Comment: Adtechs and Attention at MAD//Fest 2022

madfest london 2022

Events are back in force this year and last week’s MAD//Fest London proved that there’s nothing better than a real life get together to discuss the big media industry issues of the day.

‘No Guts, No Glory’ was the tagline for this year’s event and there was certainly much to aim for around the seismic shift promised by the Attention Economy.

We asked leaders from the adtech industry to give us their takeaways from the marketing, media and tech disruptor event of the year…

James Leaver multilocalJames Leaver, CEO Multilocal

“This is my first MAD//Fest and I’ve loved it. It’s crazy, it’s intense and it’s loud. From Multilocal’s perspective, it’s been great to see the roughly 8,000 attendees, including a huge amount of brands and publishers. 

“There’s plenty of business being done and a great mix of delegates – brands, tech providers and partners.

“While attention is on everyone’s lips this year, looking ahead, curation needs to be a part of the conversation, too.

“Being able to curate the right audience, wherever that might be in the world, at scale, is critical – to make sure that your advertising gets the attention it deserves for its messaging.”

Lauren Hughes, Hybrid Theory

“MAD//Fest is amazing. It’s so colourful and everybody is ready to talk. It also feels full of anticipation as one of the first events post last year’s lockdowns. 

“It’s been really fun. We’re loving the theme ‘No Guts, No Glory’ – if you don’t take a chance – you’re not going to get anywhere. Marketing is all about evolving, being innovative – taking new risks and discovering new things, in terms of the way in which we work. And our approach at Hybrid Theory is all about data and finding things out about people. 

“Often, these are things that you wouldn’t ordinarily know. If you don’t take a chance, you don’t find things out, and you’re not going to get the glory that comes with it.”

Dan Larden Dan Larden, Head of UK, TPA Digital

This year, MAD//Fest seems bigger than ever. I’ve bumped into so many people – people I haven’t seen for some time. 

“It’s great to reconnect with everyone, and what a great place to do it. We’re also having lots of conversations about attention with our brands – probably one of the biggest but most ill defined buzzwords. 

“There’s a lot to be done, but this is a really interesting space.”

Ben DimondBen Dimond, Head of EMEA, Playground xyz 

“MAD//Fest is back with a vengeance this year. It’s much bigger than ever – and also longer than ever; running over three days. It’s a huge event with lots of stands. There are loads of brands here, all connecting, and loads of vendors. It’s vibrant, it’s loud, it’s hot… it’s awesome! 

“As for discussions that are happening, we certainly think attention will be a seismic change in the way we look at advertising in the years to come – not just this year but in the years and decades to come. 

“We’re right at the beginning of this journey; a journey that the whole industry is going to have to go on to look at how we measure the effectiveness of ads. 

“We’re right at the beginning and that feels very exciting. As a pioneer in the world of attention, there are so many exciting things happening at the moment.”

Jehanzeb alvi exit beeJahanzeb Alvi, Growth Director, Exit Bee

“We’re right behind the tagline of the event: be bold, be brave, take risks. MAD//Fest London 2022 is a celebration of bold decision making, calculated risk taking and finding opportunity in disruption. 

“We are here to show our unique Micro Moment advertising product to the market and get them excited – to show them something completely different. 

“There are a number of diverse themes of discussion, and a range of ad tech companies, mar tech companies and measurement companies, and not just from the UK but also across Europe – a true diversity of ideas. Attention is the focus of discussion here and at Exit Bee, we believe attention is the ultimate currency. 

“Advertising demands consumer attention. It’s great to see attention at the forefront of discussion and to see brands really starting to look at this rather than focusing on other metrics that are perhaps more easily available. In our industry, attention is the absolute holy grail.”

Sean AdamsSean Adams, Global Insight Director and Partner, Brand Metrics 

“Attention has its own stage here at MAD//Fest, but to Brand Metrics, while it’s really important, it’s also only half of the story. 

“You then need to work out what that attention leads to and what sort of results it delivers. That’s what we specialise in.”

Rob Hall playground xyzRob Hall, CEO, Playground xyz

“MAD//Fest is crazy. It’s pumping. Everyone is out in force and you can feel the energy.

“Attention is the talk of the town. We are seeing lots of use of the word but interestingly a much needed divide is shaping up: attention measurement methods that include eye tracking, and those that are just using proxies. 

“It’s great for the industry to start to recognise the difference and of course we are firmly in the camp of the former.

 “As everyone gets behind this it’s going to be revolutionary – many factors larger than viewability was. This is an exciting time indeed.”

Mike Follett, CEO, LumenMike Follett, CEO, Lumen

“MAD//Fest is insane. It’s fantastic to see how happy people are all to be in the same place, once again, meeting old friends. But for us, it’s also about being able to tell a story, or to show a story. Being able to demonstrate in real life, and on stage, feels magic. 

“As the lead sponsor of the attention stage, we feel we’ve come home. After all, attention is the very essence of advertising. You could look at lots of things but you do look at some things. That’s what ads are about. And so, if attention is the essence of advertising, it’s about time we started measuring and putting a value on that. 

“Being able to put a price on that attention is key. After all, while viewability is a good start, it’s also not the only thing. 

“In fact, it’s not even taking you half way towards getting the answer. At a time when people are very good at ignoring stuff; stuff that’s even staring them in the face, viewability only tells you what people could see. 

“It’s attention data that tells you what people do in fact look at. This is a major step forward for the industry and probably the start of a major revolution in terms of how we understand how advertising works, and how we can measure its effectiveness. 

“Next year, the guys at MAD//Fest are starting their own ‘Attention Fest’ – a whole event dedicated to attention and we hope to be there, just as we’re leading the attention stage here. 

“But I think we’ll be back here next year, too – leading discussion around how attention leads to action. It’s that relationship between what people could see, what they do see, and then what they do next – because of what they see – that’s the crucial next step. 

“We’re getting initial findings about that this year. It’s going to be next year that we’ll be able to show the true power of what we’re doing.”