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April 29, 2016

Like many other brand marketers, agencies, and media owners, Ad Week Europe was a critical time for Waze. We officially launched our ads platform in the UK and contributed to industry knowledge sharing by hosting a seminar on location-based advertising.

But with over 200 seminars across the four day event at London's Picture House, there was lots to learn from other participants about what's cutting edge in the advertising landscape. And the lineup was pretty stellar too—with ad-land heavyweights such as Sir Martin Sorrell, Google's Matt Brittin, and BBH's Sir John Hegarty rubbing shoulders with celebrity speakers including Dynamo, Bernie Ecclestone, and real-life heavyweight boxer David Haye.
Despite delegate passes for the event costing several hundred pounds, the good people at AdWeek actually record every one of the seminars, and you can watch them back on their website for free at your own convenience, any day or night.

As well as the Waze talk (naturally), I'd point you to two seminars that I found fascinating for different reasons.

The first was the session that Transport for London (TFL) led with their media agency MEC entitled "London is big...TFL's data is bigger."

Transport for London's marketing director Chris McLeod started the discussion by saying he's in the "capacity management business"—i.e., getting Londoners around without breaking the transport infrastructure on a daily basis. He talked about their unique challenge: the population of London is going to increase by 16 percent over the next few years to 10 million, but the capacity of London's transport system cannot simply increase overnight—it takes decades to complete large-scale projects to build new train lines under the ground.

TFL therefore uses data to try to manage customer demand around the transport services in London, getting people to travel at quieter times, for example. They make their own travel data available to developers via APIs, as a result, the demand for this data has doubled in recent years. There are over 8,000 apps using TFL data, and they estimate that this creates between £50 and £60 million of value for TFL by having third-party app developers do customer service on behalf of TFL, informing Londoners of travel information through their own platforms.

The second seminar from AdWeek Europe that was really informative was the native ads forum, which was a 2-hour session, but flew by because each media owner had 10 minutes to talk about their experiences on native with many case studies.

It's clear native advertising means many things to many people, but in general the people talking were sharing experiences of how they'd made branded content compelling on a number of platforms, including Facebook, Buzzfeed, YouTube, Business Insider, etc.

There were some amazing videos shared, from how Car Throttle plays to the strengths of each platform to increase views of their April Fool's content, to how Buzzfeed has created new sub-brands for Food and DIY, which get millions of views in days.

It made me think of the old Howard Gossage quote: "Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them. Sometimes that's an ad." Nowadays, the delivery mechanism is mobile and video, but this still absolutely rings true today. Everyone at this seminar was essentially showcasing examples of how their "ads" had created value by being interesting, and they'd got to critical mass of views/likes/impressions/shares by making the content sing on as many distribution platforms as possible.

Finlay Clark is the Waze Ads Lead for the U.K.
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