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You know when your boss tells you to come to them with solutions, not problems? At this year’s Ad:Tech London – through the fog of acronyms and #marketing buzzwords – we glimpsed an awful lot both. And it’s all because technology is grabbing the entire marketing industry by the shoulders and giving it a good old shake. There were a whole host of themes up for discussion, including:

  • How can brands communicate more effectively with consumers via their phones, without being ignored or frozen out by one of the many readily-available ad blocking apps?
  • SHOULD brands even be attempting to market to people via their phones, and if not what does that mean for marketing, when people spend more time looking at their phones than pretty much anything else nowadays?
  • Do consumers REALLY want better targeted advertising, or do we need to rethink advertising’s core function in this age of consumer choice and abundant information?
  • Do consumers REALLY want a ‘dialogue’ or ‘relationship’ with your brand? Or is it something else entirely?
  • What are the biggest trends in ad tech right now, and are they helping to address the issues that keep marketers awake at night – or just adding to the ‘to do’ list?

And so on. There’s almost too much to talk about; the conference organisers clearly had a challenge on their hands, running seminars for novices on the ins and outs of programmatic advertising alongside C-level keynotes from the likes of and Shell focusing on social engagement.

One of the biggest challenges marketers are facing is how to make advertising relevant and interesting again in the digital world. Blippar, a hugely innovative company, which describes itself as the “first visual discovery browser using augmented reality and image recognition technology to transform how people connect with the world,” may just hold the key to overcoming this challenge. The mobile app – which recognises and provides information and experiences related to objects in the real world, via your phone’s camera – is a real-life example of nascent machine learning technology, the bedrock of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and many of the latest predictions from tech thought leaders including Mark Zuckerberg.

We were excited to see a demo of the app at the company’s expo stand, and to hear from the company’s CEO, Ambarish Mitra, about the future of AR (augmented reality) in marketing. As Facebook’s Steve Hatch said during his keynote, “People don’t dislike advertising, they dislike advertising that adds no value to them.” However, Blippar is one company that’s adding real value to consumers by providing a platform for brands such as Pepsi and Heinz to deliver truly engaging content and experiences. We can’t wait to see how it develops.