Web Summit Diary: Day 2
Day two of the Web Summit was a lot busier than day one, but – with all the initial registration tasks out of the way and a better sense of where everything was located – we got to see a lot more talks and presentations today too.
The first thing that stood out for me was that the number of female speakers on Day Two of the Summit – for the sessions we attended at any rate – had increased significantly, so that was encouraging!
What We Saw
A highlight from today was, without doubt, the session with actress, entrepreneur and model Lily Cole, who took to the Centre Stage before lunchtime to talk about her social network, Impossible.com, which allows people to post ‘wishes’ – things they may want, need or offer, which are then shown to other people. Lily, who is an art history graduate, was incredibly articulate, outlining her interest in innovative production chains, and touching on how her position in the public eye has helped her to build an audience for her platform and secure valuable media coverage for it.
Other than that, we spent most of the first half of the day at Centre Stage, where we saw:
- ‘Battlezone: The Role of Social Media in News Reporting’, which was delivered by Storyful.com‘s Mark Little; Matt McAlester from Time Magazine; Kevin Sutcliffe from VICE; and Spencer Reiss from Wired. During this talk, we were told that the model of ‘breaking news’ as a concept is gone forever due to social media and that, as a result, outlets such as Storyful.com are focusing on finding the first pieces of video content that will define a story.
- Twitter’s Adam Bain in conversation with Richard Eyre. This talk reinforced what I already knew about Twitter: that it is possibly the most influential social media platform and that it is growing all the time, with two billion Tweets being sent every two days! Bain spoke about the growing interest from brands in how they can use Twitter data in strengthening their market share, and said the main attraction for brands is that Twitter is “home to the largest set of public conversations out there”.
- ‘The Future of Media’, which was chaired by David Carr of the New York Times, with a panel was made up of Henry Blodgett from Business Insider; and Jim Bankoff from Vox Media. This was a lively discussion, with David Carr casting himself very effectively in the role of the die-hard, old-fashioned ‘hack’, challenging the new digital kids on the block. Henry Blodgett was particularly interesting on the evolution of online advertising. Google, he said, “sucked all of the oxygen out of the room for the past 15 years” but now – with the emergence of native advertising – we’re finally seeing creative innovation in online marketing again.
- A conversation between Tony Fadell, founder of Nest and Laurie Segall, tech reporter with CNN. There was a lot of hype around this particular talk: it was mentioned in much of the media coverage this morning ahead of today’s event, and the room was packed for it. And the hype was well deserved! Tony was fascinating to listen to, speaking of his collaborations down through the years with a range of Silicon Valley giants. He also spoke of Nest’s challenges in entering various European markets, and announced a new collaboration with Electric Ireland, whereby 1.6 million households in Ireland can get a free Nest. Now that Nest is part of the Google family, Laurie Segall put Tony on the spot somewhat, challenging him to state what he thought Google’s new mission statement should include. He thinks it should focus on accelerating positive societal change and removing the everyday drudgery from people’s lives. As closing points, he picked out transportation as the sector most ripe for disruption, referencing space travel, transport-sharing and self-driving cars; and he gave his definition of an entrepreneur – most (successful) ones, he said, are in their 30s; have worked with and learned from their heroes in their 20s; and have experienced failure.
- ‘The Social Network’, which was chaired by Caroline Hyde of Bloomberg, with a panel made up of Clara Shih of Hearsay Social; and Darian Shirazi from Radius. Clara’s top tip for those starting out was this: The hardest thing for entrepreneurs is not deciding what to do, but deciding what not to do. Good advice, I thought, that could be applied not only to entrepreneurs but also to those of us working in PR and across the majority of sectors. She also spoke very interestingly about automation, stating that salespeople who fail to address inefficiencies in how they deal with clients basically risk being replaced by machines. Darian Shirazi, meanwhile, spoke about how the EU isn’t a priority expansion market for Radius because he considers the regulatory environment in Europe too off-putting. Instead, they are focusing on Latin America for their next big growth surge, starting with Mexico, which he views as one of the most exciting markets for business-to-business products.
At this stage, it was time to get some lunch and we headed over to the Food Summit in Herbert Park. This element was much more impressive today, with a better selection of food and less queues – we even managed to find a perch to sit down and rest our weary legs!
After lunch, we raced (or were slowly pedaled!) back to Centre Stage to catch ‘How Data was used to win the Presidential Election’ only to find that this talk had been re-scheduled (who knows to when!).
As we were there, we sat down for a talk with Jonathan Klein from Getty Images and Brian Morrissey from DigiDay, entitled ‘Re-inventing in an Age of Constant Disruption’. This turned out to be really relevant to our work and it re-affirmed our belief that high-quality images are of the utmost importance when it comes to securing coverage. It was very refreshing to hear Jonathan Klein speak of the various steps (and major risks) Getty have taken in order to remain relevant in the digital age, including making 60 million images available free online.
At this point, we decided to make the trek back to the RDS to the Marketing Stage for ‘A New Model for Publishing’ with Shane Snow from Contently, but yet again the schedule had been changed without warning, so we missed out on this talk.
The Marketing Stage was the hottest area of the whole Summit (and I meant that literally!). So, not wanting to melt away altogether, we just stayed for one more talk there, which was ‘Native Advertising’ with Antonia McCahon from Pernod Ricard; Contently’s Shane Snow; and Michael Copeland of Andreessen Horowitz.
Following this, we made our way over to the Library Stage to see Neil Jordan speak about the role of technology in storytelling. Despite arriving 30 minutes ahead of this talk, we only just made it into the back of the room by the skin of our teeth! We were glad we did and Neil outlined how, when it came to making ‘The Crying Game’, the very story element that put the producers off (having a trans woman as a central character) served to draw in the public. He also touched on what he considers to be the most exciting medium of the moment: long-form television programmes.
And so, day two of the Web Summit comes to an end and the quest for mobile battery conservation continues. Roll on tomorrow.