My interview with the Google series ‘Think with innovators’ looking back over my career and laying out some of the learnings. It brought back some great memories!
Original article here
For Marco, innovators often tend to be lone, disruptive voices, whose biggest challenge is persuading the majority that change is a good thing, and that the outcome of that change will be positive for both agency and clients alike. In his many years of advancing the digital agenda, he says there has been no bigger challenge than the introduction of Programmatic, starting in 2009. “If you look back, there were whole businesses that did not believe this was the future,” he remembers, “but at every organisation now there are big advocates for Programmatic who all have a common thread of trying to change how the business has always worked.” In driving that change, Marco recalls that there were no short-cuts, as he spent years “literally going door to door” in an effort to educate colleagues and clients about the power of the new technology.
Innovation is in your DNA. I think you can learn some of the skills that are required, but it goes back to ‘what motivates you?’ The motivation to innovate comes from within.
Marco Bertozzi, Global Chief Revenue Officer, Performics
“My definition of innovation in the context of a large media group is really this concept of the ‘intrepeneur’,” says Marco. “Really this means trying to drive change, trying to change what people have always been doing, trying to invent new things within the structure of a big organisation.” Having earned his stripes as an ‘intrApreneur’ at VivaKi and at Performics, Marco now takes time out to share his experiences with the next generation of innovators. “I do mentoring at university, I do talks at schools and there’s a few other things in the pipeline. And at the same time I like sitting down with some of the biggest digital companies in the world and talking about how we’re going to continue to evolve this new space.”
Looking forward, Marco can see new technologies already starting to change the landscape, even though the fundamental challenge for businesses remains unchanged. “First Programmatic came along, and with it all the different channels, and now everyone’s talking about virtual reality. It just never stops, so the challenge for agencies is how you keep on top of that change and really embrace it.”
Reflecting on his undiminished appetite for the next wave of innovation, Marco knows exactly where his enthusiasm springs from. “I think for me, what gets me out of bed in the morning has always been that ability to work with lots of other companies and people who are more future facing. My satisfaction comes from believing that there’s a right way forward that’s different to how we’ve been doing it before, and having the self belief to see it through.”
Originally written for Digiday – link here.
I have watched with interest the backlash against the Google decision to pull its YouTube inventory back from DoubleClick Ad Exchange. It got me thinking about the past and the present and the fact that there is this view that all companies must make everything equal to everyone. Google has disabled something that represented 5 percent of its total YouTube sales — is that really worth all the fuss?
While it is an issue insofar as many businesses are built on the back of disruption and filling niches and a multitude of other business models, Google has no obligation to make life easy for them. Indeed, Google is not alone. Facebook locked everything up; Amazon would rather shut sales down that let you get hold of its data; AOL, Yahoo and others hold all their best inventory back so you can only buy it through their platforms.
Welcome to the future. These companies have invested billions into their product, and they have no obligation to make other competitive businesses rich on the back of their investments. It is called competitive advantage.
Holding on to the Google debate a little longer, five years ago it had a poor ad server and limited display business. It was seemingly going backwards in terms of innovation outside of search and video. And then a few things happened: Some smart people made some smart decisions. Google bought companies, it invested in their stack, it invested in data, and before you knew it, it was dominating display. It did the same in video, so if it chooses to limit the access to just three entry points from four, then that is Google’s business. If AOL, after investing in content, tech and data, wants to only allow access to the best of what they have via its platform, that is its prerogative.
It was only five or six years ago that we were all forced to work like this. If you wanted inventory from The Telegraph, you rang up The Telegraph, likewise Guardian, ITV and so on. We were forced to deal with hundreds of walled gardens. We have improved the situation with technology, so now we have many fewer entry points to inventory, but when we started down this road no one ever said everyone had to sign up to this new way of working, the deal was that we could buy inventory through platforms and use data — not — be able to access all inventory through any platform.
As an example, AppNexus is the self-proclaimed independent solution outside of Google. It is doing well. But should Google then help AppNexus or worry about whether it can get access to YouTube inventory via AdX? Of course not. The same would go for many other demand-side platforms that would issue complaints on the topic.
Now, as a buyer, we would prefer to see an ecosystem where we can access whatever we want from wherever we want. And we do rally against the approaches of Google, Facebook and Amazon. But at the same time, we have options. We can work around most of this, and we will create solutions that help us navigate and deliver against the utopia we were once searching for. That said, this is business. This is about companies investing and then looking to make returns off the back of it. YouTube is not the BBC, and it can decide how you buy its content.
