Tag: digital

Personal Update – June 2019

Hi folks,

I haven’t posted for a while, but want to continue with my blog on a quarterly basis to give people updates what I am up to. Hence, this is my quarterly update for you πŸ™‚

After leaving my latest project 4 weeks ago, I have now concluded to work for myself. For the past 3 years, and those following me know that, I have gone through redundancies due to acquisitions in the industry and worked on projects. I enjoy being involved in those projects, and quite frankly believe that I am born to work on consulting projects, helping others to achieve their goals. It lead to me deciding that the best way forward is for me to focus on this kind of work moving forward.

At the same time, I have been contemplating for many years to become a full time business and executive coach, mentor and trusted advisor. Whilst this is straight forward, given my qualifications and validation through years of experience in this field and my business experience, this area is a lot bigger in terms of positioning compared to digital marketing.

Volker Ballueder

I am on a fact finding mission, in terms of where I will focus the business. However, it is clear from my experience that I know how to position companies, how to grow companies, and can help people to understand how technology works and what technology can do for companies. Carving this out for owner managers or businesses executives and making it work, has been a passion for me for many years.

So without going into too much detail in this post, I will be working with businesses to help them grow….revealing the how and why in the forthcoming weeks. Very exciting, yet of course scary times.

In the meantime I work with some clients already, from a small business owner to a career mover. Hence, if you feel that there is a conversation to be had, or someone you know needs a business, career or life coach, please be in touch.

Also, I can reveal that I am close to publishing my 2nd book. After publishing my book on productivity a couple of years ago, it is time to reveal my book on success, based on the podcast which is going from strength to strength. I already started recording for season 3 which is going live from late August 2019.

Please subscribe to my blog and updates, so you won’t miss out any official launches and further updates in the forthcoming weeks.

Thanks for the ongoing support, all help and insights are greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

Thursday Flash (14)


This week I like to share a couple different topics.

This article is about Stephen Hawkings and Climate Change – and it has a message to Trump in it too. Definitely a good read.

Further, a couple of weeks ago, Adidas announce to go Digital only – is that the right way? And would this really result in it taking on Nike? Will online be enough, without TV ads? We shall see.

Last but not least, a good read about 20 beliefs you will stop believing in 20 years time. Life is changing and so are our beliefs.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s flash.

See you next Thursday!

Sunday Column (279)

I seem to write the blog posts a week in arrear. Whilst I would love to speak about a great weekend I had with the kids, the wife was away from Friday morning, I wouldn’t have any time finishing it in time for you to read it. So if anything eventful happened, you will hear next week.

I cannot wait to spend a boys weekend at home. Hopefully we can make it a regular thing in the years to come, maybe away from home going fishing or surfing. We shall see what the future holds and where their interests lie.

So let me start with last weekend. I finally got off my butt to organise a night out with Jen. We went to Brighton for a superb Thai. I asked a good friend to recommend a place that is neither posh nor awful and he suggested just the spot. It was good to date again, be away from the kids and we hope to finally make this a regular thing again. Onwards and upwards. It seems like we are getting a better family routine now that the kids are older. Even mum can go away for a weekend.


Then Germany played Brazil this week. I am not really into football and not overly interested but what a German efficiency! An awful playing Brazilian team slaughtered by a German war machine. At least that would have been my headline if I was editor of the Sun. Never mind.

I have given my thoughts on Germany many times before, on the history, self confidence and being able to just get on with the job at hand. Here we go, a great testament. A good team, efficient, just getting on with the job. Now by time of publishing we will be playing in the finals. That means you probably won’t read my blurb just now and Germany might be on our way to become world champions. Wouldn’t that be great?

I would love Germany to win. Naturally it is the team I’d favour but also as it shows the team has such a strong commitment to fitness, team spirit, tactics, endurance and ‘once you got something in your head you will end up achieving it‘. I never thought about it in greater detail before but if you see all those Mittelstand, medium sized companies, in Germany, it is nothing but entrepreneurism, making their own work best, growing it to a decent size and getting on with it. Efficient, stubborn, driven.


Enough about it now. I had a good catch up this week, with lots of different friends and people in the industry. My company sponsored a summer party, we had a blast. The amount of people I don’t know in the industry seems to be getting smaller. My generation are now in key positions driving the digital market in the UK. I find that exciting. What started as a sales job years ago turns out to be a job for life in an industry I love. Sounds cheesy? Probably is. But it is also true.

The reason I bring that up is that I start getting this connectiveness feeling from people that we can achieve something together. We are on to something, driving the evolution of digital media across all channels, particularly in connecting TV to digital. Latter is the very exciting bit, whilst of course we still have to master mobile. You might read my regular thoughts over at MediaPost. Every month I come up with another digital thought and my view of the industry. I enjoy doing that and have many thought pieces out there.

Anyway, I guess this is enough for this week’s thoughts. Whilst the wife is enjoying a weekend away, I had lots of fun with my boys. Nothing like it in the world.

