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mLab Sydney 2014 - Event Wrap

GroupM's second annual mLab event took place over 5 days in October 2014 where media owners presented directly to GroupM clients, staff and key industry people.

A curated range of media owners were positioned through a 'circuit' layed out in one of the large sound stages in Sydney's Fox Studios.  Groups of 10-15 were escorted around the circuit receiving presentations and interactive demonstrations from each media owner.

Here we offer a comprehensive overview of mLab with a summary of the presenting media ownersmLab Event Sydney 2014 by Mindshare's Chief Digital Officer - Ciaran Norris - as well as media coverage including event photos, a video event wrap and daily AdNewsTV Videos. 

mLab Summary - by Mindshare's Chief Digital Officer - Ciaran Norris

mLab - Ciaran Norris'This week saw the second annual mLab event, where Mindshare’s clients are able to meet the media owners, tech companies and start-ups shaping the consumer landscape. Participants included huge multi-nationals, traditional local media owners, pure-play 21st Century tech companies and locally grown start-ups. Whilst each had their own story to tell, there were a few key themes which we can use to guide our thoughts as we prepare for 2015.'


Scroll down the page or click on these links to see Ciaran's summary & key take-outs for each participating media owner...

News Corp Australia

mLab Event Wrap - News Corp Australia

For a company known for publishing newspapers, News presented a new way of looking at the world. Sideways isn’t a new app, but it is the term they’re using to describe how readers and viewers (of Foxtel and their other video assets) find their content. Whether it’s snacking on tidbits of content whilst on a bus, browsing for local stores whilst using free wi-fi (courtesy of News) in a café or planning their night’s viewing from their phone and watching it on the TV, News want to provide content that is right for everyone, all the time. 

Take-out: they can reach broad audiences with truly locally and contextual relevant content and targeting.

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They started as an SMS service, but are now part of the smart-phonemlab - Shazam furniture, with over 500m global users. Built around a simple proposition, their demonstration showed they see opportunities over and above simply matching song titles, including extending TV ads onto connected devices with purpose built content. Arguably the best exponents of using smart phones to connect on & offline media, making traditional media clickable in their own words, their use of sonics to make silence ‘clickable’, thereby creating an in-store opportunity, showed they don’t even need traditional media anymore.

Take-out: if your ad stops at 60 seconds, it’s a missed opportunity. Shazam provide a virtual distribution network for brand’s content – like audio SEO.

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Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) 

 A radio network isn’t an obvious choice for amlab - Southern Cross Austereo tech event, but SCA brought content, data and an impressive piece of kit to prove why they were there. Using a Tesla to demonstrate what the connected car of the future will look like, the hosts of their Sydney breakfast show gave a compelling demonstration of how content attracts engaged users, with the mobile & social data then capture enabling SCA to target them at a very local and contextual level. The demo started with a history of radio and ended with the thought that radio is now a type of content not a means of delivery.

Take-out: Talent attracts listeners and brands can build on this anywhere, particularly when wrapped with different levels of data.

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It’s a simple product, with a lot of complexities which this demonstrationmlab - Pandora explained. Unlike most apps, Pandora is built on a human algorithm – the music genome project. This, along with very simple interactions (thumbs up & down) allows Pandora to provide a music streaming service for the masses – personalised radio essentially. By plugging into a new family car (as well as TVs, consoles and anything else that can connect to the ‘net) they were able to show how they will bring their simplicity and complex data usage into new areas: 60% of new cars in 2015 will have Pandora enabled, a hard stat to ignore.

Take-out: If you need to connect at an emotional level with a mass audience but want to do so on any device and in a targeted way, Pandora is worth listening to.

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  • Pandora In Focus - find out more about Pandora through MediaScope's comprehensive Q&A with their Aust&NZ Business Development Director - Rick Gleave


Local Measure

Social listening is nothing new, but normally relies on text analysis;mlab - Local Measure Australian start-up Local Measure instead use location to track conversations. This can then be used to respond to the conversations (such as feedback about an event or store) or amplify such activity across other media (photos taken at a concert or sports match). Local marketing is often reserved for businesses with their own outlets, but social means that every brand has a local footprint.

