By Adam Wakefield

A facet of the the work the IAB does, reflective in both the IAB Digital Summit and Bookmark Awards, is the role member feedback plays and being part of a global IAB network. 

“We rely on feedback from our members, what they feel the current challenges are, and we are also guided by the success of other global IABs, in particular, the IAB in the UK, where digital media spend is the highest media spend in that territory and it has been for some time under the expertise of CEO Guy Phillipson, who has been with the IAB UK during that transition,” Buys says.

“I think the advantage of being part of a global body is being able to take some of those lessons learnt in other markets and adopt them in our maturing market so that we can actually, in some instances, avoid some of the trial and error and go straight to the successes,” says Buys.  

Phillipson will be one of a number of speakers at the IAB Digital Summit, including Brand Africa & Brand Leadership Group founder and chairman, Thebe Ikalafeng, host of BBC News’ Outside Source Ros Atkins, Mobile Marketing Association of SA chairperson and Digital Solutions Group founder Yaron Assabi, and Gyft co-founder and CEO Vinny Lingham.

“The content-list was really guided by what our publisher and agencies members want to talk more about and we will package that to ensure the conversation is inclusive for our marketers so that they gain some knowledge that they can take back to their businesses and share with their companies,” Buys says.

The eighth Bookmarks Awards will follow the IAB Digital Summit on the same day at Turbine Hall with several new awards categories. This is again reflective of the robust engagement the IAB SA has with their members, Buys explains.

“The beauty is that, every year, we will have an evaluation process so that after the awards we can identify where we had a high number of entries, as well as those with lower numbers to allow for evolution of the following year’s categories,” she says.

“We were very lucky to have so many experts in the industry giving us their feedback. I’m quite confident the revised awards are a reflection of the industry and certainly by the amount of entries that we received, we can be positive that we got that right. We had a record number again this year.” 

Beyond engaging with its members, the day-to-day work of the IAB SA is done through its nine mandate-specific councils, specifically education, agency, brand, marketing, measurement, publishing, regulatory affairs, media innovation and research. Those who sit on the councils are senior industry professionals, and it’s this interface between the IAB SA and those dealing with daily professional challenges that ensure that the IAB SA is on the pulse.

“These are people dealing with the challenges and opportunities every day in their real life day jobs. We have a five-member board, and then we also have heads for each council. Several of the board members also head up a council,” Buys says.

“We only have two full-time employees at the company: Michelle Venter, who is a full-time administrative manager based out of Johannesburg, and myself. There is only so much we can do, so we are very, very fortunate to have these luminaries from the industry who give of their time and dedication.”

Buys has been fascinated to see how people who are very busy in their daily professional lives are still able to give their expertise to contribute to the industry’s growth.

“It’s remarkable to see what’s happened in the last year. Looking to the year ahead, we’ll share quite a bit of that as well as current and future digital trends at the summit. It’s going to be another epic year, I have no doubt,” Buys says.

Are you going to the IAB Digital Summit and Bookmark Awards? Tell us in the comments below.