Have a great week, I will tell you all about it next week.


Round up of #iabengage 2012

I attended the IAB Engage event this week at the Barbican conference centre. I had a hard time finding it but arrived just in time for the first key note. A great venue, although coffee has run out by the time I got there πŸ™

Guy Phillipson, CEO of the IAB, summarised the mood of the industry. Discussing the economic downturn, talking about the growth of digital marketing and that it is making up 8.3% of the GDP with 121 billion GBP. The biggest growth is surprisingly mobile marketing. Or not surprisingly to be honest. More brands move budgets to mobile rather than video just because the reach and volume is available. I am certain this will change, but instead of more budget being moved from display to mobile my prediction is that video will be fed from the TV budget. Additional more TVs are being connected too.

People would give up chocolate, booze or even sex for a year to get Internet back if it was disconnected – a fact based on a study carried out by the IAB. That is because people are constantly online: on their mobile, tablets, smartphones. This is what we do. Like outdoor back in the days. Location based targeting will be a huge factor moving forward.

20121025-170416.jpg Of course social media will be big too. Search will produce more clicks from mobile devices than “online”. Real time technology will play a huge role: digital by design.

The CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo, was interviewed. As a true veteran of the valley, he confirmed that most tweets are sent from mobile devices. Twitter provides real time feedback about brands, and the best example is the US election and the debates which are discussed live on twitter. You cannot run or hide from real time social media, unless you decide to not sign up to it …

Both first discussions highlighted the fact that brands need to be personal, approachable and ultimately likeable on social media, in order to engage properly with their clients.

Simon Rogers from the Guardian discussed another great industry buzz: data journalism. The big data. Simon had some great data visualisation charts from the UK budget to the average income. He pointed out the difference between the 1981 riots and last year’s. Social media allowed for populating feeds across London. The data and information flow was immense and a lot more than 1981 when there was no twitter, not even SMS.

It was fascinating to see how data from twitter collected during the riots can visualise where the rioters came from, what their movements were, and what events, e.g. the rumour that the London Eye was on fire, peaked in terms of re-tweets.

Next on stage was Mark Howe from Google about “ignite your thinking”. He spoke about the fibre optic project, the driverless car and the Google glasses. No new revelations and a talk that didn’t inspire me at all. Whilst the innovations themselves are amazing, there were no new insights. Similar to the last Google presentation I saw at ATS London: a self promoting sales pitch.

Google wants to perform an SMB between now and this afternoon. Via a live hangout they connected to a Google team at the business. Nice idea…

After a short break and exciting catch ups with an old industry friend, who of course I met for drinks later on, Microsoft spoke about the Digitisation of Society. Dave Coplin suggests that search is about doing, e.g. the gateway to the web. I suppose most things you want to look up online, you enter those sites via search.

He made a few great points about the connectivity of people, about the location of service searches, and the connections between the people and those searches – it is about trust and recommendations. The web becomes a place where you meet, recommend and share. And, the phone becomes so personal. Your wallet, your window to the digital world, anywhere: foursquare, twitter, email, Facebook, price comparison, taking pictures of things you like. Amazing stuff.

I always prefer Microsoft’s presentations over Google’s. Dave also picks up on the flaw of the “big data” phrase and data protection. But of course it is all down to the “algorithm”.

Seriously, there is more out there than the black box sales. A close friend who has been in the industry for many years pointed out that after all those years sales people still rely on selling their company as having the best algorithm. There are things beyond black boxes, like data, user interfaces, insights etc. to differentiate offerings. But I am side stepping here, so back to the event πŸ˜‰

Doug Conely, ex Tribal Fusion now Exponential (holding group owning TF), spoke about data. So data and mobile seem to be the big trends this year. 2012 is the year of mobile and big data. Remember, you heard it here first.

Main take-away from that session was that data is worth nothing without actions. This has been true for years, if I looks back to my search days. When Google Analytics first came out, when we did the first A/B testing, collected data from conversions etc. We are so much more advanced today to be able to manage data and use it, and of course collecting it. Data protection as mentioned above is still a red flag.

Next up: ITV, Fru Hazlitt, talking about KISS – keep it simple stupid. With TV being traditional media, her insight and view of digital was very interesting. The rules haven’t changed as we look at context, audiences and content. From 2012 the digital switch over for free view has been completed, so this makes 2012 the year of digital TV too πŸ™‚

20121025-213153.jpgITV made their player available across devices despite research suggesting that consumers still watch 4 hours of TV a day on average, 90% of which is watched live. That is almost a working week of TV consumption a week. What else are we doing in Britain?!

It seems as broadcasters reinventing the advertising they deliver to connect it to social media, e.g. Mercedes allowing twitter hash tags to determine how an ad ends. It is difficult to link up traditional and modern media, but with the reinvention and connection of traditional and digital media, embedding traditional in digital channels, there is a way to not lose out against digital πŸ™‚ and we need to stop predicting each other’s deaths, Fru pledges, and embrace the challenge to deliver value to our customers – because the basic business principles are still the same!

