Another terrific day of industry insight, state-of-the-industry stock taking and top bants courtesy of IABUK!

Alongside the traditional lathering on of Really Rather Big Numbers concerning digital consumption, there were some fantastic case studies, the odd bit of well-disguised sales patter and the usual misty-eyed reflection on how different things are for children today. Two year olds being adept at using an iPad; children growing up without ever seeing a desktop (I just needed that old favourite “daddy what’s a cassette?” to complete the set. SO CLOSE). Under the headline title of the conference, “Digital Britain” there were also a couple of recurring themes throughout the day, including the use of digital display to drive brand awareness rather than just generating DR, and the need for the industry to combat ad blocking simply by creating more engaging, quicker loading and less intrusive copy. And lastly, but of course never least, there were lots of people saying “disintermediate” to us. It wouldn’t be a digital conference without that.

First off, some of those Really Rather Big Numbers…

The number of connected devices in the average home is now 8.3. Every time this figure goes up I always think it’s ludicrously high. I then pause and mutter for a bit while I count on my fingers, and realise that chez nous we’re probably pushing the average up slightly (sixteen I think).

The average person now spends 2 hours, 59 minutes online every day. This is one of those figures that is starting to look a little old hat: if you have a watch on your wrist that is counting how many steps you’re taking, while your phone is automatically updating your podcasts and at home your printer is quietly emailing its manufacturer to ask for more ink, are you ever really off line?

Latest figures put mobile activity at 43% of spend for display advertising for the end of 2015, and during this year it’s expected to cross the 50% Rubicon and become the most common platform for display advertisers.

Elsewhere, programmatic buying is already wallowing in this same digital marketing hegemony, accounting for 60% of display spend; no doubt flicking smug Vs from on high at dear old static buys.

There are 190 channels on YouTube in the UK that have more than 1 million subscribers. The platform now reaches 87% of all online adults in the UK. James Corden has had more than a billion views of his YouTube channel (this was particularly upsetting). This was a big one – YouTube can deliver a greater reach of UK 18-34 year olds than any TV channel. In fact, YouTube on mobile alone can deliver a greater reach of UK 18-34 year olds than any TV channel.

65% of Europe’s internet users shop online, but only 16% of SMEs market themselves online.

Instagram’s 500 million users post 80 million photos per day.

93% of Facebook use is from a mobile device.

Facebook estimate that 3 trillion photographs were taken in 2015- more than in the hundred years preceding it. This is one of those facts that sounds amazing until you think about it. Then it sounds a bit like saying more people own an iPad in 2016 than in the 100 years previously. Or more things were printed in 1478 than in the thousand years previously. More people walked on the moon in 1969 than in the ten thousand years previously. But still (pace Gates, Caxton, Armstrong et al), 500 million people watch a video on Facebook every day; the growth of image and video sharing both speak to a substantial shift in the way we create, share and consume online content.

Onto those dominant themes. A team from MEC spoke about using digital activity to ensure that a brand promoted during the passive stage of the buying cycle was front of mind during the active stage. Similarly, IAB stalwart Amit Kotecha of Quantcast spoke about moving digital activity further up the funnel: balancing short term benefits (DR) with long-term aims (brand) in order to build a stronger ROI over the long term, rather than stacking short term campaigns on top of each other. Up next was Andrew Barke, Google’s Head of Northern Agencies. Continuing the theme he chose to focus on YouTube’s power to raise awareness and build brand, rather than Google’s search product, and spoke of the video platform as a “culture engine”, on which lean-to viewing is quickly outstripping lean-back viewing. To unpick this a little, even though it still has a fantastic range of cat videos, YouTube is increasingly being used as a learning resource on anything from changing a monobloc tap to chucking a javelin.

InSkin media presented on something that struck a chord with me- the tendency of our industry to forget that it’s people we’re ultimately reaching, not “audiences”; the danger of letting technology drive the campaign and not support it; the targeting of cookies and not humans. It’s this sort of activity, we were told, that has led to an increased take up of ad blocking tools- now at 22% of online users. By way of an example we were shown an advert for lager, which had successfully cookied and tracked a male internet user in his thirties all the way to a child’s gaming website that he was using with his daughter on a Saturday morning: right person, but very much the wrong place and the wrong time. This highlighted the value of considering the context of an advert as much as the targeting- someone looking at GQ online may well be worth showing an advert for a high-end watch. Showing that ad to the same person at 2 in the morning while he’s trying to find a minicab is probably far less valuable.

InSkin went on to suggest that the battle to drive up viewability is a pinch point for the industry; that there are two distinct routes that publishers can take to ensure more ads tick the “viewed” box. One route would be to load all the ad copy into the top pane of a webpage, to use more pop ups, to choose smaller ad formats that, being smaller, have less ad to be off screen. The other route would be to work harder to ensure contextual relevance, to invest in and understand eye-tracking technology, to serve ads that only load (and therefore count as an impression that could or couldn’t be viewed) once the page has been scrolled down. We were also challenged to look beyond the view- to consider not just whether an ad was seen, but how long it was seen for: is a view of a skin that is on screen the whole way down the page the same as a view of an MPU in the first pane?

A highlight of the day was a presentation from our friends at Audio Experts. We learned about the massive growth in online listening (Spotify, iTunes, Acast, Jango, and so on). 65% of online listening is through headphones, giving it an even greater intimacy than traditional broadcast radio. With online audio there are also the opportunities to personalise the experience to that particular listener, and to take advantage of binaural technology so as to create an almost 3D-like experience for the consumer. All exciting stuff.

There was also a man wearing his pants outside his trousers. I’m still not sure why.

My favourite neologism of the day: thumbstopping. Outstanding.