500+ attendees, 131 phenomenal speakers and 36 pages of handwritten notes. This was both my first and last trip to Ad:Tech New York. That’s right - Ad:Tech, named by AdWeek as one of the top ten conferences every digital marketer should attend, is rebranding itself to deliver new experiences during this transformative time in our industry. During the opening remarks, Ad:Tech unveiled M.A.D.E., their new identity for the next 20 years. M.A.D.E. not only believes in the power of ideas, but also in the people behind the progress: the makers, doers and thinkers. As a first-time attendee, it was very obvious that this was a beloved gathering by many loyal industry professionals and was well worth my trek to The Big Apple. Below is an initial look at a few of the topics tugging on my brain.
Three Key Takeaways:
- Empowered Age: We are here. If you have “empower” in your mission statement, I would recommend that you change it, or at least change the way you think about empowerment. Consumers are already unleashed. It’s less about what campaign you throw at them and more about how you facilitate experiences with your brand and then react to watching them absorb, use and manipulate your services to best fit into their lives. A good example of this is the shift from ownership to access. Services like Uber are removing any transportation barriers and challenges of owning a car by being a cost effective, consistent service that anyone can access anywhere. Consumers today have everything at their fingertips, literally, moving the industry from marketing to self-marketing. Therefore, it’s time to stop shoving empowerment down our (Millennial) throats and instead align with us as we reinvent the world around us.
- Digitization is unstoppable, yet the future is analog. Here’s a brain-buster for you: while the spread of ideas, people and goods continues to be digitized at a rapid pace, it’s important to remember that advertising is about humans and humans are analog beings. Facebook, one of two powerhouses in our industry, is focused entirely on connections, food and places. At its core, advertising is still about winning over the hearts and minds of our consumers. Being analog in a digital world presents a unique and exciting challenge and is the reason why everyone is gabbing about cross-screen content. It’s no longer okay to use the same creative for pre-roll and VR. Humans are complex beings and expect us to talk to them in different ways pending the different state of mind a user is in when viewing video content via their mobile device or at home in their living room.
- BYOD: bring a data dish to digest. (Yes, I have Thanksgiving on the brain.) Data has been the buzzword of 2016, and it’s no wonder why. From check-ins to kinetics, data is being collected at every corner. Yet the industry itself is currently lacking any metric standardization or consistent platform benchmarks, causing confusion and an overall lack of data being put to good use. It’s also putting a strain on our customer relationships. The industry is currently digging deep, targeting at such a granular level. But when we get there, we have nothing to say. For example, a customer doesn’t actually want a 1:1 relationship with someone like Tylenol; they just want their headache to go away. Consumers are thinking, “why are you saying X to me when you know everything there is to know about me?” Moving forward, it’s going to be imperative that we overlay all data present and then team up to define what metrics matter the most and optimize towards those one or two KPIs.
Two Things I'm Stoked For:
- Virtual Reality becoming more accessible and understood. (SO much more to come on this topic- here is a good place to start.)
- Social good initiatives are finding their stride around the globe. I can’t stress enough the importance of putting together a well thought out philanthropy strategy. It’s not about bragging; it’s just about defining and celebrating the good you are doing in your communities.
One Word Everyone is Talking About: ScalableMost importantly, I learned that the more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know. The story of our industry is being written and rewritten each and every day, and we are on the cusp of so many new advances. One thing is for sure: the future is brighter than ever thanks to that stupid device in your pocket.