Web Summit 2015: 5 things we learned.

Web Summit 2015 - Dublin

Web Summit 2015 saw 42,000 tech pilgrims from around the globe descend onto our nation’s capital. Dublin’s final rendition of Europe’s premier tech conference displayed a window into the near future, so what did we learn?

Virtual Reality (V.R.) is here.Palmer Luckey of Occulus Rift Fame


Well, strictly speaking V.R. has been here for some time. We all know of the various devices in development – from Oculus Rift & Samsung gear to Google Cardboard – but before Web Summit 2015, a VR experience for the masses still seemed like science-fiction.
However, the sheer number of talks centred on, or featuring, VR made us realise that the technology will have a universal reach. From medical or engineering implementation to advertising and entertainment, there was no shortage of talks endorsing the potential of VR. Indeed, there wasn’t a single stage free from the clutches of this year’s number 1 topic.

Digital Data is powering traditional advertising.

John Sculley of Zeta Interactive

The targeting capabilities which digital advertising possesses has often seen advertisers shift their advertising spend towards the medium. The reasoning behind online’s strength is data. The ability to market to someone based on their location, sex and age is enough of an advantage over traditional channels. But when you include more persona data, mined from a user’s browsing history, traditional advertising just can’t compete.
Well, by using the same tools apparently. Discussions from representatives from Sky, BT sport and Zeta Interactive spelled out just how TV can use Data for a similar advantage.
Viewing habits, online streaming services and video on demand – coupled with the data from the digital landscape – means advertisers can mould TV campaigns in a similar fashion to digital campaigns.
Sky can now pipe in different sets of ads to viewers of the same show – thus decreasing the number of deaf ears your communique will fall on.
This benefit has only been made possible due to the digital reimagining of television.

The evolution of content marketing.

Michael McAvoy & David Schneider at Web Summit 2015

Unlike their elders, Millennials are savvy when it comes to advertising. When selling to the young of today, traditional advertising practices doesn’t make the grade. And as a result, marketers have been forced to evolve and tailor their content to an audience who will implement ad-blocking rather than endure advertising which negatively impacts on their user experience.
One such publisher which has taken this challenge on-board, and succeeded, is satirical website. “The Onion”. Rather than selling brands banner ads or full page take-overs, the Onion has encouraged them to get in on the joke. Brands which understand the shareability of this content reap the benefits, while the user-base – who are aware of the advertised post – appreciate the effort to make the content accessible and of value to them.
It is a double win for these brands. Not only has the brand reached their audience in a positive manner – despite being part of a joke – but they’ve circumvented ad-blocking technology.

Monetising social with catered advertising.tinder-ceo-sean-rad-at-web-summit-2015-in-dublin-ireland


When a new social platform bursts onto the scene, the question of monetisation is always raised. The huge rise in revenue for companies such as Facebook and Google suggests that there is always a way to mine revenue from social, but how does it work? Well, here are some things we learned during Web Summit 2015.
Well, Pinterest is approaching this crossroads now, so which way will they turn? Like other successful social platforms, the revenue path they’ll take is in advertising. But, they are trying harder than anyone to create relevant advertising – with the aim that the advertising content shown to the consumer is just as relevant as the organic content.
Although this means content will fall on a smaller audience this is a win for the advertiser as well as the consumer, as the % of people likely to respond from the ad has been significantly increased.
Similarly, Instagram have been tweaking their algorithm, albeit for content as a whole rather than for ads. They are tweaking for the exact same reason however. They want to enhance the user experience on Instagram by displaying more topical content for each individual. Meanwhile on the Music Stage, Spotify essentially mirrored this sentiment while discussing the success of the “Discover Weekly” feature.

Mobile continues to grow.

A known-truth was reinforced at Web Summit 2015; mobile’s dominant growth continues and it seems like desktop applications have become secondary to that of the smart-phone or tablet.
Many of the talks discussed this topic – from TV networks, such as CNN, Sky and BT sport, dissecting the mobile user’s experience of visual media, to “Amazon payments’” look at how to stream-line e-commerce on mobile or “Glide” on the evolution of mobile messaging platforms. With this continuing trend will it be the case that the days of computer and laptop are dead outside of the office?

Web Summit 2015 didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already, it wasn’t ground-breaking, but it was a hugely useful glance at the industry as a whole. Knowing that everyone appears to be pulling in the same direction is something which can equate to further innovation and it will be interesting to see what the hot topics are in Lisbon next year.