Posts Tagged event

My #spitfirescramble 2017 review

Wow – it has been a day since the Spitfire Scramble. My first ever running event. I was told by my experienced runners and team mates, that there is no such thing as a race. It is an event. You do it for yourself, the team, but not to race but to enjoy. And, a bit surprisingly, I did. As you might remember from my last post, one of my biggest challenges was the camping, believe it or not. The camping itself I really enjoyed. I loved the camaraderie. Maybe it was because I had little to organise, no tents to put up myself or take down myself – I tried to help more or less successfully, and the whole cooking and meals were organised by a fantastic and very experienced team. I was welcomed into the arms of a functioning group of people who have done those events before. Thanks once again!

But how were my laps? What happened?
So I finally got to go out around 4.30 in the afternoon. Adrenaline kicked in big time. I was off to a far too fast start, raced around the track and it took me until mile 4 out of 6 to find my pace. Once I did, I finished in a reasonable time of around 46 minutes for the just under 6 mile course. Far too quickly to sustain it I thought. And I walked a bit in between due to getting side stitches, being off too quickly.

My next round, just about 3 and a bit hours later, still light, was better paced, no walking, and I came in at a similar time. Interesting enough this round I found hardest of all the ones I did. Mentally and physically. I noticed my head playing tricks on me, my legs being really tired, and you work yourself into a pace and just run. I then managed to sleep about an hour before setting off at midnight again.

This time it was dark. With a head torch and a flash light, some glow sticks put down by the organisers, I made my way around the course. Mentally not as hard, as you concentrate on not falling over. Some drunk teenagers on one part of the route made it interesting and with the runners field spread wide apart, it was lonely at times. But it was fun, enjoyable. Then my left hip and ITB started to seize up a bit and my knee started to hurt. Not pleasant at all, I came in just around 53 minutes. Still happy enough.

Now, so far I enjoyed it. Really loved it. The third lap seemed easier than the second and mentally I was in a good shape. My left hand site would relax again, wouldn’t it? I saw one of the on site massage therapists and he taped my knee, stretched my glutes and said that my left upper leg muscles were just far too tight. He tried loosing them, suggested others had exactly the same problem. I figured with his help and the following 2.5 hours of sleep I should be fine. I didn’t get a great rest, and woke up in pain a couple of times. When it was time to get up I meditated first. My head was in a very good place, and despite the exhaustion I think my brain was more relaxed than I have seen it in a long time. I was ready. I didn’t even feel tired.

With doubts I made it out into the early morning, around 5. Luckily it was warm, and the little rain we encountered throughout the day was neglectable. But as soon as I set off I knew this time, the leg won’t last. I managed to run around 3 miles without stopping too often, ran with the pain and continued. It felt to me that if I get to the half way point, I make it through to the end. It reminded me of my long night walks and trainings when I was at the navy over 20 years ago. I felt strong, and I felt mentally in a very strong place. I loved the fresh air, the views across London, the lights of the early morning. It was my 5 am time, my usually running time.

But then the pain set in more and I had to start walking a bit more. From there on it was running a bit, longer stretches of walking, running. I spoke to some solo runners who only functioned on ibuprofen. Was I willing to do that? Does that make sense? For what? But I was determined to finish in a good-ish time to not let the team down. I am not going to fail in this lap, even though I knew this lap might well be my last one. Whilst in a combination of walking and running I got up the last hill, I had to be careful to go downhill. My knee pain alternated between the pain I knew and other ligaments wanting to join the party. It wasn’t nice. I finished in just over an hour and that was me done.

My first event. My first wall. I was looking forward to doing that for a long time. Whilst some team members went on to do a 5th and 6th lap, I couldn’t. I am very proud of their achievements. I was afraid of damaging my knee.

So what is the post mortem? Was I not prepared enough? I felt very well, my fitness felt great, mentally I was ready. Maybe I should have stretched more? Maybe more massages in preparation? Or is my body which isn’t used to running longer distances? Should I train a few half marathons or do a marathon before attempting an event like that again?

