Fetch CEO James Connelly on mobile and old media at Advertising Week New York


By James Connelly | founder and chief executive

October 5, 2014 | 7 min read

Reporting from Advertising Week New York (AWNY), it seems every personality – from Perez Hilton to Dave Grohl – is here to add their voice to the cacophony of panels and sessions. It’s also symbolic of how much closer together the US and UK industries are moving and how many of our successes and challenges are cross-nation. Particularly interesting for me was how much of the AWNY debate was over so-called ‘old media’, and how much embraces new tech.

YouTube vs TV

Social media channels such as YouTube dominated the conversation over TV as advertisers acknowledge that new media, and specifically mobile and tablet devices, now touch pretty much everything. Our very own Jamie Oliver talked YouTube stardom with a panel of (formerly TV) chefs. As TV moves further online the data opportunities grow. You can learn so much more about your audience, get scale and reach for a limited budget and for limited production value. The same can’t be true of getting data from a TV campaign.

James Connelly

Oliver’s online kingdom is of course cross device and he celebrates it for not only being more measurable and trackable, but more personable – whereas he only met his TV audience at book signings and live events before, he feels like he knows his online audience so much better.

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Cross device and commerce

Cross device discussions have been dominant – especially in terms of targeting and attribution. As Oliver says, the more places you can be, the more people you can reach. But as much of the talk is about the struggle to unlock cross device behaviour. While the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn and Yahoo should crack it through their sign in processes, the next leap in tech will be able to attribute the same user, at different period of the purchase funnel, on a different devices.

As a session on How the Mobile Consumer is Affecting eCommerce highlighted, 67 per cent of consumers start shopping on one device and finish on another, while 40 per cent of desktop purchases had a mobile or tablet exposure. It means that around 50 per cent of orders and visits are not being properly tracked. So what solutions were given?

  • People-based targeting, for one. We have the data – the opportunity is to take that CRM data and match it with other platforms that hold user info, then build a complete profile. Custom audience is 57 per cent more efficient than interest-based targeting.
  • People-based measurement. As we move from a cookie identity based world, platforms like Facebook have huge opportunity and reach.
  • Ad formats (the opportunity to have immersive, design heavy interruptive experience on your most important screen). In my opinion, this is one of the most underleveraged opportunities in mobile marketing.

People first, cookies second

The overall advice? Stop thinking about digital marketing programmes from a cookies perspective and start thinking from people perspective. Cookies have limitations. Think of mobile as user, not a cookie. As mentioned in the 'Twitter and Facebook: Why isn’t mobile ad spend up' panel, cross device is a mindset. Devices are just proxies for where in their day someone is.

It was interesting to hear about (in 'From Campaign to Commerce: How technology is changing the ecommerce marketing equation') not just cross device but cross functional programmes for retailers. Dunkin Donuts – who are one of the US leaders in embracing tech successfully – ensure the crew in all of their restaurants are trained in technology and mobile. The restaurant brand is often defined by the crew that interacts with the guests daily and recognise they need to embrace mobile as well, not just the C-suite.

Mobile challenges

I took part in a C-suite panel on mobile, which raised some interesting issues about barriers to mobile adoption across the industry. Here the US and the UK definitely align. Barriers include mindsets – particularly of older CMOs; 3rd party cookie based mentality and the reliability of screen size – people aren't adapting creative correctly. Universally the biggest obstacle is also the biggest opportunity – the consumer is going from physical to digital and back again. There’s a need for marketers to start taking people back to the physical world and lead them back into digital seamlessly though mobile.

Two of the biggest myths in mobile were also explored. That mobile lacks measurability – really, mobile is the most measurable channel. And that mobile is a channel – it’s actually a platform. Don't think of it in a two dimensional way.


As the automation of the ad industry filters into mobile, programmatic buying on mobile also made up a good proportion of the debate. And it’s no wonder as, according to AOL Platforms, 90 per cent of brands and agencies plan to increase their use of programmatic buying of display, video and mobile ads by more than half in the next six months.

Programmatic is about how we use mobile to drive real world behaviour when we can measure real-world impact. We still see direct buys out-perform programmatic – we believe programmatic provides more transparency and efficiency. It will reverse the TV model; instead of using data about programming to find the best placements, marketers will be able to use data about their audiences to identify them. Yet this still falls into the “work in progress” section; we’re actively tackling it head on as an industry.

The uniting mobile advertising theme was about brands edging closer to personalising their approach. And this personalisation also filters through to the consumer. As people gravitate to devices that are more personal, priorities change and things like aesthetics are all important (take the ugly Google Glass, for example).

My three predications for developments between now and next year’s Advertising Week NY? The Apple Watch will flop, laptops will die, and we will see tablet/laptop hybrid emerge.

James Connelly is co-founder and CEO of Fetch


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