Dale Gall, CEO, Lowe Profero on the lessons Silicon Valley has to teach UK adland
Last week I was privileged to be on the IPA/UKTI West Coast Interactive Mission, spanning San Francisco and Los Angeles.
It was a privilege because of the unparalleled access the UKTI and the IPA got us to the people shaping Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter and verticals such as Robotics, VR, new ad tech in mobile, data, talent management and content production. We met the AirBnB of car hire – watch out for Turo. We learned about Bitcoins and the underlying Blockchain from a salesmen so compelling I was willing to invest my daughter’s education fund by the end of it – that was until I met Virgin Galactic and decided to spend it on going in to space instead.
It was also a privilege because of the talented crew of media, ad, IPA and digital leaders I was lucky enough to spend the week with.
So yes, I drunk the cool aid (amongst other things) – but I also learned a few things.
First, San Francisco is not LA.
I am not talking about the Trip Advisor elements –there was no time for that. I am talking in terms of business. The first wave, Google and Facebook have cracked the media model, but for the rest, it is a Hedge Fund driven mentality. Awash with speculative capital, it is less about making money and more about driving scale and innovation - FAST. They are all pushing new, innovative features.
Trouble is they are all converging in to the same place around short form video and curated moments.
As all these big social platforms lose their first mover advantage and crowd in to the same space they are starting to realise they need to build the brand and be more ideas led. This is not just about their brand, in order to make money whilst not destroying the platform with brand spam, they desperately need consumer brands to deliver higher quality, more engaging idea led content that makes the most of the platforms capabilities – even hacks it.
This is where we come in. We cannot only help make brands more distinct and engaging to drive a competitive advantage – we can help these platforms craft competitive advantage against each other.
Second, LA is “show me the money”.
They are more focused on selling a core product, honed pitches and the commercial opportunity. They have a lot of time to work this out in traffic jams.
In LA it was the things you did not expect that were the most interesting. There are some fascinating Adtech plays trying to solve big media delivery and data problems across the disaggregated media platforms and mobile. Solutions, that if they deliver, will give us all more room to elevate up to strategy, insights and ideas - whilst ensuring better execution (faster, more targeted, more relevant). New media content models that offer end to end solutions from identifying and curating the best emerging creators, commissioning content and distributing it via their own media channels on Apple TV, SnapChat and Amazon (as well as the creators own huge social reach).
So how does this all apply to us?
1. They need our ideas more than ever.
Silicon Valley has created the platforms that have fuelled an Age of Access. This shift from the Age of Transmission we all thrived in has seen us lose focus and confidence as an industry. We have often felt the need to innovate at the speed of Silicon Valley. But instead we should focus on this question.
When everyone can access everything, anytime “why would I access your thing?” – the subconscious consumer question.
This is the battle that our creative ideas can help brands and media platforms win.
2. Partnership is key.
We cannot move as fast as Silicon Valley (Or Cheng Du). But we can use their innovation. The Adtech, the innovative ways of producing content etc. whilst avoiding spending big on stuff that will be outdated by the time you launch it. Like the Book of Mormon says, be more polygamous with tech, experiment– and then be distinct by going back to point 1.
3. Have the confidence of Richard Branson.
To date 551 humans have gone in to space. Virgin Galactic already has over 700 bookings and raised £130m in ticket sales. All without a launch date, because, as lead engineer’s t-shirt says; Branson decided, “Space is a virgin territory”.
4. Maybe, do not get paid in Bitcoins, just yet.
For further insights from the Mission, view the IPA’s Storify, see the photos, visit #createuk and read about the key highlights from some of the delegates, as featured throughout last week on ‘The Drum’:
The IPA will also be running a 44 Club on the key lessons from Silicon Valley for UK adland on 30th November. Book your tickets here.
Last updated 19/11/2015