2020 Visions: The industry also has a class, ethnic and neurodiversity problem that can’t be ignored

As we head into what is set to be a seminal year for the digital industry, NDA has been talking to leaders across the market to hear their thoughts on what 2020 holds.

NDA caught up with Dan Brain, co-founder of NDA’s favourite new industry show MAD//Fest to talk diversity and digital growing up.

What has been the most important development of 2019 in the digital industry and your professional highlight of the last decade?

The industry has finally wised up to the fact that consumers hate crap ads that follow you around the internet. It’s no longer just about precision targeting in 2019, experience and storytelling have re-asserted their importance in the digital conversation.

We’re heading in the right direction in terms of achieving a healthier balance between efficiency and experience.

My professional highlight of the last decade was using everything I had learned, taking a risk and trusting my instinct to launch MAD//Fest London alongside my co-founder, Ian Houghton. 

We had no idea what response we would get – the reaction and support has been phenomenal.

What are you most excited about in digital in 2020?

The battle of the platforms hotting up, Amazon’s strides into just about everything, and new and exciting start-ups which are driving new possibilities in brand experience.

Why should advertisers be excited about digital in 2020?

Digital is growing up and 2020 should be a breakthrough year. Annoying ads, rubbish measurement and unethical, murky digital practices are out, acting with purpose, principles and intelligence is in.

We are seeing a plethora of new companies entering the space. Other than your own company, who are you most excited about?

I love what Threedium is doing in the 3D/AR product visualisation space. You can really see the tech changing the way people research and buy products online. 

I’ve watched Good Loop’s business grow and bringing ethics to adtech is much needed.

What is your one Christmas Wish for the digital industry in 2020?

 As a sociology graduate, I’d love to see a more mature and all-encompassing diversity debate. At MAD//Fest, we constantly strive to achieve more diversity in our speaker line-ups and do what we can promote industry action.

 But what would make the biggest contribution to the diversity of speakers at conferences? 

Genuine structural change, fewer white, male, middle class hires in top positions, and more diversity across different organisations, including entry-level roles. The industry also has a class, ethnic and neurodiversity problem that can’t be ignored. 

Event organisers, industry leaders, HR departments and maybe even Santa himself could all play a role in driving more meaningful action.

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