When was the last time you truly learned something at a conference? You may hear an interesting fact or a tweetable soundbite every now and then, but it's rare that one comes away truly impressed by a presentation.
Coming out of the IAB's Annual Leadership Meeting, I was blown away with how the organizers were able to so acutely frame the paradigm shift that's rocking our industry. The conference theme was "How to build a 21st century brand" and speakers included industry leaders such as Unilever's Chief Marketing and Communication Officer Keith Weed and Mars' President of Connected Solutions Leonid Sudakov.
However, the IAB also had several digitally native vertical brands (DNVB) present as well, including Away's Co-Founder and President Jen Rubio and Glossier's President and COO Henry Davis. It was clear that these DNVBs were at the IAB for a reason: They were there to show the industry what it looks like to build a 21st century brand.
In his opening keynote, IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg gave a sobering assessment of the marketing industry and how brand growth is in crisis. How technology is disrupting marketing is nothing new, but this analysis was focused on the old model of an "indirect" brand economy where most brands relied on capital-intensive supply chains and had minimal direct interaction with their customers. As a result, the power was in the supply chain, the retailer, or whoever was aggregating customers or audiences.
This indirect model started to get disrupted around 2010, with the rise of a new breed of company like Bonobos, Dollar Shave Club and Warby Parker. At first glance, one might mistake them for e-commerce companies.