Inspired by the big 5 – A week in San Francisco.
There is something genuinely special about San Francisco and Palo Alto. A place that if you are into digital you can’t help but feel excited about when you go there. First time you go it’s about going to the offices – Google HQ, Facebook, Apple etc and the famous locations attached like Mountain View or Cupertino. I have talked in previous blogs about the offices, they are a little disappointing, they are often deathly quiet and in the case of a Google a little battered and worn out, no it’s not what they are like inside.
The thing that strikes you is the scale, huge complexes, small towns in the case of Google, the meccas of those now famous names that come with such financial status and dominance and yet still have their young founders somewhere in those buildings. You can’t help marvel at that scale after so few years of history. In that mix though you feel a sense of tension between hanging onto that founder spirit and the relentless burden of financial success and expectation, something Facebook will start feeling acutely post IPO.
Palo Alto itself comes with this air of amazing entrepreneurship. Much was mentioned of Sandhill Road, where all the VCs are based, I had not considered that even VCs like to cluster, I guess I thought they would be isolated, each one trying to find the golden nugget but I suppose they are like everyone else and like to chew the fat on whether x company or y company is of interest. Fascinating I thought that at every one of the meetings we had this week, Pinterest was mentioned, it is crazy how that company has come from nowhere to being on the end of every sentence and judging by my Twitter feed, tweet, I would imagine that those investors are all eyeing that company up with much interest.
Dreams are made in this place and you can’t help admire it and be mesmerised at the immense foot print of these companies. As we walked into Apple you remind yourself you are walking into the most valuable company in the world, staggering what has happened there, or Facebook with its 100b price tag on its head and yet Facebook is still very lean, 3000 employees in US vs a Microsoft of 70,000, that paints a picture and it’s one of Facebook needing to recruit fast to cop with the demand for its products and insights.
The reason for the trip was to bring the VivaKi Nerve Center to the wider Publicis group and let them come together and meet with these amazing digital beacons. A fascinating few days as the Saatchi’s and Leo Burnetts came together to discuss and learn how we can all work together more effectively with these leading digital companies of the world. This new world of social by design has revolutionised the media and creative approach from a ‘bowling ball’ approach where a carefully aimed ball was fired at the consumers and hope to hit a few of them to the ‘pinball effect’ where you send the content into the mix and watch it get fired around.
There were some revealing debates about social and where it fits creatively and who is driving those conversations, we have as clients some very sophisticated marketeers and those who are more tentative but all of them are becoming more global, more scaled and more digital and it is the role of The Nerve Center to help our group capitalise on our amazing partnerships to be able to respond to those trends in a material way.
So as a marketeer who do you care about? Google, Facebook, what about Amazon? Apple and Microsoft will all lay claim to be the companies you need to work with, there are others of course but after a week here you start to consider exactly who are you missing if you work with these companies? The issue comes with knitting these companies together, in the last few years the rivalry has been intense with various fissures opening up between the companies and that’s where organisations like Publicis and The Nerve Center come in. When you sit opposite a Google or an Apple, they often hold many of the cards and yet all of them want to see the whole picture and the agencies hold those cards and they want to learn from us, so it’s a hugely valuable position to be in and one we must exploit on behalf of our clients if we are to get the most from an Apple or Facebook.
Based on this trip and my time at CES I can’t help feel this sense of a more and more closed world vs Open. Facebook’s mission statement is all about connectivity and openness which felt strangely at odds with their restrictions on how we as companies can track anything or the fact that their content can’t be found on Google search. Apple seemed very happy to sit and not want any sort of cross fertilisation, they felt that their billion devices is a big enough footprint for anyone. Everywhere you turn we are organising into silos, TV platforms with Samsung, Apple etc, social platforms controlling their data tightly, not an issue for consumers, harder for advertisers.
That said, when you see the power of YouTube, Facebook’s scale and social by design capabilities, Google from search to display to G+ combined with Microsoft and Xbox/Kinect or Apple’s incredible footprint through hardware it’s hard sometimes to imagine that a global client needs to go much further a field to reach and engage with their audiences. These companies are uniquely global, consistent and so as a global brand you can work on the same platform across multiple markets which will be an important offering of the future.
