Arif Durrani's Blog

Media360 2013 engages hearts and minds

This time last week, we were gearing up to hear Phil Lander (pictured), senior director at BlackBerry, discuss plans for turning around the one time mobile market leader.

If any brand typifies the pace of change we're all living through right now, then I guess BlackBerry is as good as any, having gone from market leader seven years ago, to battling for survival against new giant rivals Apple and Google Android. It paid a heavy price for failing to adapt quickly to consumer demand in the smartphone space.

The challenge faced by the mobile operator is underlined by Kantar figures for the three months to April, which finds BlackBerry has 5.6% of the UK smartphone market, compared to 13.8% only a year earlier.

At Media360, Lander took to the stage after Enders Analysis' consultant Benedict Evans had delivered an impressive presentation around how the future of media is tied up with a shift in power towards mobile.

Among his acute observations had been his belief that the amount of share ceded to Apple and Google in the mobile space – with well over one billion devices sold – made it "unlikely" any other platform could become relevant.

Lander made a good stab of combating this perception, reminding us that BlackBerry still has 8 million active users in the UK. And since February, BlackBerry's BB10 operating system and its Z10 and Q10 smartphones have started to make waves, with more than 50% of early adopters having migrated from other devices.

One thing's for sure, when it comes to consumer engagement, absolutely nothing can rival the smartphone: Lander revealed that, over a 15 hour period, the average user checks their phone a staggering 150 times, the equivalent of once every six minutes. It sounds insane, but having spent two days in a darkened room with more than 300 of media's finest checking their phones and using tablets, it shouldn't have come as that much of a surprise.

Challenging the boundaries of media

Now in its 10th year, it was the biggest and most ambitious Media360 event yet, with the tone being set from the outset with a keynote from Boots' marketing supremo Elizabeth Fagen (pictured); who simply asked What would Jesse do?

The campaigning values of founder Jesse Boot offered a masterclass in the importance in understanding brand values, authenticity and creating a meaningful brand. Fagen admitted the retailer had lost its way in recent times, and had emerged from the 90s "a bit boring and old". She also admitted the journey remained a work in progress, before touching upon some key themes of the event when she stressed the Boots marketing department "couldn't function without data and econometrics".

As expected, the rest of two days proved to be informative and challenging, but at times frustrating too. The truth is, there's no one size fits all solution to today's challenges, business models will vary and one man's nectar is another man's poison – or wasted 20 minutes at least.

Media360 has always had a reputation for attracting delegates who are all senior leaders in the business themselves. They could just as easily have been on the stage, and, indeed, in many cases over the last decade, you have been. This makes for an extremely engaged, and yes demanding audience, but at least in the age of real-time communication, everyone gets their say.

Some initial observations: In this age of dialogue, panel sessions seemed to work better than monologue presentations, clients stories and challenges were always welcomed but more time for debate and input from the floor was requested too.

One thing we can all agree on is how well the two days were chaired by Tracy De Groose. The energy and expertise with which she moderated, took questions from the floor, managed house-keeping and controlled proceedings was plain for all to see.

The Carat leader came with her own take on the transition currently sweeping across the business too, believing it to be a "critical time and an inflection point". The boundaries between media and platforms are blurring, she noted, and the fact that technology at home is ahead of that being used in the workplace presents its own challenges. De Groose believes we are only half way through a complete revolution of the media, and says the second half is set to move the goalposts even further and at an increasingly disruptive pace.

Media Awards of the Decade

The sharing of ideas and networking formed a key part to this year's event, along with the chance to celebrate the best in the business with our Media Awards of the Decade at the end of our first day (6 June).

The stand out for me was a highly emotional and eloquent Tess Alps (pictured) receiving Media Leader of the Decade, typically self deprecating and modest, her impact upon the UK's media business over the last 10 years has been indisputably immense. Steve Hatch's MEC being crowned Agency of the Decade was also emotional. In a contest between other high achieving agencies it was always going to be hard fought, but between 2003 – 2013, the narrative and momentum behind WPP's third-string media network (founded as Mediaedge:cia in 2002 and now with annual billings in excess of £650m) made it a well-deserved winner.

Similarly, the time period played well to the rise of Facebook. Since it entered the scene in February 2004, I don't think many would begrudge the social media network walking away with Media Launch of this particular decade.

Thanks must also go to Marc Mendoza, Havas Media's chairman, who presented the awards for us like the slick, showbiz dandy we all know him to secretly be [Mendoza is picture below with Google's Mark Howe (left) and Yahoo's James Wildman (right) - good tans all round before they even get to Cannes].

We'll be gathering more industry views over the coming months to make sure next year's Media360 is tailored for your evolving needs. Thanks to all of you who plugged in and made this year's event so memorable.

Reports and photos from many of this year's sessions can be found at http://www.mediaweek.co.uk/go/m360/ And in another sign of the developing times, Starcom MediaVest Group – the human experiences agency – also produced some great video content from the event, available to all here – http://emergingspaces.co.uk/

There is even a music track recorded at the event – yes really – in circulation from the innovative Spotify breakout session, where delegates tried their hand at African drumming.

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Arif Durrani is the editor of Media Week and head of media for Campaign.

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