
One disappointment for me was how the gender balance is still WAY WAY off. On Tuesday & Wednesday in particular, aside from the Marketing Stage, there was a phenomenal majority of men in attendees, speakers, startups etc. I am glad that the folks at WebSummit team are committing to change this, but for me, it feels like there's such a long way to go in terms of women being represented in the tech space.
So what are my big takeaways:
- Iterate fast – Mike Grieger from Instagram shared how much the Instagram algorithm has changed so extensively in just 5 years.
- David Rusenko Founder of Weebly says to focus on 2 things – 1.Product:market fit & 2. Build a great team. For user testing testing as few as 5 people gives a huge amount of the insight you need.
- Jeff Lawson – Twilio - You must have conviction about your business & the difference you are making, in order to stay the course.
- Christine Herron, Intel Capital - VC advice – Focus on Team, product & customer acquisition.
Insights about marketing & technology today:
- MOBILE – 30% of eCommerce is happening on mobile, with Asia leading the globe. Mollie Spilman of Criteo says 'Very' brand in UK carry out 60% of sales on MOBILE!
- CODING – Marketers need to start learning to code now (Uh Oh – back to school for me) – Tomas Puig, CMO Emarsys
- PHOTOS & VIDEO – Several speakers spoke about the transition from visual content to video content & the importance of how people engage with video content to help bring stories to life – Mike Grieger Instagram, Nicola Mendelson Facebook, Anna Dickson Google.
- EMAIL – Big Question was posed to lots of speakers – Is Email dead? 1 answer – it’s like the cockroach of digital – will be impossible to kill! Other answers - It’s been at the heart of digital & will take 4+ decades for it to go away. It doesn’t allow collaboration, but if it were stripped right back, can still add value. Two important points that come out, from a marketing perspective -1. email enables lots of other sophisticated targeting, and 2. Email & mobile are very congruent, so dismiss email at your peril.
- ADBLOCKING – Publishers need to create better experiences so people don’t want to block ads. Their has been too much bad creative for years, users will not tolerate it. Must integrate valuable customer experiences on interactive commercial assets, e.g. built in calculators etc. Ultimately requires us to go to Native solutions, and focus on good content.
- IMPRESSION BASED BUYING: Will likely need to evolve, and perhaps time based online media buying is more relevant as indicator of captureing audiences & attention Shenan Reed – MEC
- PUBLISHERS: Mobile first is key priority for all. Also increased video content. Trying to figure out balance between sponsored, branded, native content. 2016 big focus is on data. Native is king. Targeting above all else.
- STRATEGY: Create a customer first model, not a big data model, or even a technology solution - John Sculley ex Apple & Pepsi CMO
Insights about specific platforms:
- Facebook – Evolution from text updates, to imagery, to video. Introducing experiences to enhance video consumption e.g. autoplay, and video discover feature just available, to help browse & find more video. Introducing new ways to buy media more aligned to TV, building now for Reach & Frequency across device, to be best value for money. Continue to improve targeting capability via tools like Atlas.
- Messaging Platforms will replace text messaging.
Flash Forward – what’s coming up that we need to be ready for??
- Virtual Reality – again Schrep from Facebook lead the charge with explaining how Oculus Rift – their VR product will be launching next year.
- Virtual Reality will transform medical & healthcare, medical training be much more practical. Also will have applications in Gaming, Education, Defense, Space Travel – Jacki Ford Mornie shared some of the exploration of VR solutions to entertain astronauts en route to Mars – not even kidding!
- Artificial intelligence – Facebook explained how they are investing heavily in technologies which help with photo recognition and other ways they can enhance experiences with Machine learning, on Facebook & Instagram.
- Tech & Fashion converge more than ever – PCH have just hired a high profile fashion exec!
- Hyperloop is revolutionizing transport/infrastructure sector, by building new transport mechanism which will allow travel from east to west cost in 30 mins! (Mind blown again!)
My personal favourite sessions:
- Loved Michael Dell (See disclosure above!)
- Loved Schrep from Facebook (similarly I am biased!) He blew our minds with insights about building drones to fly above Africa to deliver free internet across the continent of Africa. Also explained how Facebook is investing in Artificial Intelligence & Virtual Reality, which was a recurring theme through the summit.
- Founder of Slack – Stewart Butterfield was fantastic, previously also founded Flickr, completely down to earth, sage advice. Did you know Slack has still only 250 employees? – incredible impact at scale!
- Hyperloop session – revolutionizing transport sector - head ready to fall off!
- Even the sheep make you think differently!
So that's my summary - honestly that's the short version!
What about you - what did you like?
What have I missed?