At the end of every September, leaders from the advertising, marketing, media, tech and creative industries gather in New York for Advertising Week, a conference with over 250 sessions addressing the latest developments, trends, and ‘what’s next’ for our industry.
I was lucky enough to be one of the delegates this year. Here are my Top Three Takeaways from the gathering.
#1: It’s (Still) All About Personalization
Consumers don’t just expect content to be relevant, they demand it. They have come to understand that technology knows information about them and, as a result, expect it to provide relevant things to them in return. An easy example is this recent study by Google monitoring the massive increase in searches ending in ‘near me’ vs. the location name they are in.
Advertising is part of this expectation. Although we’ve known it to be true since the dawn of media planning and buying, connecting media with thoughtful creative and appropriate context will be more important than ever -- and this winning formula will continue to be better enabled by technology (especially AI!) in the coming months and years.
#2: Machine Learning and Marketers
So what about AI? Artificial Intelligence isn’t a new concept in advertising -- for years, we’ve been leveraging its power in the algorithms that learn across almost every platform. But marketers are now craving for AI to do more, and better. The coming year should bring continued advancement in this arena, but marketers have discovered (and must continue to remind themselves) that machines don’t know everything -- especially what they don’t know. An example of this is with the viewability issue the industry is working to conquer -- previously the ad tech machines were not asked to consider viewability as part of their evaluation, so they didn’t. This was a huge mistake, but originally human driven, not AI driven. As AI advances, we must remember that it has to start somewhere and the human touch is still very important.
#3: The Big Five?
In 2017, we all live in a Google, Facebook, and Amazon world. They’re arguably the three companies with the most power in our industry and thus, they have been able to mostly play by their own rules (with a few exceptions starting to arise this year). But are there potential weaknesses in their marketing and technology strongholds? Is there room for other behemoths? One of the most talked about assertions at Ad Week was the prediction from WPP’s Martin Sorrell that Tencent and Alibaba will be major players in the US ad industry in 2018. He famously predicted the rise of Amazon early, so these two may be ones to pay attention to.