The Refuge on Manchester’s Oxford Street played host to the first-ever Salford Sessions event on 16 March 2023. Organised by New Digital Age (NDA), the ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event saw three adtech companies make 15-minute pitches to a panel of expert judges from leading media agencies, then conduct 25-minute deep-dive Q&A sessions with each of the judges (and a selection of their agency colleagues) in turn.
“The idea behind the Soho Sessions is to get adtech providers and agencies together in person with a format that maximises everyone’s time and effort,” said Justin Pearse, Managing Editor of NDA. “The contestants get to pitch to three major agencies at once, while the judges learn about cutting-edge technologies in a concise and focused way. It’s a win-win. We have held a lot of these events in Soho before, and they’ve worked really well, so it’s brilliant to be able to bring the idea to Manchester.”
Jon Kershaw, Managing Director of PHD Manchester, Tim Ainsworth, Media & Brand Experience Strategy Director at McCann, and Emma Slater, Regional Managing Director at Wavemaker made up the panel of lead judges, who heard pitches from Nano Interactive, Adform and Sharethrough.
The team from Nano Interactive presented its targeting platform Nano LIIFT, which uses machine learning and advanced AI to understand user intent and contextual architecture at the moment of interest. The Adform team’s presentation then focused on its identity solution and its Adform Flow enterprise technology for management of the whole campaign lifecycle across all digital channels. Finally, the team from Sharethrough outlined the benefits of its omnichannel Ad Exchange platform, designed to improve attention levels and ad performance with a variety of innovative formats.
Asked for his overall impressions of the inaugural Salford Sessions event, Kershaw commented: “It’s an excellent format. It’s a difficult challenge to explain very complex products and solutions in such a short time period, but all of the teams today made a great job of that. It’s great to meet the teams in person, to dig into the details of their propositions in the breakout sessions and build those human connections.”
Slater said: “I really enjoyed the format. It’s really interesting to see new, innovative, solutions that I wouldn’t normally be exposed to on a day-to-day basis. I don’t work with tech solutions everyday, so it was great to see these streamlined, stripped-back presentations, explaining exactly how these technologies could benefit our clients’ campaigns.”
Ainsworth added: “It’s incumbent on us as agencies to be across new developments in adtech and to make sure we can clearly communicate the benefits and establish strong comparison between platforms in an increasingly crowded marketplace. This format works really well as it forces the tech providers to focus on what’s unique or interesting about their platform.
“It’s great to see that more tech providers are willing to get on a train from London and make the trip up north. That’s a real positive. Manchester and the North continue to grow in influence – long may it continue.”
Would your organisation be interested in taking part in our next Salford Session (or Soho Session)? If so, email firstname.lastname@example.org to say hello and we’ll get back to you with the relevant details.