Advertising Week New York is half over. But the learning will continue because it will take time to digest all the insights shared. The event is truly one-of-a-kind. The world-class leaders assembled to take the stage have sage advice for the next generation of marketers. Columnists at Grit Daily are here onsite to record and share some of the material presented.
Storytelling in the 21st century
Storytelling has been around since time began. However, it wasn’t incarnated as a marketing tool until TV debuted around a century ago. Marketers appear to be approaching video storytelling the same way that they did last century. And it’s not working. This is a critical issue identified by the experts presenting at Advertising Week.
Many brands are still “throwing their ads around” in the absence of understanding how and where their consumers are absorbing the content. The new paradigm demands a high volume of personalized, contextually relevant content. Gary Vee presented a thesis on the concept that content at scale unlocks creativity, but the challenge lies in its execution. Context, location, and sequencing are the new levers in advertising. And influencers are the new vehicle for delivery.
There are three C’s that define the archetype of the influencers: critics, curators or creators. To be successful, marketing campaigns should have a blend of micro- and macro-influencers. Doing so will allow brands to amplify select messages.
Since experimentation is critical, marketers were encouraged to test out new ideas. Surprisingly, testing is under-utilized across the industry. Presenters suggested that everyone in advertising take a bold stance. Moreover, to try something new and encourage their clients and employers to leap with them. Sadie Thoma, Director of US Creative Partnerships, Google was particularly emphatic on this point.
Advertising Week takes on AI in the media
Vince Lynch, an authority on AI illuminated how there seems to be two, distinct paths when it comes to articles about this exciting technology. One path is deeply technical. Literally in the weeds with the subject matter experts conversing at a level that the average consumer cannot grasp.
The other path is fear-mongering, exaggerated Hollywood-style. The opponents of AI argue that it’s taking over our jobs and displacing the need for human thought. Some alarmists suggest that we’re on the precipice of world domination by machines.
To counter this, journalists in attendance were charged with discussing AI with more specificity. Terms including unsupervised or supervised machine learning, reinforcement learning and so on should be used in place of the broader term, AI. The marketing leaders called on journalists to dial-down the threat of AI and to stop amping the fear-factor with regards to machine intelligence.
Advice for the next generation
The speakers of Advertising Week had some sensible advice for the students and professors of graphic design, marketing, and PR. Professors were “ordered” by David Singh to stop teaching the 4 Ps (product, placement, price, promotion). That construct was invented in 1948 and should be replaced with the new one which debuted around 2017. Consequently, students and their teachers were asked to redirect their attention to the modern 4 Ps (programs, pedigree, performance, and platform).
Collectively, the marketing leaders encouraged students to look away from the caché of the job title of their prospective boss. Instead, they were told to focus on how that boss, as a person, is living his/her/their life. Does he/she/they uphold the same values as you do? The answer to this question should be your guiding beacon.
Currently, agencies are looking for people who have cultural fluency and diversity. They want a unique perspective that can mesh with their target audience. Messages espoused by Singh included “Go where you’re celebrated” and “Be prepared to both pivot and progress throughout your career.” Moreover, his message was to be mindful and methodical with each move. He suggested that marketers make “deliberate judo-style moves versus attacking everything with a reflexive karate chop.”
Looking beyond Advertising Week, marketers have more data, more technology, and more customers than at any time in history. They are being challenged with developing personalized, contextualized, creative content at a scale they’re unaccustomed to delivering. Slowly, advertisers are breaking free from conservative marketing traditions and being given the license to create as they see fit. Now it’s up to them to get it done.