Why We Should Celebrate Automation at Center Stage in Cannes

Festival of Creativity Welcomed Nearly Every Big Ad-Tech Player

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At the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this week, companies at the epicenter of data, technology and consumer engagement sat at the main table and were integral in elevating the dialogue around the future of the half-trillion dollar advertising economy.

Consider the sessions that shaped the Cannes conversation this week, both on and off the main stage. We saw keynotes around the mobile revolution and debates about how best to "engage the consumer," keeping creativity at the core while incorporating technology and innovation to spur new thinking. In-depth sessions honed techniques for using data to drive insights in a real-time world. Tactical conversations on trending topics ranged from programmatic direct to location-based targeting and the growing impact of private marketplaces.

Nearly every large demand-side, supply-side, location intelligence, mobile, video and messaging player in the advertising technology arena was on hand telling its story, and the story of the evolving consumer journey, which we can see every day. One need only to stroll down the growing "ad tech" pier of yachts along the shores of the French Riviera to recognize the tangible embrace of innovation and technology that has taken hold in Cannes.

In my conversations with agencies, brands, leading publishers and application developers this week, one refrain was consistent: The current advertising model that has driven the growth of our industry for the past half century will not drive the next wave of growth.

The threats to our industry from ad blockers to continued bad actors who benefit from fraud and poor ad quality loomed large. The debate over who actually owns the advertising relationship -- with the brand, the publisher or the consumer -- also raged late into the night.

I leave Cannes looking forward. Leaders from nearly every part of our industry acknowledged the need for an evolved approach to consumer engagement, driving ourselves to think differently in a mobile world, to maximize the power of data to reach consumers in far deeper and more effective ways.

We must continue to be creatively bold as an industry while ensuring we place the consumer at the center of the dialogue in the coming months and years, empowering them with greater control and a better, more relevant user experience. We need to break free from the seemingly endless array of meaningless terms and industry jargon that confuse the market and hinder the evolution we all want to see advance. Terms like "programmatic" and "automated guaranteed" need to give way to a far more transparent and exciting conversation. Let's focus on the benefits of unleashing the power of automated marketplaces, moving advertising from broadcasted messaging for the masses to personally relevant and desired information fueling a real-time economy unlike anything we have ever seen before.

This conversation can't end at the Nice airport.