Take-out: brands should look to track or amplify any consumer interactions around stores or activations. 

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Beacons are a way of connecting via a new form of Bluetooth, one thatmlab - Lighthouse ibeacon has been adopted by both Apple (iOS) & Google (Android). This start-up demonstrated how embedding such technology into loyalty apps would enable retailers to target people walking a store as well as providing them with a seamless in-store experience, delivering personalisation, exclusives, value and a feedback loop.

Take-out: Brands with physical locations should think about how and why they can encourage customers to connect with them and the value the brand can then add.

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3D Printing Studio

The industrial model has factories mass producing goods butmlab - 3D Printing affordable 3D printers could see mini, localised production houses enabling consumers to produce highly personalised goods. On a negative note, they also offer a vision of a world where physical goods might be pirated, just as songs, TV shows & music are now: brands may have to work harder than ever to provide value beyond physical goods.

Take-out: Differentiation has always been essential for brands. Democratized production is likely to make that even more important.

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Users created hashtags to collect conversations, Twitter have made themmlab - Twitter into objects with almost infinite uses. With a vending machine that dispensed goodies in response to tweets, Twitter showed how social could end up driving the intern of things.

Take-out: Smartphones & social can act as remote controls for anything with an internet connection.

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Val Morgan

Minority Report brought the idea of posters that serve personalised adsmlab - Val Morgan in 2002: with facial recognition technology, Val Morgan can do that right now. Their product is able to estimate age & gender with incredible accuracy, as well as measure dwell time, whilst their programmatic delivery can allow truly targeted outdoor.

Take-out: Some digital publishers are looking to move away from out of date metrics; this technology could see poster companies providing similar levels of targeting to online with engagement metrics to boot.

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This installation highlighted, with typical simplicity, how central photosmlab - Instagram have become to the modern internet. The app turns everyone into budding David Baileys and the huge number of images captured during the day was testimony to that.

Take-out: The mobile ‘net is hugely image based; brands should constantly be looking to tell visual stories and there are plenty of ways to do so.

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The key trends that we should take from the event are the move to a constantly connected consumer, where even driving is no longer a reason not to be online, where content is still king, but can be broadcast in increasingly targeted ways. Clients wanting to focus on action points for 2015 should be thinking about how they can earn attention in a world where a proliferation of screens and content sources has, ironically, made it harder than ever before to be heard.

  • Media Owners:  If you'd like to find out how you can get involved with mLab in 2015 please email GroupM's Danny Bass or Greg Graham


mlab - Produced by Play Communications


mLab 2014 was produced and organised by PLAY Communications


Trade Media Coverage

AdNews - mLab Event Media Partner

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mLab Event Photos

mLab Sydney 2014 - Event Images


mLab Event Photos

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Further Resources

  • MediaScapes - well-known visual guides mapping all channels in the Australian commercial media landscape.  MediaScapes appear in presentations and office walls throughout the industry! Sponsored by round8
  • Newsletter - stay up to date on media industry news and opinion by joining over 1,600 media trading 'influentials' who receive MediaScope's newsletter each Friday.
  • Join 'We Are Media Sales' - a group exclusively for media & advertising sales specialists to access & share useful up-to-date information in a complex, fast evolving media trading landscape. We Are Media Sales is hosted by MediaScope.


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Full mLab Event Wrap - produced by Play Communications (click on image to play video)

mLab Full Video Wrap

AdNews TV mLab Event Video Coverage (click on images to play video)

Introduction Video - About mLab (click on image to play video)

mLab Adnews Video Introduction

mLab Day 2 - Marketers comment on the media owners appearing at mLab (click on image to play video)

mLab - AdNews Video Coverage

mLab Day 3 - How are traditional media channels evolving their products (click on image to play video)

mLab - Adnews Video Coverage

mLab Day 4 - How do marketers decide where to invest their money (click on image to play video)

mLab AdNews Video

mLab Day 5 - Marketers offer their views on the opportunities & challenges of keeping up with new technology & innovations (click on image to play video)

mLab AdNews Video

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