Thursday, October 27, 2016
  • Tuesday, Sep. 27, 2016
IAB MIXX Conference Addresses Advertising’s New World Order; Reinvention Of Media, Platforms, Creative
Day One Speakers Include McDonald’s Deborah Wahl, 360i's Bryan Wiener, The Zoo's Lars Bastholm, RGA's Nick Law
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Day One of the 2016 IAB MIXX Conference saw marketers, advertising executives, publishers, and technologists coming together to share insights about the reinvention of media, platforms, creative, and business models. Randall Rothenberg, president and CEO of IAB, kicked off the day by welcoming brand marketers, ad agency executives, publishers, and technologists. The theme this year is “Advertising’s New World Order,” acknowledging the innovation and chaos seen on every platform, and consumers’ demand for more original, personal, and provocative experiences. Consumers are now in control, and they are rejecting experiences that don’t meet their desires, adopting ad-blocking software at alarming rates. Rothenberg highlighted four big questions that we, as an industry, need to answer: First, in the evolving world of platforms, who lives, who dies, and who thrives? Second, does display advertising have a future for brands, and will big brand support increasingly flow to premium video, native advertising, branded content, and more customized experiences? Third, can great journalism survive? Finally, how—if at all—can the next consumer craze be predicted?

Initiatives announced
The organization announced the release for public comment a complete overhaul of the “IAB Standard Ad Unit Portfolio.” The new portfolio is fully responsive, allowing creative to scale across devices. Developed by the IAB Tech Lab, the portfolio incorporates the tenets of the LEAN Principles—Light, Encrypted, Ad-Choice Supported, Non-Invasive ads—and encompasses display, mobile, video, and native, as well as guidelines for new content experiences such as emoji and virtual reality. The public comment period will run until November 28, and comments can be sent to  More information can be found at

A report titled “Is Virtual the New Reality?: A Market Snapshot of VR Publishing and Monetization” was also released by the IAB Mobile Marketing and Digital Video Centers of Excellence. The report offers key takeaways, lessons learned, and future plans in the emerging fields of virtual reality, augmented reality, and 360-degree video. Also announced was a study by Yahoo uncovering the ways advertisers can artfully integrate, craft, and distribute their brand stories. The Yahoo Storytellers creative studio report can be found at

Rothenberg went on to address diversity and highlight progress that the IAB Education Foundation and its iDiverse initiative have made. He announced an East Coast partnership with the Borough of Manhattan Community College and asked companies to join in taking an industry pledge to reach the Foundation’s goal of 200 digital companies committing to 10,000 jobs for a more diverse digital workforce by 2020. Email to get involved.

Deborah Wahl, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, McDonald’s
Wahl shared her perspectives on the agency of the future and how McDonald’s has, and continues to, embrace digital disruption in the face of market uncertainty. Wahl shared some examples of how McDonald’s has been creating and strengthening a much more real relationship with consumers because the old approaches and labels no longer work. It’s about providing the right experiences, creating more and relevant content, and what McDonald’s has coined “marketing at the speed of now.” Wahl defined how the organization looks at digital, social, and mobile, as well as how they have created a new omnichannel agency that is people-obsessed, behavior-based, rooted with a unified voice, fast, fluid, and effective.

Bryan Wiener, Chairman, 360i
Wiener outlined how and why agencies and marketers need to co-create the agency of the future that will shepherd growth and innovation for brands in the disruptive digital age. Let chaos be a ladder and agency partners be change agents, guiding marketers to the forefront of this rapidly evolving digital world. While there’s no “one size fits all” solution, there are fundamentals that consistently emerge in the successful agency partnerships that lead the way. Wiener explained why frameworks are more important than plans in today’s environment, and how now is the time to turn vulnerabilities into assets. Plan in pencil with nimble teams because the agency of the future, 1) has storytelling that earns attention, 2) uses a data driven approach, and 3) is digital led but not digitally limited.

Kevin Slavin, Faculty and Founder, Playful Systems at MIT Media Lab
Slavin outlined the 15 years that brought us to this point, from the point of view of Area/Code, the company that did much of the pioneering work in the locative gaming space. He started off giving an overview of technology and games that led to Pokémon GO and its astounding growth today. Slavin pinpointed the primary driver of its success, not as being new content or the use of location-based technology, but rather getting back to the desire for people to feel reconnected to the places they live. He led into what he sees as the next frontier for brands: to discover how to build a connection that is real time and synchronized. He challenged everyone to think about how you can make it feel like we are part of each other’s lives.

Slavin, Wahl, and Wiener, joined Rothenberg in a discussion on how brands, agencies, platforms, and publishers can—and should—work together to pursue the opportunities ahead in advertising’s new world order. By focusing on the fundamental needs of people, we can create real connections with consumers. The speakers encouraged participants to change the way and speed you work internally to meet the unmet demand for feeling present with other people, which Slavin predicts will be the future goal.

Lars Bastholm, Global Chief Creative Officer of The ZOO, Google’s creative think tank for brands and agencies
Bastholm shed light on why he thinks the toolbox has never been bigger or more fun. The ZOO’s goal is to do something consumers find useful, usable, and delightful. He shared many examples of innovative things his team is currently working on, including projects with VR and a tool called Tilt brush, Project Soli a gesture-based technology, and Google Home. Bastholm closed by highlighting the need for more collaboration because no one partner can do everything.

Additional highlights
Amy Benford, global media director of Campbell’s Soup Company; Stephen Gold, chief marketing officer and VP, Business Development at IBM Watson; and Jeremy Steinberg, global head of sales at The Weather Company, an IBM Business, debuted a first look at the Watson ad with The Weather Company and early brand adopter, Campbell’s Soup Company. Today, with the prevalence of AI technologies, it’s possible to build “thinking” capabilities into virtually every digital application, product, and system. Steinberg discussed how Watson ads can listen, think, and respond, ultimately allowing for one-to-one communication between brands and the customer. Businesses will be able to gain additional insight to optimize their strategies, ultimately transforming the experiences with ads.

Dave Etherington, chief strategy officer at Intersection, and Sarah Jones, manager of Connections Capabilities at Anheuser-Busch InBev, discussed how brands are shifting to take advantage of a new frontier in advertising innovation, and how the integration of the digital and physical worlds will shape our future cities. Etherington highlighted the benefits of digital out-of-home advertising, specifically work they have done on LinkNYC, and discussed the ability to achieve enormous scale, responsiveness, uniformity, and proximity to retail with the channel. Jones added the importance of understanding the consumer’s behavior and adding value for consumers at the right time.

For the final keynote of the day, Nick Law, vice chairman, global chief creative officer at R/GA, addressed what Madison Avenue can learn from Silicon Valley and vice versa. Traditionally there has been an inability for the two cultures to come together: story and system. Each side needs to recognize they can learn from each other to achieve the greatest success. Law shared how R/GA approaches the “the whole idea,” where they try to balance simplicity and possibility, so that creative context and creative capital can meet and work from the bottom up. He closed by encouraging the participants to understand what a user does and then build the brand story.