Web Summit 2016 - The Tech World Meets in Lisbon


I've just got back from Lisbon, where the tech world descended for three days is now over for another year. Web Summit 2016 is a wrap.

Web Summit 2016 Sunshine Communications

This was my first time at Web Summit, and with such mind-boggling numbers (53,000 attendees...) and names talked about pre-event, it was difficult to have any expectations of the event. The speaker list was phenomenal, the vast MEO Arena and FIL Lisboa was just a quick taxi ride from Lisbon's Bairro Alto, and almost everything worked perfectly. Even the WiFi.

With ticket prices as 'low' as €300, but as much as €5,000, here are my top three takeaways from 'where the tech world meets'.


Who loves infographics? Everyone did, back in 2012. I'm sure everyone has looked at or shared one. Irrespective of what they're about, infographics were the new way to present information quickly and in a more engaging way.

What I'm getting at, is that everyone in years gone by has shared infographics not necessarily because they were valuable pieces of content, but because the content took a form that was novel.

You see it today with Boomerangs. How many Boomerangs have you seen of glasses clinking?

To properly captivate our audiences, the story needs to resonate. We can't make garbage, and expect people to view. Their time is too precious, and there's too much content to consume for garbage.

This message prevailed throughout the talks. Create quality content, and people will take the time to watch. You've binge-watched on Netflix, right? But you've also probably clicked away in the first three seconds of a poor-quality video.


Any Gary Vaynerchuk fan will have heard this saying before. And he reiterated it in both his talks on day three:

'Mobile is the new television, and television is the new radio. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are the new ABC, CBS, BBC and Sky.'

Websummit2016 Gary Vaynerchuk

The attention has shifted from bigger screens to mobile. But what impact does this have on social media? Well...

With mobile, real estate is at a premium. Slapping a TV advert made for a 55-inch TV onto Facebook and expecting it to perform isn't going to work. It needs to be different.

The design process needs to take the shift to mobile into account more now than ever. Text on screen needs to have more clarity. A 1920*1080 video is going to be miniscule on a mobile without rotating, whereas a 1200*1200 video will give you more space.

Test, Learn, Repeat

It's an oft-cited concept, especially in digital. It's one thing to say it, and another entirely to actually do it.

  • Test different ad units.
  • Test different ideas and formats - 2D? 360-degree? VR?
  • Test different social networks.
  • And then take the learnings into your next tests.

Take the example of Vine shuttering. There are Vine Stars who are still going to be making millions of dollars next year as they've applied their learnings from what made them successful on Vine to Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Brands will still use them as the attention has followed - just to a different platform. People are platform-agnostic, they follow the stories. 

So, is it worth it?

Let me preface this by saying I enjoyed my time in Lisbon at Web Summit. There are few places in the world where you can hear from such well-known figures across a number of industries: advertising, tech, music, sport, media. Just to name a few. Here are my thoughts on the main groups:

As a startup...

You're exposed to so many investors, other startups and people who have been in your shoes, having either scaled, failed or exited. If you're on the ALPHA, BETA or START programmes, I imagine it could well be worth it.

As an investor...

Likewise. You're given what feels a little like a meat-market of promising startups from around the globe, many of which potentially could make you millions.

As a marketer...

I felt we took value from it, like we do from events like Turing Festival here in Edinburgh. If you're struggling to justify the cost or the time away from the office, a lot of the main talks were streamed on Facebook Live, giving you a taster of the full event.

For the first time that Lisbon has hosted Web Summit, I felt it was a pretty good showing by all concerned. It certainly gives the city enough to build on for the next few Web Summits taking place in the Portuguese capital.