Quantcast Supernova 2017

More than 500 advertisers from across Europe attended Quantcast’s latest Supernova event. The host of the afternoon was the magnificent mathematician Hannah Fry who started the presentation with some Mathematics of Love, explaining what defines a low-risk and high-risk relationship.

We heard from some of the biggest names in the ad world such as Rory Sutherland, VC Creative Director at Ogilvy One and writer for The Spectator’s Wiki Man column; Jon Mew, the CEO of IAB UK, as well as from brands and publishers – Sue Hunt, Sales Director at The Mail Online; Nic Travis, Head of Digital Marketing at MBNA and Philip Sandler, Digital Marketing at Homeserve.

They were also joined by some big Hollywood names – Riz Ahmed, hero of Disney’s Rogue One, Neil Corbould, Special Effects Supervisor (he won the Oscar for Special Effects for The Gladiator and Gravity) and Ben Morris, Creative Director at ILM known for visual effects in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Gravity and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The panellists revealed a Hollywood secret – it’s not magic, it’s a lot of work and late nights behind every second of a film.

The main theme was Machine learning, AI and the role of technology in the advertising industry. Machine learning gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed, take advantage of the efficiencies and it’s based on three pylons: data, model and decision.

Peter Day, Quantcast’s Head of Engineering in Europe explained how advertising can take advantage of the latest technology to reach their customers more effectively at scale. Marketers speak a lot about data and spend lots of time on projects that fail. Data is observation, but it’s not always simple to interpret and it doesn’t fit all the patterns. Nevertheless, we need a model – a mathematical fraction to help us explain the figures, make predictions and turn data into insights.  What separates companies are decisions, we have to find patterns in data otherwise all the information can be very messy and unnecessary.

Rory Sutherland gave an amazing presentation warning of the dangers of unimaginative thinking in the ad industry and also about one of the most important goals of marketers: building consumer trust. Rory pointed out that: “Any idiot can sell things by dropping the price” but you have to make your customer and audience trust you. He gave the example of Uber which has brought innovation to the market, giving us the certainty that the cab will arrive (i.e. location tracking) and actually made public transport more reliable. See his recent article in The Spectator for the full story. And Rory’s final advice was: “Test counterintuitively because your competitors won’t”.


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