By Mary Keane-Dawson, Managing Director at Neo@Ogilvy UK


On 2nd November 2016 Neo, Ogilvy’s digital performance media specialist practice, held a  ‘Breakfast  Briefing Town Hall Meeting’ in Sea Containers' fabulous amphitheatre, attended by our clients, our talent and many of our closest collaborators from the worlds of media owners, ad tech providers and our sibling Ogilvy OpCo’s.

The main theme of the Briefing was to explore the current debate amongst, and the accompanying dilemma’s within, the new advertising world – these being driven, in part, by the new constant of digital technological transformation and its impact on our day to day business lives.

Needless to say, when you invite a group of advertising and digital media peers into one room, let alone onto a speaker platform, you can run the risk of having a bunch of people aggressively agreeing with one another! However, nothing could be further from the case that morning.

From the outset, our speakers set the tone that characterizes the truly informed debate in this entirely transformative, and often confusing new age of consumer marketing.  

Our opening speaker, Tim Hussain Ebiquity’s UK Head of Digital, argued the case for re-evaluating the impact of digital media in the face of ever increasing digital content consumption, but declining advertising impact. Making some highly controversial statements around the continuing impact of the TV format being best for creative advertising treatments, he also accepted that the consumer, and in particular the Millennial consumer, is now watching fewer and fewer hours of traditional programming.  A trend unlikely to be reversed...

Neil Morgan EVP Global Digital Marketing at Sage was candidly refreshingly honest about the challenges and opportunities ‘real life’ digital transformation programmes can be for established businesses such as the one he’s leading. Two years into the Sage global digital brand aggregation, cross border and product collaboration, initiated by the introduction of a digital first communications strategy, Neil shared the stories of what has, and has not, worked so far.  He also shared the key assumptions, and consequent learnings, that both his global and local teams, in partnership with Neo@Ogilvy Worldwide, are having on this roller coaster of a ride!  

To close the briefing, Matt Nash, Neo UK Managing Partner, hosted an expert panel from and Ogilvy’s very own Makerspace, to discuss the ramifications for marketers, of a world where advertising has to be reinvented for the increasingly empowered consumer.

It is apparent that although these challenges can be frustrating for organisations from a cultural and traditional way of working perspective, for those of us embracing digital transformation as the new way of being, the advantages and opportunities far outweigh any perceived frustrations.

In summary, the panel's thoughts on what works for their organisations at this time boiled down to this: qualities of curiosity and agility are essential; the ability and processes to enable  ‘test – learn- iterate’; a culture that nurtures restlessness and constant questioning; the foresight of seeking greater improvements on results and utilising feedback into tangible insights and actionable data; and finally, a ceaseless appetite for the new, and most importantly, talented people making it happen now.

In terms of digital transformation, these all add up to the recipe that clients, colleagues and collaborators want to be part of as we enter 2017.