It’s no secret that advertising is really going geeky on us but the extent to which technology has been overtaking the industry is the talk of the Cannes Lions — the annual festival of graying honchos, celebs like Kim Kardashian and Marilyn Manson and 25-year-old CEOs of $16 billion startups that believes, in its heart, that “creativity is the driving force for business, for change and for good.”
“Digital Upheaval Grips Cannes,” reads the hed over Suzanne Vranica’s and Mike Shields’ walk-up to the event — which is expecting about 13,500 delegates, 12% more than last year — in the Wall Street Journal. “The ad industry is in the midst of wrenching change that is touching every piece of the business,” they report.
“The weeklong award show once meant to laud ‘Mad Men’ for creative work has witnessed a steady invasion of tech giants such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and ad-tech firms such as Rubicon Project,” they write. “Those companies have become power brokers as marketers shift ad budgets from traditional to online media. U.S. ad spending on digital ads is expected to increase 16% to $58.6 billion this year while spending on print ads is likely to slide 1% to $31.17 billion, according to eMarketer.”
“Today, content isn’t the topic of conversation. Today, ad tech is the topic of conversation,” MediaVest USA CEO Brian Terkelsen tells the New York Times’ Sydney Ember.
“The industry is increasingly not revolving around three-martini lunches, but around online ad exchanges that work like stock trading platforms,” Ember explains. “Data-driven products that give marketers the ability to target consumers and assess the effectiveness of ad campaigns have also gained some heft. At the same time, concerns about ad blocking and ad skipping have grown, spurring advertisers to search for new ways to reach consumers.”
Not to mention those pesky “rebate” issues, as several accounts do.
Choosing to see those metaphorical martini glasses as half full, the Australian Business Review’s Darren Davidson writes, “Some are predicting the imminent demise of advertising agencies but they are wrong. Advertising technology has introduced so much complexity into the business that clients need their expertise more than ever before. The rise of the Internet means creative services are in greater demand as blue chip brands get into the content game.”
And, Davidson points out, “To provide the vast array of services advertising and media buying agencies now offer, Google would need to hire hundreds of thousands of staff for limited gains.”
What to do, who to see, where to go?
“I think more so than in previous years the struggle will be balancing the big names on the main stage with seeing something slightly left field and unknown on one of the smaller side stages hosted by agencies and tech firms,” writes Rosie Baker for AdNews, the Australian trade, fretting about how to juggle her schedule. “The entire Innovation Lions conference program, a new two-day program that stands separate to the main line-up, is worth blocking out two days for alone, as sessions and speakers explore how data, technology and creativity merge and interact.”
Meanwhile, there is another and altogether different change in the air, writes Mark Sweeney in the Guardian, accusing the festival of “an attack of the ethics.”
“The wave includes hotly tipped LikeAGirl, the campaign that showed doing something ‘like a girl’ is not an insult, for feminine brand Always; Australian telecoms firm Optus’ shark-averting buoys; and ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ writer Richard Curtis’s bid to get media owners globally to get together to reach ‘7 billion people in 7 days’ to promote a new United Nations bill of rights to end extreme poverty,” he writes.
Then there’s Al Gore winning the Cannes LionHeart “for being an eco-warrior, and the ALS ice bucket challenge … [and] even a new award, the Glass Lion for work challenging gender stereotypes in advertising.”
Back to that 25-year-old CEO, Evan Spiegel of Snapchat, who told Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief Joanna Coles on stage this morning that “the concept of ‘fun’ and ‘being playful’ is something that ‘takes the pressure off being creative,’ Lara O’Reilly writes for Business Insider.
“In tech in particular, everyone is so serious all the time, and has these grand visions. But we really enjoy that people like having fun, and want to be happy, and enjoy being with one another: That’s just as important,” Spiegel said.
Did they say that in the Sixties?