Leo Ryan
Digital Shoreditch, Uncategorized
The Intersection Of Dynamic Brands And Publishers

Over at Ogilvy’s Digital Shoreditch Content Shopfront – a dynamic content creation studio of Brick Lane, in the heart of London’s creative district – we opened for business bright and early with a review of the content published yesterday and what worked and what didn’t.

Social insights – the BLT method

Our own social listening intelligence and measuring of performance of content, plus temperature check from journalists at the main event, showed that temporal, fun and reactive posts like a Flipagram of our studio performed equally as well as in-depth thought leadership posts like Andrew Barratt from Ogilvy Pride’s view the business opportunities of LGBT marketing and workplace diversity.  We got Creative Technologist Navid Gornall to recreate the most socially discussed topic from the event’s first day in mayonnaise on a ham sandwich using a 3D printer (originally installed to promote Hellman’s) – a neat intersection between the fun and shareable side of social, and the of audience insight.

The agility of the startup

This was followed by the daily production SCRUM – the daily stand-up meeting, forming the lynchpin of an agile content production process – for the day ahead focussed on the startup theme of Day 2 at Digital Shoreditch: GROW.

Given my role in fostering innovation with social@Ogilvy, it seemed fitting that I should be the Content Shopfront’s anchorman interviewing two players in the ecosystem: Tarah Feinberg, CMO of KITE, a global database of startups and Mat Morrison, an investor in Collider, London’s own marketing tech startup accelerator. In neat symmetry, Mat and I previously established a startup together.

KITE lists over 200,000 startups for free and charges brands and agencies to access that database for their various and nefarious innovation efforts. KITE sits in an interesting position between the brands who are keen to partner with startups and the startups gagging to get their hands on some big brand or agency partnerships, and the budgets and credibility which that brings.


Tarah Feinberg had just stepped off the red-eye from New York where KITE is based and was showing almost no sign of being horrifically jet-lagged. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to get the unfiltered lowdown from him.

Translating innovation from startup thinking to the brand

Earlier this week I had been speaking to one of social@Ogilvy’s clients about the challenges of translating a bleeding edge innovation pilot in Sau Paulo to 471 Walmarts across the United States. From his ‘Very Large Corporate Point Of View’ that was one of the greatest challenges. I thought I’d see if Tarah knew the secret of cracking this.

Tarah’s experience was that there are two reasons corporations look to startups to help with innovation and two types of business who do this with different outcomes. I have resisted the temptation to translate this to a matrix, but you can see how it might play out…

In terms of the two types of corporations, he’s seeing a vast difference in the ease of adoption between what can be described as legacy corporations and those who are ‘born digital’. I’ll let you guess which ones don’t so much want the disruptive option.

Tarah believes the two reasons corporations want to work with startups are either to make some kind of incremental change to an existing operational process or to create some kind of fundamental systemic change. The incremental changers are the ones that KITE sees the most of. Which makes perfect sense to me, after all, “we’re going to get more efficiency out of our social media using this startup” just sounds better on an investment or acquisition proposal than “we’re going to subvert the dominant industry paradigm and fundamentally restructure our organisation with this startup”.

The challenges for tech startups in London Entering Startup

Next up on the interview couch was Mat Morrison. As an investor in Collider, the marketing tech accelerator, I wanted to know from Mat what he thought were the challenges for the tech startups in London. Mat was both bullish and bearish. On the up side he felt that given the presence  of so many of the world’s great agencies and brands in London we should be able to produce some truly great innovations and launch them with partners that can really give them scale. But he did also have areas of concern around the degree of contacts start-ups have and as a result a lack of understanding of context.

Typically staffed by developers, designers, and refugees from the lower rungs of the marketing industry, startups tend to lack high level contacts at brands and agencies. It is exactly these contacts who would provide startups with the context and they need to truly understand the opportunities at hand.

Mat likened this to a game of football played by a pack of small boys. Clustered around the ball in play, they leave open huge swathes of unoccupied field where real opportunities to differentiate lie. As a result they are either solving problems that are quite obvious and so also being solved by many others, or providing a solution to a problem that the market does not necessarily perceive to exist.

After a day of talking to Mat, Tarah and others in the startup world it seems to me that the nurturing conditions for growth are present in London, but some experienced gardeners might be required before they bear  fruit in any great quantity.


Leo Ryan is Global Head of Social Innovation and Partnerships for Social@Ogilvy.

The Drum and Ogilvy UK are working in partnership to share the latest thinking from Digital Shoreditch 2015. Read more at The Drum’s Digital Shoreditch hub . Follow @ogilvyUK for the latest news from Ogilvy’s Digital Shoreditch content studio.

    We'd love to hear from you.