Imagination Labs Talk: Reviewing Web Summit 2017

Web Summit truly came of age as a powerful brand experience platform at the end of last year.

Originally created in 2009 as a networking experience in Dublin, 2017 was the second year for Web Summit in Lisbon. With an audience of over 60,000 influencers, the new location has allowed an exponential expansion of both the reach and also the value it creates for brands, businesses and the technology sector through shared learning and deeper engagement.

From a coverage and reach perspective, 2017 was notable for the higher profile of leading Tech brands on the main stage, including Google, Uber, Amazon and Facebook, whereas in 2016 Automotive brands such as BMW and Mercedes had a bigger share of the news agenda.

The bar was raised again in terms of the quality and scale of brand presence. Brands as diverse as Farfetch, Mercedes and Cisco Systems used a combination of stage talks, networking events, hospitality and branded displays to make a big impact for guests, but they also succeeded in amplifying their brand experiences for online audiences, something that is critical for creating connected brand experiences.

Web Summit also enhanced the quality of the talks and content. A hugely diverse range of global brands opened up on their digitisation programmes, the recurring themes of decentralisation, integration, connectivity and sustainability were notable. Some brands, like Uber, Amazon or Siemens are clearly disrupting the hegemony of established giants through new technology. Meanwhile, established brands such as Hilton, HBO and Shell were also present, making the case for their innovative new approaches to harnessing technology to create a better experience for their customers.

Disrupt or be disrupted best describes one of the main themes of Web Summit 2017, with tech giants and start-ups alike all making moves to shake up not just their own sectors but everyone else’s in the process. As exciting as this may be, it also brings a number of questions into sharp focus. How will immersive technologies like VR change the way advertising works? Does the autonomous vehicle industry — still in it’s infancy — already need to start looking over it’s shoulder, as Uber’s development of flying taxis moves from flight of sci-fi fantasy to real world demos? And how will Adwords revenue be impacted by the increased use of voice search?

We also witnessed a trend for physical objects attempting to reclaim the future, with a number of pop-up shops challenging Amazon’s retail dominance. Whilst new developments in bio-fabrics reminded us of the importance of touch. In fact, this could also be described as the year that physical started to fight back.

Web Summit 2018 is surely a must-see on the calendar for any CMO looking to gain deeper insight about how to leverage technology to super-charge their brand and business.

You can also find our podcast for this Imagination Labs Talk on Soundcloud

Labs Talk speakers- Christophe Castagnera (Imagination, Head of Connected Experiences), James Watson (Imagination, Client Director) and Anton Christodoulou (Imagination, Group CTO)

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