The great and the good of tech and marketing gathered in Dublin last week for the Web Summit.
The great and the good of tech and marketing gathered in Dublin last week for the Web Summit—read on for Part 2 of my roundup (and find Part 1 here).
Creating a company culture: Many of the tech CEOs who were interviewed talked about company culture and recruitment as both a major challenge and crucial to their companies’ future amid rapid growth—finding the right people and defining your culture are essential to being successful.
That’s interesting when you consider the talent war raging between these companies and the fact that many of these companies don’t know exactly what they are yet. What is Oculus Rift? Its potential, and the directions it could go, is endless. These are things founders have to define at the speed of light as their inventions, and their functionality, lead the way.
Google fleshes out “search”: Lorraine Twohill, Google’s marketing chief, discussed how she’s built the advertising around not only what Google does (search) but also what that means in human terms—using search to tell stories that resonate with people and interact with them. She’s focusing on highlighting the art, emotion, experience and creative potential of Google and digital platforms by working with artists, using Google’s mapping to create virtual reality games or tours around cities—stretching the creative boundaries to show how inspiring Google’s technology should be. Creating things audiences can participate in is key, Twohill said.
Dazed & Confused’s Jefferson Hack on new media models: Like Vice Media, Dazed & Confused has successfully reinvented itself from magazine into a multimedia channel, branded-content creator and consultancy group. Asked about competitor Vice Media, co-founder Jefferson Hack said Dazed has a bigger female and mainly European audience, and owns more of the cultural and fashion space. “We tell stories from the cutting edge of pop culture, we’re on the fringes,” he said. “We’re a cultural resistance movement.”
Hack also discussed the branded-content platform “Dazed White Label” and the process of creating content in collaboration with brands: “We have to tell them if things look bad. We can’t have ugly content on our platform or it erodes our brand. … That’s why we can’t have programmatic advertising. We can’t have just any advert appearing online.”
The challenge for brands targeting Millennials is to create platforms that are entirely credible and often without any obvious self-benefit. Hack observed of Millennials’ increasing cynicism around marketing: “All brands are trying to reach this group and advertise to them, but in many ways this group don’t want to be sold to; they don’t want to be found.” This echoed sentiments expressed in a Vice Media presentation: that Millennials have been marketed to all their lives and can detect anything self-serving in a nanosecond.
Hack said any platforms trying to reach Millennials must be selfless, rethink their strategy and create projects with a “deep level of cultural authenticity.” He cited Dazed & Confused’s long-term collaboration with Converse to celebrate emerging creatives.
Citizen journalism/activism:From the many talks on the future of media, one theme that stuck out was how news coverage is changing, led by engaged, activist Millennials. Something is definitely happening here—though some of it is relatively shallow (e.g., the rise of hashtag social media activism). Vice has talked a lot recently about how, contrary to popular thought, Millennials are very engaged politically, and this has become a major platform for the brand. Vice has expanded its citizen journalism platform and is launching an environmental news channel, Toxic.
Also aiming at Millennials, the BBC recently launched BBC Trending, an interactive platform for popular videos and consumer-generated coverage. As speakers noted, the functionality of mobile phones now allows for very professional production quality, opening up media coverage to everyone—the smartphone is democratizing media.
John Sculley’s affordable smartphone: John Sculley, ex-CEO of Apple, is launching a brand of affordable phone in China that is also beautiful—following the Apple thread but cheaper. (He says he’s stolen lots of design talent from Apple.) This reminded me of Bloomberg Businessweek’s recent article on affordable smartphones coming of age. Find Sculley’s talk here.
Peter Thiel on Silicon Valley and aging: Caroline Daniel, Weekend editor at the Financial Times, was refreshingly direct in interviewing Silicon Valley icon Peter Thiel—for instance, challenging him on the tech world’s oft-cited “change the world” mission. She was a good match for Thiel, whose responses were thoughtful and eloquent, especially in regard to aging as the next key problem for Silicon Valley to “solve.” Thiel discussed how aging is related to many of the world’s illnesses and how exploring aging’s causes could drive a lot of innovation in medicine. Find his talk here.
Were you at the Web Summit? Tell me what you thought of it: firstname.lastname@example.org.