Data Is Great, But Advertisers Should Focus On Relationships First

With the fizzy Cannes Lions festival drawing to an end, Digital News Daily asked for impressions and observations from industry pros.

The big thing this year? “Data and Creative. Also Creative and Data. We used to call this personalization. The data itself is significant, and you would think that Waze, for example, would offer a wealth of location data (and it does), but it can tell us so much more about what people are doing. Another example is Shutterstock balancing the commoditization of creative at scale (e.g., Hubspot) while trying to maintain the integrity of creative individuality. That juxtaposition is difficult to manage, but they seem to be handling it well,” said Kevin Ryan, founder, Motivity Marketing, a digital consulting firm.

“People are talking about the tech and the data and the influx of consulting firms. It’s been coming for a long time, and the agencies are working hard at making themselves irrelevant, so I really don’t know why anyone is surprised,” Ryan said.

“Amazon dominated the conversation at Cannes. Its reach into the physical retail world shouldn’t be underestimated. As Oath’s Tim Armstrong said, we’re 'now in an era of industries merging versus businesses merging'," said Nels Stromborg, managing director, Retale.

Other key themes? “Stories first, data second. Data is a great tool for optimizing campaigns, but advertisers need to focus first on building a relationship with consumers through compelling stories. Then they need to look at how to employ data to refine their messages and drive maximum results. Data is a tool for enhancing storytelling -- it can’t replace it,” Stromborg said.

“Ad-blocking is still a big topic because the problem is only going to get worse. A number of agency partners we spoke to were ready to sound the alarm. To address the issue, major platforms are considering limiting the number of impressions served for each ad. Gone are the days of 500 million impressions served with one or two pieces of creative,” Stromborg said.

The most irritating thing? “People always complain (or brag) that it’s just a big boozefest. There is a lot more going on there, and you get out what you put in, just like any other conference," Ryan said.

What do you hope to accomplish at Cannes? “Cannes Lions’ innovation offers a different perspective or take on the business. While the presentations are a bit pitchy, we see the latest offerings, and people generally put their best foot forward. It may be less relevant to the day-to-day practitioner looking for answers, but it’s nice to see the broader strokes and they siphon down to the day-to-day. It’s like going to a car show -- you’ll see flying concept cars, and you don’t expect to see them at the dealership next year, but it’s nice to see where people are thinking," Ryan said.

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