Category Archives: AdSpeaks

AdSpeaks is a series of talks from high-ranking industry professionals for the advertising students at Macleay College. The talks take regularly throughout each trimester on Mondays from 10.00am – 11.30pm. Industry and public are welcome, but must register with

What is this trickery called retargeting? Is it effective?

Remember when you were in the market for a fresh pair of kicks or a new top to impress that not so special someone on your recently memorable for all the wrong reasons tinder date? You jumped onto ASOS and when overwhelmed with the choices thought “Fuck it I’ll look later.”. No? Well, facebook sure seems to think you did. Next thing you know your sitting in class, at work, on the train and you stumble your way online only to see banner ads from ASOS for the exact category you were perusing. Creepy. But hey no harm no foul you shrug it off right? And that weekend you’re out shopping with friends and low and behold find that perfect pair of shoes, tie, whatever, no need to keep looking but that’s not what Facebook thinks…next thing you know all you see for the next few weeks are ads for shoes over and over again to the point of irrational anger. Or is it rational?

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This is just one example of how technology is influencing advertisement and is more commonly known as ‘Adtech’. The example above highlights one of the most notorious forms of Adtech called retargeting where it roughly works like this; a website uses cookie-based technology that uses javascript code to follow those who visit the page around the rest of the web. This is done so anonymously and is done so in a way that the ad will only target those who have visited the said website. The purpose of this, of course, is so that even though Bob didn’t make it all the way to the ‘check out’, maybe he got distracted or something came up, brands and websites can subtly remind Bob about the new ultra shiny garden hose reel and other similar categorical items and hey, maybe Bob will complete the purchase at a later time and think fondly about that website.

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But is this ethical? Is Bob only buying that hose reel because he kept seeing images of it everywhere he went and now only bought it based on one initial passing thought, turned action off of subliminal advertising? More and more consumers are becoming irritated and fed up with the constant feed of adverts in their lives opting for web browser extensions that block all ads and it even caused big companies like Apple to start building these types of ad blockers into their own web browsers which have then been used as part of a selling point of their products. Innovations in technology have brought about a lot of new and amazing streams in which the advertising industry can play with but is the industry just being lazy?

The term ‘brand engagement’ is thrown around a lot these days where big brands want consumers to ‘engage’ with them but tactics like retargeting has had the exact opposite effect where consumers are actively trying to disengage with brands and ads so they can have a moment of peace from the bombardment of products and services shoved down their eyeballs. If you rely heavily on retargeting your potential consumers for your products and or services are you even offering anything of worth? Perhaps its time to think more creatively and do something that has consumers wanting to engage with your website and or brand.

By Lachlan Burdis (Bachelor of Advertising and Media student)

The Automation of Advertising

Macleay College’s advertising students were recently treated to a guest presentation from Chris Waterman from the Rubicon Project on the automation of advertising. Patrick Rutkowski reports.


Chris Waterman from the Rubicon Project with Patrick Rutkowski

After automation has revolutionised the accommodation (AirBnB), Taxi (UBER) and content broadcast (Facebook) sectors, the Rubicon Project is an industry leading technology company focused on automating the process of buying and selling online advertising space. Chris described how up to 127,000 auctions are performed on their platform each day. This process of buying online media space is completed in real time in only 0.80 milliseconds, which they are still trying to decrease. After about 30 seconds of posting and ad the space opens up to be re-bid.

This form of media purchasing is also highly personalised, with Rubicon selling space based on the type of user who is currently on a specific site. The company uses the profiles of users, determined though their browser cookies, to collect information about users’ search and user habits.

Chris believes that advertising agencies need to better adapt to the future of mobile media consumption. He described that marketers should start thinking mobile first, as it is the largest growing medium with an expected 66% of global digital spend of media budgets by 2018.

