Ten years in tech: The industry looks to the future

Over the last ten years, an extraordinary amount of technological development has occurred, not least in the media industry where everything from content to advertising to measurement has changed significantly since 2010. Mumbrella’s Hannah Blackiston spoke to ten industry leaders to find out what they considered to be the key changes and where they think the next decade will take us. In part two of this feature, the industry looks at what 2020 will have in store.

Putting the best foot forward

While there was an abundance of negative conversation in 2019, there was also some effort made to put the industry in a good place for the next decade.

Acast managing director Henrik Isaksson said audio’s investment in a better industry has put the medium in a good place for the next few years.

Henrik Isaksson is positive about the future of audio

“It’s not been a great year for media overall – we’ve seen total ad spend down and redundancies made across multiple publishing houses,” said Isaksson.

“The silver lining is that the audio industry has really banned together to show the value of audio, both to creators and advertisers. We’ve invested more into measurement and tools that show the effectiveness of audio, showcasing the power and growth of the industry.”

Those tough times have led to tough conversations, and for IAB Australia CEO Gai Le Roy, those conversations have led to a better industry.

Tough conversations have generated good outcomes says Gai Le Roy

“I have been encouraged by the increasingly open discussions about mental health and how our industry can find new and improved ways to support our people. I am incredibly impressed by how many of these initiatives have been led by some of the younger people in our industry. Our industry will have a great future if it’s driven by these strong, intelligent and compassionate leaders. IAB is proud to be supporting this next generation with our mentorship program to help develop and support young and diverse talent,” said Le Roy.

Grant Bingham, GumGum sales director, agreed with Le Roy: “For me, it is the fact that the Australian media and marketing industry has begun to focus on causes and issues that matter. We’ve begun to talk more openly about mental health, which has been a growing issue for a long time, and something that has to be brought out of the shadows and into everyday conversations.

Grant Bingham thinks the industry is in a better place than it was last decade

“Collectively, we’ve increased our charitable efforts through the fantastic, tireless work from the team at UnLtd as well as more time companies are making for staff to support their own causes. I’m also pleased to see that mentoring is no longer simply something to tick off the box but a way we can really support the development of our future leaders and develop more personal ties across the industry. The IAB in particular is doing some terrific work in that area.”

The IAB Mentorship Program got a lot of love, MediaMath ANZ partnerships and country manager, Yun Yip, and Ayaan Mohamud, Impact APAC marketing director, both credited it and UnLtd for the work in the industry and the positive results.

A focus on the future has also been at the core of DIGI’s work in 2019. Managing director Sunita Bose said that’s something the business wants to continue into 2020.

Collaboration is the plan for the future says Sunita Bose

“While I can’t do justice in limited space to the countless impressive initiatives and products launched by the technology industry in 2019, speaking for DIGI, I’ve been proud of the collaboration we’ve had with Government around the challenges and opportunities associated with technology,” said Bose.

“We partnered with the Australian Government on DIGI Engage: Bringing people together across divides, an innovative youth summit that brought 100 young people together to workshop creative ways of countering hate and extremism both online and offline, that they took back to their communities around the country. We also helped launch a Parliamentary Friendship Group for the Digitally-Enabled Economy, which will be an important forum for the technology industry and federal MPs to dive into the challenges of the online world – exploring tough questions in relation to data privacy, online safety, AI ethics and the like – as well as the opportunities, such as those that the digital economy brings to regional areas and small business.”

Looking to the horizon

Snap Inc ANZ general manager, Kathryn Carter, hopes the next decade will bring more thought to the industry, especially as it continues to grow.

In 2020 and beyond, growth needs to be thoughtful says Kathryn Carter

“The last decade in the technology industry has been exciting, innovative and turbulent at the same time. I hope that as we move forward we take stock of where we are today so that we can determine what we want the next decade to look like for humanity,” said Carter.

“While the industry continues to innovate, we need to be thoughtful about what we build. As we enter the next decade, more than ever, we should be mindful of the impact technology can have on people’ lives and what we create should have a positive impact.”

Ayaan Mohamud is positive about the future of the industry, especially now the focus is on transparency

Mohamud is hoping for a better future for an industry that’s been marred by trust concerns and a lack of transparency.

“Less talk of trust, transparency, fraud prevention and data protection which I hope to become ‘table stakes’. More action around driving business outcomes for advertisers, retaining talent, collaborating for good and de-risking advertisers by providing valuable alternatives to the duopoly,” she said.

While there are guaranteed to be more changes, Le Roy hopes the industry can make them positive ones: “There will certainly continue to be structural change for media owners, agencies and clients but I believe this will be a positive change because we work in a smart, creative and hopefully increasingly brave industry. New models will emerge and we will have to adjust to them looking and feeling different to offerings of yesterday and today. People will still want to consume entertaining and informative content and marketers will still need to find ways to get their messages to people and both those factors will foster innovation and new offerings.”

For Google Australia sales director Rhys Williams, the focus should be set even wider. He believes the industry can have an important part to play in the future of Australia’s growth.

The industry’s impact on Australia as a whole needs to be considered says Rhys Williams

“We need to continue to work with business leaders to demonstrate how advertising is not so much a “discretionary effort”, but absolutely critical for driving revenue and profit. Of course we won’t succeed in this without making sure we get measurement right.

“We’re lucky that we’re in a unique position to help Aussie businesses grow and compete in an increasingly digital and competitive global economy – which will go a long way to supporting jobs and prosperity across Australia,” said Williams.

Lotame CMO Adam Solomon said more collaboration will be on the cards, and that should be looked at in a positive light, rather than as a detrimental experience.

“The most used word in 2020 will be “partnership.” Brands and publishers are starting to come around to the notion that no one can afford to be an island and expect to compete. Publishers will begin to see each other as collaborators, whose connected and combined datasets can generate a greater return for their clients and themselves. The same will be true of brands and growing openness to not just one partner but a range of partners who can collaborate and connect easily,” said Solomon.

Adam Solomon says collaboration will be the theme of the next decade

Yip says consumers should be at the front of the conversation for any planning in 2020: “It must bring greater focus, care and attention for the consumer. In the past, the industry has been in danger of being neglectful when it comes to user experience and privacy issues. Brands, publishers and tech partners aligning themselves for the greater and long-term good of the digital ecosystem.

“Now that we have the platforms and the intelligence, we should be able to think about talking to a consumer over their lifetime, rather than by a ‘campaign period’. With the right data, consent, personalisation – think of the value exchange between every brand and consumer.”

Yan Yip hopes the hard work of the last decade has set the industry up for a good next one

In among that though, Isaksson says there’s still room for great content: “I still believe the opportunity in audio and podcasting is undercooked, particularly when it comes to more independent podcast players.

“The media ownership landscape in Australia is massively consolidated, but audiences are craving different and independent voices. We’re already seeing this with some of our independent podcasters – from Osher Gunsberg to Julia Gillard and Lola Berry – gaining big local and global followings.

“I’m excited to see more independent podcasters who don’t have a mass media voice to recruit and grow a mass audience via podcasting.”

Read part one of this feature, Ten years in tech: The industry reflects on the past decade, here.


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