The days of media schedules with 40 sites on them have to be dwindling or dead, the specialism of tech press or context led site lists can not be totally recreated but you can go a long way towards that same effect through audience buying, targeted Facebook work, Search and so on. These companies and platforms could be the media plan, if only the advertisers themselves could organise in the same global fashion. They don’t right now, but they will and they will want agencies who understand and have very grown up deep relations with these companies and that is the aim of our Partnerships team at VivaKi and VivaKi Ventures which aims to keep us wired to the new start ups as well.
This week was about that, it was about saying lets work out how we can work together and not on the premise of spend and price but intellectually and strategically work to create the media and technical solutions of the future. My last meeting was at Mountain View with Google and what they are working on is mind boggling and makes you realise that although there are many companies out there with great marketing decks and some very bright people, they are dwarfed by what’s going on in this company.
And above all as I sat delayed by 4 hours I thought what an incredible part of the world this is and how inspirational these companies are both person ally and professionally. I also thought that I am working for the most forward thinking organisation in the advertising and media industry and one which is full of very smart people all looking at this business through different eyes and that is fantastic. VivaKi Nerve Center.
As I sit at the end of the day we launched The Pool, Lane 4 I am pleased with how things panned out. We had our publisher partners turn up in the form of Channel 4, Fox networks and Youtube as well as a further large broadcaster. Colleagues from ZenithOptimedia and Starcom also came along as well as some of the technology companies we have been working with on the project.
Here is a view of today’s event as we wait for everyone to arrive
We launched the event in The House of St Barnabus, No1 Greek Street which was great as a venue and gave everyone a chance to catch up and discuss the latest on the project. Curt Hecht, Global CEO of the Vivaki Nerve Center set the context and explained the inspiration behind the Pool and touched on the project’s development in China, France and Spain. Our colleagues from the US gave an update on the latest results their work and showed the recently released results from Lane 2.
This project is new and challenging and we hope will get the market place excited and start to create a thouroughly researched project that leads to a scalable ad format for the globe.
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Its a good start overall, lots more work to go!
I just wanted to post an official Thanks to Google for their world beating Google Zeitgeist conference. The level of delivery, the speakers, venues and thinking really put almost all other events to shame.
Just take a look at the schedule for the two days click here
The quality of content was fabulous and the discussions expectantly lively at times, I particularly liked the ‘Zappos’ vs Alcatel debate, it was ready to kick off I thought, good fun though! That said after all of those illustrious people, who came out on top? Boris Johnson, amazing orator, funny, informative and I know that everyone to a man thought he stole the show, even the Google founders could not deliver that level of interaction with the audience. See all the vidoes here:
These events are fascinating, there are some very aggressive networkers. People talk about ad exchange technology delivering Ads in a second, at these events, people can look at your badge and decide if they want to talk to you even quicker! I am no good at it, too obvious, I think I need glasses although Google were kind enough to make the names pretty big! A lot of cards were exchanged, polite coffees and drinks consumed and many different languages spoken, that’s the beauty of these events. Normally Google do not showcase any of their own wares but due to popular demand they walked us through Google Squared, Search, Youtube Disco, Mobile, Maps and Gmail and I think everyone was taken back by how much stuff they have up their sleeve but don’t talk about excessively. After what I saw yesterday I think they should strut their stuff a little more, because its good…take a look at Youtube Disco here just add an artist.
I think this sort of event is one others can only aspire to, but I hope they catch on, especially the handing out Nexus Ones at the end! My over-riding image though was leaving at the end and walking to the exit to see what can only be described as an army of men in black suits next to fleets of Mercedes and BMWs, clearly not many people like to drive themselves anymore!
Anyway thanks to Damian and the team, much appreciated!
I have to say I am mightily impressed with the Nike Tiger Woods Ad. It probably says so much more about Nike than Tiger, and they probably know that, but never the less its impressive.
How do these things normally play out? Celebrity messes up, brands drop said celebrity, world moves on for a bit, debate about whether brands should use celebrity endorsement, sponsors come back and re sponsor when the dust has settled and off we go again.
A refreshing change from Nike, who have lived the whole episode, taken the flak, ridden the highs and lows and even been willing to jointly work through the relationship to what I can guarantee will be one hell of a come back.
This Ad is both rare and somehow quite addictive, draws you in, cuts out the hype and makes you think..shit this guy is having to really put himself out there and in this case so is Nike.