Although the process of Rubicon project appears to be highly effective by heavily streamlining the media and advertising space buying and selling it does have some drawbacks. The major one being as advertisers get better at targeting, consumers get better at resisting specified advertising. Adblocker software and cookie blockers on mobile devices are preventing the accurate targeting and consumption of online and mobile advertising, which actually facilitates for a lot of content creation on these sites. The Rubicon Project also face large competitors in Google and Facebook, both with a much larger reach in the industry and with large budgets to back them up.

Regardless of these hurdles Rubicon Project are still pushing to be on the forefront of advertising automation technology in order to best place online ads and communications in an accurately targeted and streamlined way.

By advertising student, Patrick Rutkowski

AdSpeaks Spring series looks to the future

Macleay College has announced the line-up of speakers for Spring series of its AdSpeaks series of talks by high-ranking advertising professionals.


The Spring AdSpeaks programme features the following industry and thought leaders:

  • Monday, October 19, 10:00 am: Natalie Krikowa, Creative Director Zenowa Films will be speaking on ‘Virtual & Augmented Reality – the Future of Experience’.
  • Monday, November 9, 10:00 am: Chris Waterman, Sales Director – Seller Cloud, APAC at Rubicon Project will present on ‘The Automation of Advertising’.
  • Monday, November 16, 10:00 am: Grant Flannery, Digital Planning and Social Media Director at The Monkeys on ‘Why would anyone give a f@*k? – adding genuine value to consumers’ lives’.
  • Monday, November 30, 10:00 am: Alice Manners, CEO at the Interactive Advertising Bureau will feature ‘The Australian Interactive Advertising Landscape: State of the Industry and Future Trends’

Head of Advertising at Macleay, Ian Thomson, said “AdSpeaks offers both students and industry the opportunity to interact, in order to best address the talent gap in the emerging areas of the advertising and media sectors”.

With the launch of the 2-year Bachelor of Advertising and Media, Macleay College is building on its expertise offered through the long-standing Diploma of Advertising, which has seen many advertising professionals find their pathway into the industry.

Previous AdSpeaks speakers include co-creation team at Mindshare, Adam Ross and Sam Turley, UX director at The White Agency, Sam Court, executive creative director at The Hallway, Simon Lee, co-founder of For The People, Andy Wright, M&C Saatchi group Innovation director, Ben Cooper and Zenith Optimedia CIO, Aaron Michie.

Selected AdSpeaks talks are open to industry, students and the general public. If you would like to attend one of the above industry talks, email Ian Thomson at

Being Uncomfortable is more than a state of mind

Consumers want value, in exchange for attention, say head MINDSHARE executives. Macleay College’s advertising students recently visited their offices in North Sydney to hear from the leaders of their Co-Creation department, Sam Turley and Adam Ross.


“Attention is one of the scarcest resources in the world today,” says Turley. “The bullshit detectors are on high alert: Consumers want authenticity and transparency. People are demanding authentic experiences from brands.”

Co-Creation is the creative division of MINDSHARE dedicated to pushing the boundaries of expectation and creativity. Ross and Turley say getting past the norm is the only way to constantly find lateral and creative solutions to nagging business problems in a society where creativity is increasingly more important.

“Everything in the world is a potential touch-point, says Ross. “It is important to be uncomfortable. This is where true innovation comes from. Things that are new are often uncomfortable.”

Media agencies are enjoying a change of scenery within the Advertising landscape. Where once they were the last link in the chain, now their departments are delivering holistic campaign solutions to businesses eager to explore an array of non-traditional options.


“The most important skills for leaders in the future are creativity and adaptability,” says Ross. “Data cannot alone save the world. It needs a creative brain to interpret it. But data liberates creativity.”

C0-Creation have noticed marketers shifting investment from paid to owned media, such as online social platforms and a growing trend in the media industry of employees with a diverse range of skills. “It’s important to ask smarter questions,” says Ross. “Think no-line. There is no more line. Think like consumers. You never fail as long as you learn something.”

