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Friday, March 13
It used to be so simple. Brands were meant to assure the quality of a product that manufacturers sold and consumers bought. But in the digital age, connectivity and community bring immediate transparency to most products, begging the question what function brands serve now? Digital platforms invite, almost require that producers have voices, hold conversations, build relationships – behave more like people than manufacturers. And now consumers themselves take an active role in shaping the reputation and nature of brands almost in real time? And then of course there is “brandjacking.” Reputations can be sullied so quickly online, but can they be rebuilt and reformed? We ask three prominent brand marketers to reflect on the big question – how has the digital revolution changed the value and purpose of a brand?
From showrooming to Webrooming consumers have been transforming the shopping experience with personal technology long before retailers themselves caught on. But with the emergence of in-store sensor and beaconing technology as well as m-payments, retail is hoping to regain some control of their own store. Can they? Will they? Should they? What does “consumer-centric” shopping look like? We ask retail brands at the cutting edge of these technologies what they hope to achieve in rebooting the in-store moment and connecting it to the rest of the consumer’s digital path to purchase.
From branded entertainment and viral video to native advertising and social media presence, the real innovation, creative energy and money in digital marketing seems headed away from traditional advertising. It is all about content now. Brands are publishers, entertainers, resources. Sponsors don’t interrupt digital media experiences; they help build and enhance them. They need to reach out to niche audiences in countless smaller channels with custom content that is relevant to that consumer. So, is advertising as we know it a relic of 20th century mass media? Is there still room for the big idea in this world of fragmented, personalized experiences? Is Don Draper obsolete?
A century-old media model is broken. The digital revolution helped centralized online ad spend around a handful of performance-based players and a direct marketing mentality. All other media are scrambling for a small share of a pie that is being diffused among countless startups and legacy media brands. There just isn’t enough ad money to sustain content. Publishers desperately grasp onto business models that ignore old ethical boundaries and bend to advertiser will. In the process they may trade away their core value proposition to audiences. Is there a future for the media business in all of this? What is the sustainable path forward? Some of the leading publishers and critics of media debate what a sustainable media company of the 21st century looks like…and how it behaves in the public square.
Saturday, March 14
The next great digital revolution is the full integration of connected devices into everyday lives. From activity trackers to wired thermostats and fridges, interactive TVs to connected apparel, the Internet is in our lives and our lives will be on the Internet. This is a seismic shift in how media is distributed and experienced, truly woven into minute-by-minute existence. Now advertising has the opportunity to really piss us off. We ask major brands what their plan is now that the screens have atomized? Does an Internet of Things force marketers to embrace much subtler and longer-lasting relationships with customers than classic advertising ever did? What is the brand’s role and voice when everyday objects, the driving experience, every location, is connected? How do advertising and marketing need to change radically for this next great stage?
Don Draper, meet Hal 9000. As agencies and their holding companies trip over themselves to appear “data-driven” and tech-savvy, where and how do the “big ideas” fit in? According to the latest industry spin on this perennial tension, technology both “informs and frees” creatives to focus on the art of advertising? Okay? Where? How? We press brand marketers and agency creatives to explore how the art and science of digital advertising really can get along. Are programmatic systems and obsession with analytics and big data driving everything towards performance metrics? Can tech-driven digital advertising do better than stalk users with their last abandoned shopping cart?
So you look at PewDie Pie, skydoesminecraft or CaptainSparklelz, see how they make bank using various models on YouTube, and figure –“I could do that.” Well first let’s figure out what kind of marketing opportunity YouTube really is creating for brands who want to partner with its leading celebs. In this panel of agency execs and YouTube successes we explore what kinds of partnerships really work here. What do brands want from YouTube talent? And what kind of results and scale are marketers expecting from this emerging channel?
When messaging apps first exploded last year most analysts saw little role for advertisers in these havens of chat, disposable and private messages. Now even ad-averse leaders like WhatsApp are looking for ways to bring brands into the conversation. But is this the right environment for marketing? Do chatters really want to be distracted from one another here? And what have advertisers gotten from early partnerships with Kik, Tango, LINE and SnapChat? Both marketers and message app providers explore whether chat really is a new medium they can bank on.
Mobile banner ads? If we bothered noticing them, we would hate them. Full screen interstitials, in-feed “native” ads and pre-rolls? Oh, good – the Web shrunken down so we can’t read it. Wasn’t mobile supposed to be different? Weren’t advertisers supposed to acknowledge and embrace the unique intimacy and portability of the medium? Wasn’t this supposed to be an opportunity to reboot digital advertising and save it from the invisible banners and performance-obsessed models of the desktop? When and how will mobile advertising be any good?