Cannes was once a showcase for creative agencies but the proliferation of ad tech vendors at Cannes in recent years speaks volumes about the direction in which the industry is now moving. Today at the festival we will see Spotify discussing its Millennial-focused, mobile-first approach, Sony giving examples of the extraordinary potential of mobile content, as well as Mindshare and BuzzFeed coming together to explore how brands can capitalise on global ‘moments’ online – ensuring they “successfully ride the zeitgeist”. So what does this say about our industry?
What we have traditionally seen at Cannes is the pinnacle of creative excellence. In a time now passed, when consumers had few media channels to choose from and marketers could capture the attention of a large proportion of their audience via a primetime slot, a great creative was the most important part of advertising. The arrival of the internet, and the resulting proliferation of available media channels, have altered this dramatically. Audiences are smaller and more niche, which means that the right creative is no longer enough – brands now have to ensure it gets in front of the right consumer, at the right time.
This is where technology steps in. Marketers are becoming increasingly savvy about marketing technology and identifying the best solutions to help them achieve a wide variety of business objectives – hence the presence of technology at Cannes grows year-on-year. Whether marketers are using it for direct response, search marketing, for gaining greater control of their data or avoiding unsafe ad placements, technology, and finding and leveraging the best-in-class solutions is becoming crucial to gaining and maintaining a competitive edge. In this new digital world, marketing and business objectives have ultimately become more entwined because technology affords the opportunity to market efficiently by using targeting and optimisation to maximise campaign results, and, ultimately, ROI.
One of the huge changes we are seeing as a result of this is that brands are waking up to the value of their own marketing data, and the potential pitfalls of not managing it properly. Brands that take ownership of their marketing data stand to make the biggest gains, but, unfortunately, in a lot of cases this still isn’t happening. The industry has developed an inefficient system where brands, unable to harness the power of their own data, have to buy it back from companies with the technology to do so, such as Bluekai and Axciom. The next step for our industry is empowering marketers to own and activate their data – both third party and first party, across all onsite, offsite, and offline channels – in real time, enabling them to make personalised connections with consumers, wherever and whenever they touch their brand.
In this scenario we see marketers overcoming the hurdles that the internet has brought – and that the internet of things is likely to compound – by answering the problems of scale and fragmentation with personalisation. What this means for our industry is that the creative doesn’t just regain its importance, but actually becomes more impactful because each brand experience is personalised and targeted. For marketers, this means greater opportunity to extend brand identity and build positive relationships with the consumers that matter to them. This year at Cannes, the office team and I will be in attendance to see how the position of technology within our industry is being furthered – while also gaining insight into the upcoming challenges, and the ways in which technology can help marketers overcome these hurdles.