By advertising student, Cassandra Sabin

Sam Court on the Invisible Future of UX

What a thrill for Macleay’s advertising students to be featured in Sam Court’s recent article on the future of UX in AdNews. See below:

As part of its AdSpeaks series, I was recently invited to give a guest lecture to Macleay College’s advertising students about the rise of UX.

I don’t mean to focus on semantics, but the field of UX is all about crafting experiences, not just screens. I’ve often felt that our industry obsesses about the screens that connect people with information and functionality available through the internet, instead of the feeling their system should impart on its audience.

However, with screens getting continuously smaller, everyday objects becoming “smart” by connecting them to the internet, and society’s expectations rapidly shifting, it’s clear that the future of designing user experiences is more interesting than ever. I believe our profession is becoming about designing that which can’t be seen.



Exciting times to be a design graduate

Like many, I came to UX via an indirect path. In the 90s I studied microelectronic engineering and I guess I was pretty good at it. In fact, I was really only good at studying it, not doing it. It was actually my interest in this new thing called “the web” that was taking up most of my time. The internet’s ability to connect people in new ways had me captivated, so when the opportunity arose to join a friend’s start-up, I jumped at it.

Back then, UX didn’t even exist. A lot of work had already been done in the software world defining best practices for human computer interaction (HCI) and optimising system usability. However, much of the early design work for websites seemed to ignore these principles – I was intrigued.

For students at Macleay and beyond, right now is a very exciting time to be joining the world of design. There are so many opportunities for those passionate about designing user experiences – from big corporations like CommBank, to management consultancies like Deloitte, to software companies like Atlassian, to integrated agencies like M&C Saatchi, to specialist digital agencies like White. It’s a good time to be a designer with empathy.

But learning the basics and getting experience are two different things. There’s a huge gulf between the theory and real world situations, where challenging timeframes and budgets are the norm. In these sub-optimal conditions, with limited available resources available to develop empathy for customers’ needs, UX Designers need to be able to think on their feet. And this is especially true if we want to progress in the discipline. If what we really care about is designing positive experiences for people, then we need to decouple ourselves from the tyranny of the screen – we need to imagine a future without interfaces.

Evolving to invisible

In 1964, when referring to the impact TV & media was having on society, Marshall McLuhan famously said “The medium is the message”. I believe that today, by leveraging the power of computing and the internet, the service can be the message. Instead of just shouting about a brand with traditional advertising, let’s design ways to improve lives.

It’s amazing to take stock of all our progress. From a handful of people time-sharing on a mainframe computer, to the PC revolution where everyone has a computer at home, to life today where each of us have four or five computing devices. Similarly, our progress from just making pages findable on the internet via Google, to the mobile web that’s with us when we need it, to an Internet of Things enabling what some call “living services”. And finally progress with interactivity, from command lines, to GUIs, to massive monitors, to portable touchscreens, to smartwatches, and finally to the smallest screen imaginable – no screen at all.

Screening our future’s screens

At some point in our rapid evolution, screens seem to have become the answer, without even bothering to understand the question. Do we really need ‘smart fridges’ with screens so we can access Spotify on them? Do our cars need screens so we can Tweet, even though about 10 deaths per day are caused by phone-related distractions? Do we need an app to unlock our car when companies like Mercedes had frictionless and keyless unlocking back in 2006, well before iPhones even existed? The answer is “No! We don’t actually need any more active screens in our lives”.

Three principles for ‘Zero UI’

Thankfully some guy, with possibly the coolest name ever, has developed three principles to help guide us in designing a world without a UI. His name is Golden Krishna, and he believes that good experience design is about creating good experiences, not about making good screens.

1. Processes, not screens

Study people, look for chances to improve their lives, and don’t start by thinking about a screen. Consider GlowCaps, as an example – they give users personal reminders by flashing, they send email updates to loved ones, they automatically order refills, and they update the doctor with a regular report. And they do all that without a primary screen or UI.

