Advertising Week 2014 was in full force this week as nearly 100,000 marketing professionals descended upon New York City to talk shop and attend a smorgasbord of panels, seminars and workshops.
And this year, the vast majority of the events revolved around all things mobile.
While the focus on mobile should come as no surprise as digital advertising continues to take up an ever-growing piece of the global advertising pie, there were certainly a number of interesting takeaways from this year’s marketing blitz.
Here are the 5 most important points made during Advertising Week:
THE COOKIES ARE CRUMBLING
Social media giant Facebook unveiled its long-awaited and much-anticipated Google AdSense competitor. It’s called Atlas, and it will enable brands to leverage the social network’s massive amount of data to target ads on sites across the web.
Erik Johnson, the head of Atlas, maintains that the traditional means of tracking consumers — cookies — is flawed, because consumers are diversifying their devices.
“Cookies don’t work on mobile, are becoming less accurate in demographic targeting and can’t easily or accurately measure the customer purchase funnel across browsers and devices or into the offline world,” Johnson said.
Atlas, on the other hand, provides “people-based marketing,” or more specifically, marketing based on Facebook’s data, as the ultimate solution. Facebook claims that the new platform means that advertisers cannot only track users between various devices, but can connect online campaigns to offline sales in order to decipher just how effective a campaign really was.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
It’s all about timing. If advertisers can time their ads to reach consumers when they are attentive and open, brand performance is likely to improve. Okay, so that may seem obvious, but the art, or science rather, of getting the ads in front of the right people at just the right time is a feat in its own right.
The average attention span these days is about 8 seconds, and that’s down from 12 seconds from a decade ago. Given this brief window of opportunity, many brands have turned their focus towards mastering the 6-second Vine video. Yet the problem with this approach is that it does not account for context.
A better strategy for brands is to focus on understanding consumer behavior. Consumers are watching all forms of digital video content on all forms of devices at all hours of the day. The difference, though, in a consumer’s ability to truly receive the message may have a lot to do with where he or she is when the message is served. Contrary to popular though, consumers are not necessarily most attentive while they are at home watching television. It’s when they are on their smartphones that they are most receptive, and more specifically, when they are at school or at work.
Greater attentiveness and receptiveness drives brand favorability, purchase intent and recommendation intent. So if you want to really make an impact, make sure your timing is right.
Native advertising is arguably one of the biggest trends in advertising right now. Spending on native ads on social sites alone is expected to increase from $3.1 billion to $5 billion in 2017. Yet it’s not just the sales that are growing, it’s the practice of native advertising that’s evolving as well. And this means that our understanding of what works and what doesn’t is becoming more thorough too. Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
- Relevancy is key: without relevance, users are quick to reject the ad, seeing it as an obstruction that they are quick to dismiss
- Choose the right outlet: well-chosen outlets allow well-chosen topics into a success for both the brand and the publisher
- Authenticity: provide native content that is as authentic as the editorial site of an operation, and the content will increase value for all involved
- Integration: integration is a vital component of any successful native advertisement
THE HUMAN CONNECTION
As social media outlets continue to expand, with mobile feeds taking the reigns on storytelling, brands need to figure out how to best position themselves on social platforms. They need to find a way to feel more tangible and accessible to consumers. They need to find a way to establish that human connection.
“It’s important for consumers to be able to feel that they are engaging with brands,” said Marla Kaplowitz, North American CEO of MEC.
So just how do brands go about finding that human connection? Take a look at Skype. Skype realized that its real value was not in its ability to allow people to converse over the Internet. Its real value is in the connections it creates and the way it affects people’s everyday lives. Drawing from that revelation, the brand has taken a new approach to advertising, including:
- Helping young leukemia patients combat loneliness
- Teaming up with YouTube stars JacksGap for a new documentary series focusing on three women who use Skype in unique ways
- Connecting Guardians of the Galaxy fans with the cast and crew
IT ALL STARTS WITH DATA
Data has been around forever. It’s nothing newsworthy. It’s nothing fresh. But what brands are doing with it most certainly is.
“People think data is the new thing, and to that I say ‘bullshit,’” said Bartle Bogle Hegarty founder John Hegarty, who spoke on an Adweek panel called “When Big Data Met Big Creativity” alongside Chuck Porter, chairman of CP&B and Tham Khai Meng, worldwide chief creative officer and chairman of Ogilvy.
Right now, there is a massive amount of data out there. It’s what Mr. Tham calls “infobesity.” But just because there is all this information doesn’t mean it should be the sole metric to measure an idea. Rather, data should work in conjunction with creativity. In fact, as the speakers said, data are insights best used as an inspiration to reach and identify an audience.
As an example, Mr. Tham brought up the Dove “Campaign for Real Beauty”, which has received a number of accolades but grew out of a single piece of data — that only 4% of women considered themselves beautiful. “Data is the orchestra, creative is the music,” Tham said. “You need both.”
Another example is BBH’s “Keep Walking” campaign for Johnnie Walker, which grew out of the data point that its consumers were successful yet still striving.
“Any creative is obsessed with data,” said Mr. Hegarty, as it sheds light on the consumer. Yet data should be used “to guide us, not to be our masters.”
Mr. Porter agreed, extolling the creative idea as paramount. “In any new medium, the great story is the killer app,” he said.
And it’s like Mr. Hegarty said: “Human beings are not a collection of algorithms.” And neither are the best advertisements.