Review: Packed MADFest sees martechs locked-on to finding solutions


It’s been dubbed ‘the Coachella of marketing events’, and this week MADFest London 2023, the disruptive advertising, media and adtech festival, delivered a vibrant, packed to the rafters series of debates, networking opportunities and some serious learning for agencies and brands.

MADFest 2023

The hugely popular media industry event kicked off on Tuesday 4 July in Brick Lane in the East End, with thousands of industry professionals thronging to listen to the latest thinking, ideas and challenges facing the industry, and to network, strike deals and, well, have fun – this IS MADFest after all.

Where next?: Agencies and brands at MADFest sought the best thinking on what lies ahead in an age of change. ©Mediashotz

Among the key speakers were the BBC’s newest ‘Dragon’ Gary Neville, rugby ace and presenter, Ugo Monye, chef Tom Kerridge and writer and food critic Jay Rayner.

They mixed with marketing leaders from some of the best known British and global brands; Heineken, Tesco, Uber, Samsung, Monzo, Boots, Virgin and Diageo, to name just a few of them.

It was easier to name the adtechs that were not present, as everyone from Adtonos, Adform and AMA, to Lumen, RTB House, SmartFrame and countless others, showed up to join the discussion about where the marketing and adtech sectors are heading next, as the world prepares for major changes on how data is used.

For those who may not know what that might hold, the big one is that Google will phase out the use of cookies on its Chrome browser by next year, which will make it more difficult for brands to track users and therefore target their advertising better.

Apple already phased out its use of cookies back in 2021, during the global pandemic.

This is arguably where the adtech world steps in. It promises much in the way of new technology that aims to help brands find new and better ways to ensure their ‘ad dollars’ will continue to be well spent in the ‘post-cookie’ era.

Cookies aside, there was also the controversial subject of artificial intelligence in the tech world generally, as well as with adtechs, plus of course the post-pandemic cost-of-living-crisis and how this affects brands, budgets and marketing for the next year.

Brands and martechs also shared the latest thinking on the growing importance of the attention economy.

Equality, diversity and inclusion also remain high on the agenda. And, in a bid to amplify the lack of women in leading roles, for the first time ever, MADFest included a huge ‘Female Leaders Bar’, with its own conference space, meeting zones and, of course an actual bar – soft drinks only.

You can read more about The Female Leaders Bar here.

Power women: Julia Linehan and Lianre Robinson discuss the path to female leadership at MADFest 2023. ©Mediashotz

The full on turnout at this year’s MADFest did cause some issues over the first two days, with long queues, made less bearable by the typical downpours that so often accompany that other major event in London – Wimbledon.

However, this could be seen as a sign that, despite the current economic headwinds, the marketing and adtech sectors are fully locked-on to the issues at hand.