2. Leverage computers, don’t serve them

Think about the power of our devices, going beyond smartphones with touchscreens, or computers with pointing devices, and considering the various inputs available. Get machines to help us. For example, utilities like ‘Ok Google’ promise to quickly enable Spike Jonze’s voice-triggered, artificial intelligence (AI) powered vision from his film ‘Her’.

3. Adapt to the individual

Remember, everyone is special, so look for ways to combine the behavioural patterns that emerge from big data with that being revealed by the individual. A great example is Nest. Initially it might just look like a thermostat with a UI? But it’s much more sophisticated than that – it’s actually trying to make itself invisible. Nest studies the user: when they’re awake and what temperatures they prefer over the day. And Nest works hard to eliminate the need for its own UI by learning about you.

Planning for an Invisible Future

Obviously the Zero UI concept is meant as a provocation; it’s not the whole truth. There’ll certainly be UIs for years to come, whether they’re in the foreground, or just as a backup. But Krishna’s three principles give us a mechanism to imagine opportunities outside the screen.

My advice to the students at Macleay was to continue responding to our clients’ ‘media’ briefs for things like websites, apps and emails. These are always a great starting point for an ‘up-sell’ conversation. And it’s these conversations that can lead to opportunities to solve real human issues, beyond just marketing communication goals.

I also believe that it’s essential that every modern designer study people’s behaviours. There’s certainly a lot that can be learned by brushing up our data science skills. But there’s even more than can be gleaned by observing people too – speak to them, get their stories and stay curious. And don’t forget psychological and biological differences that might exist when we’re trying to be user-centred, rather than using standardised device inputs like the a mouse and keyboard.

Ultimately, if we want to design services of true value, we need to go beyond the screen. And after a morning with the students, it seems to me that the guys at Macleay are well placed to do just that.

By Sam Court, UX director at The White Agency


Click here to link to the original article in AdNews

The Rise of UX and its Invisible Future

The Macleay College advertising students were recently lucky enough to have Sam Court, User Experience Director from The White Agency talk about the Rise of UX at our weekly Advertising Conference.


Firstly you may be asking, what the hell is UX?

UX is User Experience. This examines human behaviors, attitudes, emotions and habits to optimise the use of products, systems and/or services, and make the end-user’s interaction with the product, company and/or services as seamless and intuitive as possible.

What businesses sometimes fail to understand when using UX is, ‘You are not the user, and neither is the client’.  You must think like a user and respond like one when confronted with a problem or task. This is where some businesses fail when trying to fully engage their consumers. It’s not what the business wants from the users, but what the user wants from the business. UX can help create what’s right for the end user, particularly through empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. 

It was fascinating hearing about User Experience Design (UXD), and all the different techniques for solving problems, dealing with tasks as well as creating better user-interfaces. I particularly enjoyed the process of creating a persona (based on consumer research) and a user scenario. This helped to create understanding of the thought processes of the target consumer, as well as it imagine how they use the product – like a “day in the life”. The UX design process can mean you may come up with many different personas and scenarios, since no two people are alike and we all use products, internet and mobile experiences in different ways.

But where does someone start if they want to work in UX? Sam spoke about his own personal fascination with human behavior and love of logistical problem solving.

Sam’s final point was the idea of an invisible future. He spoke about how we started with many people and one computer, to one person and one computer, to now where we have one person with many devices. He went on about how interfaces have evolved from big monitors to portable touch screens to possibly even an invisible screen. He talked about the Internet of Things, how there are households where we can control everything electronic with a push of a button on a remote command on our phone, to how this is evolving into location sensitive devices that can respond  just by us walking in the front door (such as the lights turning on automatically). This way computers serve us.

I asked Sam afterwards if there is a possibility of us living in a Tony Stark-ish home, where we walk in and before we even think it, the house will function the way we want it to. He said there is a future out there with endless possibilities.