You can hear from my voice, that I am already thinking about the next event. The next wall in my life. Will it be this event in a year’s time, or something similar. I love the endurance challenges, but maybe I need a different preparation? No, not maybe, I have to work on strength and distance. More focus. I wondered what the point of solo running for this event was and why people end up walking. Some people explained it to me, that this is all about the mental and physical challenge and not about winning, but about having a platform to compete against your natural limits. Solo running. Solo walking. This sounds appealing… or does it?

Whatever my wall will be for next year, I think preparation needs to be better planned. Last year, before I pulled out, I was fitter. I weighted 3 kg less which can make a difference, and I was better prepared. But you don’t know until the day of the race. The day of the event I mean. It made me understand my wife better and her drive to do another marathon. And it made me acknowledge the effort and preparation that goes into a marathon. And maybe I just need to do that. A better preparation, a more planned approach. A marathon? As I keep preaching about, a habit, routine or system, based on the event you are doing. And maybe this comes with experience, yet the main part is to prepare your body for it. Systematically.

My thanks goes to my team mates. The ones that kept up my spirit. The ones that guided me to and from the event track. The ones that cheered for me, and put up with my mood and my dead brain the next day. The one that was awake driving home whilst my body just shut down. Thank you, and maybe, just maybe I see you again next year.

And my knee? I think it will be ok. With some more taping, some TLC, some cooling, lots of Ibuprofen, a sports massage and some rest. I am certain there was no long term damage done. So yes, I am sure I will be ok. My calfs, my abdominal muscles, my brain and all other parts of my body will comply. They always do 🙂

Thank you team!

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AdOps Event London – #opsmarkets

On Thursday I attended the Admonster’s AdOps event in London. It was set in the London Film Museum which I didn’t even know existed, so a wonderful setting. I should add that the drink reception was in the Harry Potter room, but let’s start at the beginning.

Maybe a note that this opinion of the event and my understanding and interpretation are my own views. Not that of any associated company! And, please note that I tried to be as objective as possible. Any comments are welcome of course 🙂

Donald Hamilton kicked off the event with a nice introduction on data. Data seems to be the buzzword in the industry at the moment, and everyone is talking about it. mexad‘s CTO Guido Pfister was speaking about it also. Guido in his talk said that RTB (real time bidding) can be very effective even without data, arguing against the myth that RTB is ONLY data driven. Of course data goes very well with RTB.

Anyway, data seems to be only valuable if it is qualified, and structured. Donald clearly pointed out that the successful use of any data, online or offline, depends on analysing it properly and then use it in the right context. A theme throughout the day also emerged: publishers should look into how they collect and use their data, or whether data theft is being done by having advertiser or agency tags on their site.

There was another theme ongoing: TESTING. Yes. Having data available and adding bits of information from your online conversion funnel, then adding behavioural data (almost sounds like a recipe), you still need to test it. Go out there and see how the data works and whether it is worthwhile. Does it increase your ROI, your conversions?

And Guido from mexad was speaking about RTB technologies and bidding strategies. The first impression is still the most important, but look at the conversion funnel, the attribution model, your bidding strategy and do one thing: test was works best! Hence mexad works platform agnostic, working with all technologies to find the best possible way of getting performance from any RTB/buying platform. And, they have been testing a lot!

Why is testing so important? I believe that if you work in an industry that is very young, and then in a part of it that only exists for a few years…then there are no right or wrong ways only. There is still a lot of learning to be done, and testing is the only way to find out what delivers the best results.

Google was on stage, telling us that 55% of their inventory in the UK is being sold in real time. I wonder if it is almost 100% next year, or when we don’t speak about RTB any more as that will be the only currency. As this is the way the industry is going.

