Pandemic and Brexit aside, 2021 is the year of what? Why?

2021 is the year that, as an industry, we have to get our act together on working out a viable solution to Google deprecating third party cookies on its Chrome browser. Third party cookies –  containers that store browser data on user devices – have been the backbone of the global programmatic industry for the past decade. Fuelling over $100 bn in advertising spend through automated digital planning and buying, they help to identify website use and behaviour and build audience profiles at an individual or segment level.

Google’s announcement that it would phase out support for the use of third party cookies within the Chrome browser by early 2022 brings it in line with the other two major browsers –Firefox and Safari. This is a wake-up call for the industry and creates a real sense of urgency for us all to rethink our operations.

What are the 3 most exciting things on your to do list for today?

1. Prep for my five minutes of fame at MAD//Anywhere 

2. Drive attendees to Adform’s Identity Week from 9th-11th March, where we’ll be hosting a series of webinars on the subject I mention above – we are up to 1500 registrants already!

3. Home school my 4-year-old son, Gabriel (hopefully back to normality next week!)

Who inspires you in adland? Why?

*quickly scrolls through his LinkedIn feed to see who is active* Paul Frampton, Joanna Burton, Vincent Flood, Robin Skidmore… for a number of reasons, but mainly because they are all incredibly driven, knowledgeable and amenable folk.

What was the last ad your saw that made you buy something?

An Instagram ad for Maker’s Moon Lamp, a 3D printed version of the moon as a bedroom lamp (not actual size). My son is heavily into all things to do with space exploration so I thought he’d like it.

What’s your all time favourite ad campaign and why?

Very difficult to choose! But I would have to say the Honda Accord ad from a few years ago, where it showed a ‘mouse trap’ style sequence of events using parts from one of the car. It ended up with the car rolling quietly off a ramp and said: “Isn’t it nice when things just work?”. Very captivating and you are glued to the end. The windscreen wipers crawling across the floor is pure art.

What’s your single biggest learning of 2020?

Be thankful.

How do you plan to take your business forward in 2021? 

Adform’s focus this year is on helping the industry solve the cookie challenge, driving Supply Path Optimisation (SPO) and transparency in the industry, and helping brands and agencies we work with drive more efficient marketing. Our platform, Adform FLOW, is aimed at modern marketers to allow them to do their job more efficiently and seamlessly across all programmatic channels. We launched in September last year and so far the feedback (and adoption) has been fantastic. 

What keeps you awake at night?

I’m one of the 5am-ers (my team are used to emails from me at crazy hours) so I tend to be in bed early in the week so I can get up and solve the issues that may keep me awake. Of course, at the weekend it’s completely different and I stay up way too late, drink too much red wine and watch some terrible films.

What’s the biggest opportunity in marketing and advertising right now?

I think the biggest opportunity is to show the world that, post-pandemic, advertising is relevant, transparent, safe and not intrusive. It’s a chance for us to clean up our act and go back to what great advertising is; relevant and engaging. I also hope it’s a chance for us all to bounce back in 2021 and see budgets return to pre-pandemic levels as shoppers spend some of the hard- earned cash they may have saved while sitting at home. 

What kind of innovation excites you the most?

It’s not a specific piece of innovation but more a collective approach to how Machine Learning can help drive better advertising effectiveness. I think that Augmented Intelligence (where humans and AI work together, equally) is the key to that. 

Lockdown is over. The office is open. Describe your perfect working day...

Very apt as we are on the hunt for a new office after five years at our old one! Lovely sunny day, walk to the station early, getting off the train at Blackfriars and soaking up the view of St Paul’s and the Thames. Music on in the office, the old team back together, plenty of activity and buzz – and no Zoom calls. A successful client meeting where they tell you they want to double their budget and launch in new markets. An afternoon spent helping the team put together a great deck or proposal for a potential new client. Finish on time and stand outside a London boozer with the team and soak up the atmosphere of old London town. Are we nearly there yet!?

What would you most like to change about the ad industry?

We make it far too complex for ourselves then forget to explain to the person on the street what we are trying to achieve. I sometimes think we almost pride ourselves on having as complex a Lumascape as possible when actually the industry needs to come together to shows its value. The third party cookie challenge is a big part of it. We have already moved forward with taking over the Unified ID 2.0 project, as it already has control over the PubCommon ID, and so Publisher Log-in IDs and Publisher Server-side first party IDs (the two key elements we believe are needed to give accuracy and scale) will sit under the same umbrella to an extent, which should speed up adoption. But there is still a long way to go and 2021 is racing ahead.

What are you speaking about at MAD//Anywhere? 

How Adform can help simplify the cookie challenge and scale it! We are already seeing great results on Safari (a browser that deprecated third party cookies a few years back) and our aim is to make sense of the Lumascape of ID vendors and solutions, so you don’t have to pick just one. Our platform is designed to work with any ID system; what’s important is being able to drive targeted, cross-site / device integrated advertising campaigns for a better customer experience.

Phil is speaking at MAD//Anywhere on 11 March. Click here for the agenda.