Steve Henry, founder of decoded, spoke about his business model to teach CXO levels how to code in a day.

Lunch was great. More networking, good food, conversations. I also got myself a bag to put the collateral in. Whenever I think that I could not leave the house without a bag…..

As always after lunch things can be slow. However, Jon Mew from the IAB Mobile made a good start after lunch, speaking about brand engagement via mobile. His first example was AR (Augmented Reality) use by Brandaid. Very clever!

Also we got a live demo (or supported via YouTube) of the “deacon” app. A nice touch to use sound effects to change mobile screen colours. Simple yet effective for crowd pleasing….

Next was Nick Lansley from Tesco. It was an insight, yet not very interesting, about Tesco’s innovation team and strategy. Again, after Google, another sales pitch. I know some people are critical of the IAB event featuring sales pitches. The presentations are great, good speakers. However, I am not confident that the content actually justifies the price tag the event is asking for.

They also demonstrated a shopping experience in front of a TV – see my comments on twitter, I think this is the most useless app I have seen. Who on earth would stand in front of a TV at home to grab stuff out of a virtual shelf? What a useless session.

20121025-213146.jpgI don’t want to be funny. I enjoy the sales pitches too, good business insights, but why pay for Google or Tesco pitching to you?

Next up Matthew Turner from Sky. I have seen him presenting before, he is a good speaker. I liked how he entered the stage saying “I leave the sales pitch to the end” πŸ˜‰ he was speaking about failure which is part of every process. In real time. Every day.

He spoke about the “age of the jerks”. The adoption of technology is rapidly accelerating. I loved his case studies about the digital spend and adoption from P&G, Old Spice and others. Some brands just get it. I love those creative heads in agencies who come up with this awesome ideas that help brands engage clever through digital.

I love how over the next 12 months every person on this planet will use the picture of Baumgartner in the space capsule if it somehow fits. Challenge, risk, branding, … You make it work in your context πŸ™‚

The last session before the next break was Ajaz Ahmed, founder of AKQA. A buzzy, video driven presentation about how agencies can bring together several digital channels, including mobile, to drive brand awareness and sales. Cross functional. Loved it!

It was literally quotes and examples from his book “velocity”. He donates all the income from the book to charity. Wow. Full circle, he said. I really enjoyed him speaking about innovation. You could feel his passion for the industry and attention to detail. A wrong font in his presentation threw him off. I couldn’t help but thinking of Steve Jobs, that was before he mentioned it πŸ˜‰

20121025-213158.jpgThen he mentioned Baumgartner…told you πŸ˜‰ the following interview was very interesting. He gave away how he constantly innovated: looking and being obsessed with people matching his and his company’s attitude and vision. Very simple, often yet not followed through. I will get his book! A very impressive industry head with a great vision. It is not about technology but about imagination. Wow. Wow. Wow.

After the coffee break we came back to the last few sessions. The rows got emptier but we kick started the afternoon with an interview with Rory Sutherland. Always nice to hear him talking about the industry. A true agency man… a great self presentation with some good views about advertising, market research, innovation and him smoking on stage.

There is not much to summarise, particular as I am getting a bit tired now towards the end of the day πŸ˜‰ For whatever reasons I could only connect my iPad to the wifi cloud, so in my breaks I tried to stay on top of my work inbox.

Easyjet came next: Peter Duffy spoke about my most favourite travel brand πŸ™‚ It is UK’s largest airline, the 4th largest in Europe with digital at its heart. He admitted that what they do is not rocket science, e.g. increasing the spend per customer through up-selling and clever use of data. Also they are looking into utilising mobile more effectively, including apps and tablet usage.

I definitely like the idea of mobile ticketing. Also making information available such as a flight tracker and more insights that are available inside the organisation in order to inform the customer but also to reduce costs of customer service contacts.

Dave Gorman should have been next but no, Google had to show off via hangout how they helped a SMB to improve their business. Sorry guys, we know you are great but I am not interested in the sales pitch, nor a patronising speech about how to use digital. This is 2012.

Dave Gorman, who I personally don’t know (sorry, I don’t know many celebrities, I grew up in Germany), was great. He was cheering up the crowds so close to the end. Happy days. It was fantastic how he slagged off the SEO guys. And, “don’t pretend to click on banners”, excuse me? A great laugh.

The show was closed by Tim Elkington from the IAB.

In summary I loved the event. Some great insights, conversations and opinions. Not a must-attend event in my opinion but an event to attend every other year to get up to speed of what is happening in the industry. Tesco and Google clearly pitched and encoded was sales presentation too. But the majority of the sessions were great. A good get together, but maybe one should re-think the price.

Sorry, was that too honest?

See you all soon, back in 2014.


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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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!