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Interact 2018: Rob Norman, Senior Advisor, GroupM and keynote speaker at IAB Europe’s conference shares insights about the industry

Held in Milan on 23-24 May, IAB Europe’s Annual 2-day conference Interact 2018 will feature contributions from all stakeholders with a say in the future of the digital ecosystem, from advertisers to publishers, to ad tech businesses, politicians and regulators. Together they’ll examine the forces disrupting digital, how businesses can adapt to thrive, and how we can reinvent the digital ecosystem to provide a firm foundation for business growth in the future.

Ahead of his Keynote speech at Interact 2018, Rob Norman, Senior Advisor, GroupM accepted to answer a few questions from IAB Europe. Read more:

IAB Europe: Having been involved in the digital advertising industry for 31 years, you’re now an advisor to WPP, while joining the boards of start-up and new businesses. What is exciting you about the current phase of your career?

Rob Norman: I have a healthy blend of freedom and anxiety — freedom to choose and anxiety over delivering real, tangible value to the companies and people who’ve chosen me to collaborate with them.

IAB Europe: Has the digital advertising industry lost the trust of brands leading the charge on change. Most notably calls this year from P&G’s Marc Pritchard to ‘slash digital wastage’ and Unilever’s Keith Weed mission to ‘cut the number of agencies’ it works with.

Rob Norman: I think there’s an unhealthy conflation of moral, social, legal, commercial, operational and creative issues in digital advertising. This leads to sweeping generalizations and the creation of bad incentives. It’s not good.

IAB Europe: Despite digital advertising being a relatively new industry, are you encouraged or disappointed with progress in terms of reassuring brand advertisers about fraud, viewability and brand safety?

Rob Norman: I am encouraged. When media is a business of hundreds or thousands of slow-moving units, it’s low risk. When it’s a business of billions of fast moving units, the risk goes up geometrically. In that context, the controls are pretty good; expecting them to be perfect is a fool’s errand.

IAB Europe: Which brands (or business leaders) worldwide do you admire?

Rob Norman: All the clients of GroupM and WPP. All those people who would like to employ me as a consultant.

IAB Europe: What keeps you awake at night?

Rob Norman: The fear that consumer demand generation stops being the dominant gene in marketing.

IAB Europe: You seem to be busier than ever, but in some interviews, you say you wish to step back to reflect on the bigger issues – what is your ambition for the industry in 2018?

Rob Norman: Simple. Better allocation, optimization and attribution and better creative assets that are fit for the channel or platform concerned.


Join us at INTERACT 2018 in Milan on 23-24 May 2018! 

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