Robert Jenkyn talks tectonic digital changes

The former Media Experts SVP on his first months at Microsoft Advertising, fragmentation, customization and why creative will be the differentiator.
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Robert Jenkyn worked as SVP of digital solutions at Media Experts for over six years before making the move to the publisher side in late  2012, joining Microsoft Advertising Canada as its head of creative solutions.

MiC checked in with Jenkyn to see how his first months have gone and what he sees as the major trends in digital for the coming year.

Why did you make the switch from the agency to the publisher side of the industry?

Jenkyn: This particular opportunity for me stood at the intersection of the future of advertising. I see the industry taking two paths going forward, one is highly customized and one is programmatic. On the programmatic side you have RTB and the ad exchanges, technological connection to inventory. And on the customized side it’s more about content integration, unique and authentic brand experiences. My remit covers all of these things. Microsoft is going through a tectonic shift on how they do business through platforms like Xbox and Skype with a focus on native advertising.

What are some of the major digital trends coming for 2013 in Canada?

Jenkyn: The three big trends I see are fragmentation, the rise of customization and creative being the differentiator. Fragmentation in that the lines between traditional and digital media or content are starting to blur, and you’re seeing things like the rise of over-the-top services. One of the interesting things we have seen on the Microsoft side is with Xbox: more people are using the platform for entertainment than they are for gaming, with 43% using it for watching movies and TV, 40% using it for playing video games and 17% using the platform for social media.

Of course these trends with over-the-top services change the game for linear broadcasters, because people can watch whole seasons of things like Breaking Bad on Netflix now. So how will audiences be reached if people are watching shows online, on-demand? The challenge is to create more customized ads that better reach people. That was a theme at this week’s CMDC conference: bringing that authentic content experience to people. [It is] not just having a product placement on a show. Advertisers have an opportunity to deliver that experience, that programming to audiences in a meaningful way.

That is where creativity comes in. It is going to be more difficult to engage audiences but storytelling is the root of all advertising and that’s where the rubber is going to hit the road. Advertisers that can tell great stories and fit them into the appropriate platforms are going to be the ones that win.

What are some challenges to these trends taking shape in Canada?

Jenkyn: The issue in Canada will be the confidence of advertisers to take the risks and start taking budgets from traditional media like broadcast and extend that elsewhere. Advertisers want the coolest creative. They want to tell the coolest stories but they also want to save money. So there might be a trend towards going for the tried and true thing they did last quarter, but I think there is an appetite in the industry to take the digital world by storm and make new and unique executions – engaging audiences in a way that doesn’t disrupt them. That is the sense I am getting from the initial conversations I am having with creative shops in my new role.