By Macleay advertising student, Nathan Sarmiento

Finding an Enlightend Path Through Adland

THE HALLWAY’s Creative Director Simon Lee shares his journey with Macleay College’s advertising students.

It was relatively early on a Monday morning (10am is still early for advertising Creatives right?) when Macleay College’s advertising class was welcomed into THE HALLWAY’s conference room for a presentation by the executive creative director and joint owner Simon Lee.


It was my first time in an ad agency, and if things go well with my advertising studies, it certainly won’t be my last. It was immediately apparent that this was a cool place, filled with cool people. The open plan design, workroom walls of transparent plastic, and fleet of bikes make THE HALLWAY feel like a cross between a warehouse apartment, funky corporate office and a mod boutique. Simon and his business partner had gone to great effort to create an awesome work-space, and my intrigue about what he had to say was stirred, before he entered the room.

Simon’s Presentation “Following Siddhartha’s Lead – Finding an enlightened path through Adland” told of his own rich and varied journey into, out of, and returning to advertising, and drew comparisons to “Siddhartha”, Herman Hesse’s novel written in 1922, about an Indian man, who decides to leave behind his home in the hopes of gaining spiritual illumination.

Siddhartha’s story starts in a Palace, as does Simon’s. His first position was at Chateau Mccann, the French HQ of McCann Erickson. In Siddhartha’s story the palace was filled with opulence and dancing girls. Simon’s castle featured supermodels, exotic lunches and whacky characters including a roller skating producer.

At this point in his career Simon’s definition of advertising was: “Express yourself creatively, and write yourself into the most exotic locations possible”. As a junior copywriter he penned the lines for one of his first  TV commercials; “We open on a white sand, palm fringed beach…” and before he knew it, he found himself in Cuba filming the commercial on the very white sand beach he had described. Simon described that his motivation at that point was about the cool world that advertising could create.

After 18 months at Mccann Erickson in Paris he suspected that there might be more to life. Just as Siddhartha left the palace to connect with the aesthetics of nature, Simon left Chateau McCann and moved to Chamonix in the French Alps to make snowboarder films. But after 12 months of “sameness” he realized that Advertising still presented him with some exciting and challenging career options.

On his return, Simon carried with him the thought that “satisfaction would come from seeing his creative work have an impact, commercially and socially”.

The next part of Siddhartha’s story saw him become a merchant. He focuses on fulfilling his earthly dreams, he meets a woman and works toward building a fulfilling life. Simon’s story mirrors this.

He moved to Australia and though his initial intention was to work at Mccann Erickson Australia, he took a position at Lavender, to develop a deep understanding of hard data and the science of advertising.

At that time, Simon’s definition of advertising evolved to: “Driving results for clients”. Simon tells us, however, that when single-mindedly focusing on results there is a danger of starving the work of creativity.

After the next few years in Australia and having created a number of award winning campaigns, Simon travelled to South America to make a feature documentary. At this point in Siddhartha’s story he leaves the fast-paced bustle of the city and returns to the river.

On completion of the doco, Simon again returned to the advertising world, but had now found a middle ground between two paths, his passion projects and his commercial career. Simon started his own agency defined his new approach to advertising as being “the business of Affective ideas; Ideas that move the way people feel, think, and behave for the commercial benefits of our clients.”

Simon’s fourth and final definition of Advertising that brings all of his life experience together, is thus best summarized asMoving people, both literally and metaphorically.

Simon finished Siddhartha’s story by describing his final station in life working as a ferryman, helping others’ cross a large river. Siddhartha reflects that the river is a strong metaphor for life, where the source and the estuary exist simultaneously, and his own role is to help other transverse it. Simon too has become a ferryman, helping others move between creativity and implementation, problems and solutions and passion and existentialism.

And Simon’s answer to the question “In 2015, would Siddhartha still be a simple man looking for enlightenment? Simon and I both hope the answer is yes.

By advertising student Bryan Sainsbury-Hore.