The Festival of Media 2017 conference in Rome kicked off with the theme of bravery. What better way to test this than fearless speaker Michelle Poler of “100 days without fear” fame, entering the stage dancing to loud music. “When in Rome…” clearly didn’t apply to a bunch of marketers and ad people, as we stayed firmly on our seats, unlike a few brave souls (my client included) who got up to dance!
Fear as an obstacle to success
Yes, fear is an obstacle that holds us back, a point landed well with two panels covering diversity, both chaired by OMG UK’s Sam Philips, who has too many responsibilities to list (I have a word count to stick to). Diversity and inclusion in the workforce is a known problem, and discussing it is essential, but the panel were clear we should stop admiring the problem or making excuses. Some are doing better than others and it’s creating advantages in their consumer offering such as Channel 4’s Paralympics work in the UK. But it’s also creating commercial advantage too for businesses like Aviva.
Burberry showed no such fear in its festive film, The Tale of Thomas Burberry, highlighting the emotional value in sharing a brands journey, to affect how we understand Burberry which is long lasting and unique in a fiercely competitive and fast paced industry. What’s more is that you will want to watch it, share and talk about it. VW were there to remind us to balance this with amplification and making sure the right people were engaged within the correct parts of this journey too.
The layers of addressability
The theme of addressability continued further in varying layers of detail to suit your preference. At one end of the spectrum hearing from publishers and tech companies discuss header bidding, private marketplaces and more about the realities from their side. Higher level insight from Liberty Global, Bacardi, Renault and Facebook was clear that it’s about leveraging the data to find consumer empathy that allows brands to create emotional connections and reward beyond the utility of the product, and why shouldn’t we believe we can also create and influence pop culture as prevalent as brands used to. REI (US outdoor retailer) was one such example combining a powerful message about their heritage and making sure it was heard nationally. REI closed all their stores including online to get people outdoor on Black Friday, which was so well received by consumers, other brands took notice and created a movement. That’s courage!
No such fears with addressable TV though. Between Sky Adsmart delivering addressable advertising with enough scale (for now) in the UK and NBCUniversal in the States using it’s Buzzfeed partnership to reimagine the distribution model to reach new audiences in new ways with new content approaches, creates even greater opportunities in media. But it is also creating challenges around data and metrics.
The rise of AI
As if this wasn’t enough, the rise of AI has been swift in comparison and proven to be a very popular subject at FoM. IBM did a great job explaining the benefits and making the future seem closer through their Watson AI learning our moods in real time as just one example. Judging by some of the audience questions, fear was definitely created at the thought that AI may be marketing to us and making brand buying decisions on our behalf. But as Liberty Global’s VP of consumer insight reminded us, we need help with information overload, but we also have FOMO. As humans, we’re lots of contradictions so it’s as difficult a line to walk for AI and humans, as it is for brand storytelling and frictionless purchasing experiences.
Still a job left for humans in marketing for the foreseeable future then…