Ahead of Symposium London next week, we caught up with one of our keynote speakers, James Chandler who is CMO at the IAB UK. James told us all about what to expect from his talk at the event as well as what his thoughts are for the future of digital advertising.

Can you tell us a bit more about what we can expect to hear from you at Symposium?

To give some background, here at IAB UK, we think about two things. The first being what needs to be sorted out today – that includes viewability, brand safety measurement, and of course GDPR. The second is looking towards the future and what it means for both brands and advertisers. The future is complex and always changing – there will never be one version of the future.

In my keynote at Symposium London, I will be looking at these two concepts, to identify how we can prepare for the future by looking at what’s worked and failed in the past, and what we never thought would happen. These thoughts will help us understand in which directions the industry might go and there are a lot of learnings to be taken from that.

Can you give us an example of a past learning which marketers should take on board for the coming year?

An important lesson to think about as we create the future is the concept of ‘failing fast’. The future can be a well-travelled path in terms of taking a look at past failures and improving on it. There could be 20 new, shiny things to try – but really, only one or two might make sense to your business. Agencies can be a helpful resource as they can help to pick the most opportune risk to take as they have a perfect mix of generalist (who know lots about your business) and specialists (who know lots about trends, technology and behaviours). Looking back at things that have failed in the past can help us to appreciate where we are now.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities for the year ahead?

I believe this year is the year of voice. There have been so many smart devices created in the recent years and we are probably only using about 1% of what these devices are capable of. For example, most use their Google Home/Amazon Echo as a glorified radio when in fact they have the capacity for so much more. With this new outlet of voice we will need to think entirely differently about advertising because it will now go far beyond the legacy of image and sound. We will need to start considering what will happen when the screens go away and start appearing in different places, perhaps on a car dashboard or on the side of a refrigerator.

2018 is set to be a year of challenges for marketers. What do you think will be the biggest challenges and how should marketers respond?

Looking at the anticipated challenges for 2018 it is nearly impossible to not touch on GDPR. Consent has become paramount and implementing strategies to adhere to the regulations is imperative.

The second challenge is brand safety. Critically, advertisers have the control and choice on where their ads appear online.  Their own brand values can often dictate this.  If you want premium, high quality, very ‘safe’ environments – you can buy those online.  If you want to reach as many people as possible, you can do that too.  Often, it’s hard to do both together. There is of course a grey area somewhere in the middle, but one option must be chosen over the other and it is important to note that one is not necessarily worse than the other – it’s just a matter of preference.

Moving onto trends, one of our recent studies showed that 59% of marketers expressed video as a form of content they are most likely to invest in this year. Where do you think video is heading?

Our own ad spend study every six in partnership with PwC shows the overwhelming growth of mobile and video. When we are talking about digital now we are essentially talking about video. The general message is that if you are not in video, get in video.

What would you say is the most effective space for storytelling at the moment and how do you predict this will change?

Video, absolutely. The amazing “Long and the Short of It” from the IPA stands the test of time and says that emotional stories do far greater than rational stories and the best way to tell stories is via video. It’s important to keep in mind when it comes to new platforms for storytelling that we can’t just use the same stuff as before. We have to rethink, okay where’s it going and what’s the story that I can tell. It might be a two second story in vertical or it might be a 30 second more traditional one but regardless we have to think about the context first.

Don’t miss James Chandler’s keynote at 10:15 – 11:00 at Symposium London. Don’t have a ticket yet? You can register here.