The DigiAds stage at MAD//FEST saw 26 industry thought leaders, all specialists in their field, deliver carefully crafted, incredibly informative and passionate presentations that perfectly captured the theme of “No Guts, No Glory!”

The day was split into three key themes, Privacy, Sustainability and CTV, with a mix of speakers and panel sessions, each with an experience to share, position to debate or advice to give. Each presentation was given to a 'standing room only' audience.

Anyone can run a “conference” (“We don’t use the “C” word here” I was told in no uncertain terms), but there has always been something particularly special about MAD//Fest. The audience encourages and rewards speakers’ honesty. In turn, they are rewarded with exclusive content and opinions that you won’t find anywhere else. 

Let’s be honest when was the last time you went to a confe..., sorry, an event, wearing a flashing green headset, got to look through a complete stranger’s mobile phone content and celebrated a keynote speaker by having an impromptu sing/dance-along to S Club 7’s “Reach for the stars”? Thank you, Stephen Bonner!

At DigiAds, I saw an empowered audience, proactively gearing up for the challenges that lay ahead, seeking a deeper understanding of the ever-changing AdTech landscape and how their influence can shape its future. 

Their questions were direct and met with an honest response. It was one of the most interactive experiences between speaker and audiences I have witnessed.

Kicking off our Privacy theme, Playrcart's Richard Mason, CTO, and Emily Victoria, Director of Growth, along with GumGum's Senior Digital Diector, Josh Tovey posed the question: “There has never been a better time to focus on how to obtain, optimise and first party consented data, but how?” The trio went on to showcase how Playrcart are the pioneers of transactional advertising, delivering above average CTR’s in partnership with GumGum for an award-winning Vodafone campaign.

DigiAds' sustainability panel session in action

The ICO challenged us “We’re all in the gutter, but some of us are reaching for the stars” and demonstrated that there is a vision for a better future and how to find the support needed to achieve it.

AppsFlyer, IRI and Liftoff showed how to measure, interpret, and optimise your audience data to create highly effective outcomes from strategic planning through to execution and attribution as we embark on “The Great Privacy Reset." Whilst Jerry Daykin, VP, Head of Media at Beam Suntory, asked that whilst prepping for a cookieless future, “Should we be finding new ways to achieve the same things, or be rethinking our approach more broadly?" Could doing so help shape a better internet for both consumers and advertisers?

The next few years, maybe even months, will be a very interesting time for Adtech and the topic of privacy. Next year, I am sure the topic will still be a 'hot potato' but with regulation and control comes opportunity, especially for those who know where to look.

During our Sustainability stream Laura Wade, Head of sustainability at Essence, mused “Can you revive a dinosaur? Can advertising survive or even thrive in a net zero society?" Yet, with the internet now responsible for almost 4% of global emissions, (more than the global aviation industry), and set to double by 2025, digital advertisers have to set out what they are doing to try and achieve net zero. All speakers agreed that the next 12 months have to see an improvement in advertisers adopting new technologies that actively reduce waste and carbon emissions.

CTV was represented by an all-star cast lead by Paul Gubbins, VP CTV Strategy at Publica, who discussed the best practices for CTV publishers to follow when looking to grow their share of programmatic demand and the rise of AVOD.

With CTV now digital advertising's fastest growing channels, the industry does not have long to ensure that it doesn't fall into the same traps that have beset other digital channels in the past. Once again, as with privacy and sustainability, the next 12 months will be very interesting. It's a case of, 'watch this space', and see where we are at DigiAds at MAD//Fest next July!

The day ended with Brian O’Kelley, founder of Scope 3, speaking passionately about his own personal experiences in AdTech, sharing his vision for the future and how we all have a very important part to play in achieving it.

At the end of the day an attendee came up to me and said, “there is so much energy in here!” We’re going to need it. There is a lot to do and the AdTech community is rallying to provide solutions to advertisers and consumers alike.

As you can imagine, we covered a lot of ground.  Over the coming weeks we will be releasing curated content from the DigiAds Stage and look further into the subjects covered on the day in more detail.

We will be back next year at MAD//FEST. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat”          

If you visited the DigiAds stage at MAD//FEST, want to find out more information on the subjects covered, have any feedback or are keen to get involved in future events then email

Over the next few weeks and months MAD//Insight will be providing summary of the DigiAds stage and the rest of the sessions across MAD//Fest London 2022.