Then you had Jakob Nielsen speaking from Xaxis, the new GroupM umbrella for audience buying, DSP technology, data integration etc. Looks like a clever agency solution – let’s see how much of it is actually going to be utilised and how other agency groups react to the announcement of its formation earlier this week. As Jakob said, it is not “hokus pokus” and also will be offered to other agencies, being transparent in what they do. My question would be whether any other agency group buys into a WPP product? I just cannot see any Publicis or Aegis agency using Xasis, or a smaller agency for that matter. Maybe WPP agencies outside GroupM though.

In the IAB session about the cookie directive I was hoping for more clarification on the EU cookie directive. But the summary is that the industry should get in gear to find a self directive solution rather than getting someone who doesn’t know about the industry forcing us to adopt something that will kill targeting via cookies altogether. The ABC picked up on that at a later stage. One solution is an icon being placed on the creative to inform consumers about data collection and opt out. I guess it needs to be tested 🙂 In all seriousness, there is no “one size fits all” solution, and we need to look at a pan European solution on this one.

Yahoo!’s presentation explained some look-alike modelling and the use of offline data, e.g. Nectar card users. I think I heard that case study before, e.g. there was a trial in the US with the use of offline data by tracking conversions via a store card. However, not sure when we will be properly able to integrate offline and online data…

I also went to the AppNexus session about the 3 evolutionary stages of yield management, e.g. the evolution from tags to rules to data….I think that the explanation about floor prices and jelly wasn’t at the best time of the day, as I was getting a bit tired. However, there was a great discussion around the “manipulation of the publisher market and whether or not we are creating an open RTB environment like the finance sector does”? I wasn’t quite sure if I followed the discussion correctly but isn’t that what we are doing? And, speaking to “futurists” we should wonder if every ad server turns into a DSP or SSP in 2 years time, making local publishers available and get the best yield for them…..oh yes, we had some great discussions 🙂

The final session was moderated by Peter Kirwan. Just as he asked whether the Guardian could achieve a doubling in revenue from digital, e.g. mainly selling ad space, by 2015, the news broke that the “News of the World” was going to be closed down. I am not sure if the Guardian can achieve that ambitious goal but as Nigel Gilbert of Unanimis pointed out, the market is growing, so the prediction is feasible in line with anticipated growth of the industry. We shall see.

Another question was around the future of agencies. Again a futuristic topic, and Richard Wheaton from Neo@Ogilvy says that agencies need to struck the right balance to deliver value for money in the work they produce for their clients. And, that he cannot see advertisers taking “agency work” in house as agencies have too many expert areas and bring a new and fresh insight to clients. I agree with the latter having worked agency side before.

Marco Bertozzi, VivaKi, discussed the fear of agencies to lose business to specialists like they had done when search marketing came about 10 years ago. Hence agencies hang on to technology solutions like trading desks and DSP buying as they need to prove to their clients that they can deliver quality and performance in house. He also mentioned that they pay a higher CPM for some campaigns than with networks but of course achieve better results through buying data and working on clever re-targeting. Something I am not too sure about but maybe on the occasional campaign this might happen. Generally I have seen average CPM prices being a lot lower when buying across RTB platforms in comparison to networks (that is on a mix of RON and re-targeting campaign), besides data integration doesn’t necessarily increase the ROI by the same amount as you pay for it. But I have a whole piece about that coming up in the imedia newsletter shortly 🙂

Again there was a final finger pointing at the publishers to wake up to use their data (I am really not sure how often I heard that on the day) – some already use first party ad serving and are in control as it was assured to me from a reliable source, so I am confident publishers will figure things out very shortly.

Overall, the last session, given it was late in the day and the audience has thinned out, summed up the hype of display media advertising in the industry. I am excited. Display is back, and it is back in real time with real performance! We will kick ass with rejuvenating the top of the sales funnel and offer transparency to advertisers.

I left the event on a high note. It was an eventful day, good conversations over beers and a good vibe in the industry. About data, about performance, about display.

Onwards and upwards. See you next time!

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