Forget "Thursday is the new Friday." Thursday is the new last-day-of-Advertising-Week. There is a light at the end of this subway tunnel and thankfully it is not the lights of Times Square.
Here's what's on tap — literally — today. Ad Age editor Brian Braiker will be speaking at something called the TAP conference, which is not Advertising Week, but scheduled cheekily during Advertising Week, near Advertising Week Ground Zero, packed with panels that could easily be at Advertising Week. He'll be having a conversation with Dotdash (formerly About.com) CEO Neil Vogel. The two will banter all things rebrand and vertical and data-based decision making.
TV and video reporter Jeannine Poggi will also be on stage at a non-Advertising Week thing that is also held during Advertising Week but is not Advertising Week-related. (Today's theme: If you can't beat 'em, do something juuuuust like 'em.) Jeannine will be handing out awards and moderating a panel at the TVB NEXT Awards, which "honor tomorrow's leaders in the media selling, buying, planning and advertising operations."
We'll also have reporters filing from panels about "brands as experience" and "media as experience." There is so much to experience! Transparency, brand safety. Plus a little Snap. We'll keep track of it here, transparently.
Post-lunch on the last day of Advertising Week, it's fair to say we're all running on steam. But the conference delved into one of the meatiest topics in the industry today in a pair of panels centered on transparency: "Trust, Safety & The Pursuit of Transparency" and another on transparency in adtech.
Jess Barrett, global head of programmatic at the Financial Times, put it bluntly: "I think there's still a very big lack of trust ... We're a bit at rock bottom as it is."
Martin Cass, CEO of MDC Media Partners and Assembly, delivered some real talk while his panel discussed whether holding companies were feeling the effects of a recent spotlight on transparency.
"I don't buy the old, 'CPG stopped spending, therefore we don't make any money, that's why our numbers are down,' I'm not buying that," Cass said in comments that weren't dissimilar to what he told us last month after WPP posted surprisingly weak second quarter earnings.
"I'm nervous about making a direct causal link between arbitrage and the fact that that's getting pushed back," but he said it isn't that difficult to make the link.
It's a touchy topic but as many marketers appear to be looking at their agency contracts more closely, it looks like this transparency topic (and any related fallout) will be a continued area of focus in our world.
-- Megan Graham
Snapchat's head of content Nick Bell used the "B" word: Brands.
At an on-stage interview Thursday, Bell said brand integrations are headed to Snapchat. "With Shows, we are obsessing over how we can most tightly integrate brands into the programming," Bell said, during the talk with Snapchat partner and media maven Elisabeth Murdoch. "Those conversations are constantly ongoing about how we can innovate in that space."
The messaging and media service has been notoriously brand averse, hesitant to mix advertising with content, whether that's content from top media partners or from its millions of daily Snapchat users. Also, Snapchat has not made it easy for brands to start organic accounts and be discovered by the masses of users, and it has been reluctant to let publishing partners promote brands in their videos and articles inside the app's media section.
That is changing as Snapchat develops shows with publishing and television partners such as Murdoch, who founded Vertical Networks to create the next-generation of mobile video programming.
Vertical Networks runs a daily magazine created for Snapchat called Brother, which Murdoch said is now at 7 million daily viewers, after getting off to a rocky start last summer where it had trouble topping a million. Brother needed digital-native, mobile thinking staff.
"We had to find hybrid people," Murdoch said, of the types of producers the company needed. "Anybody from television or publishing couldn't break the rules fast enough."
On top of the mobile magazine, Vertical Networks also produces shows like "Phone Swap," where couples go through each other's devices to uncover their deepest secrets, and "Ghosted," where they confront daters who ditched potential mates without a trace.
Murdoch said her company is in talks to bring those properties from Snapchat to television, opening another potential avenue for media to make money from their digital efforts. So far, the bigger trend has been jumping from TV to digital, like NBCU's "The Voice" has done with a Snapchat show. Snapchat does have commercial breaks inside shows and the daily media channels, but it has avoided the dreaded branded content. CEO Evan Spiegel has notoriously said brands are not people's friends.
Earlier this summer, a number of media partners said Snapchat was interested in branded entertainment, and rethinking its own rules. Traditional television players said that Snapchat would have to accept such brand tie-ins if it wants to play in the TV space, because brands are a crucial part of the economics of content.
-- Garett Sloane
We caught up with 360i CEO Sarah Hofstetter for a quick chat on the final day of Advertising Week. We're all tired after this week's events, panels and parties, so our challenge to her was to give as short of answers as possible. See what she had to say below.
Your favorite part of this year's Advertising Week?
Least favorite part of this year's Advertising Week?
The distance between events.
Describe Advertising Week in general.
More time in transit than in events.
Funniest thing that happened this week?
When I went to a women-only event and all the ladies changed from heels to flats.
Best secret quiet spot in the Advertising Week area?
Roosevelt Hotel. Also, best secret public bathroom.
-- Lindsay Stein
A conversation run by women of color on how people and characters who look like them are often portrayed in the media as angry was anything but.
Supportive and encouraging, the panel, "Changing the Narrative: Depiction of African American Women in Advertising and Media," was focused on getting out the message that African-American women in ad and marketing can be a force for positive change.
Moderator Kendra Hatcher King, VP of marketing engagement at SapientRazorfish, reminded the group of the power of persuasion, and how the tools of persuasion can be "used for good" to help shape perceptions.
King presented findings from The University of Missouri School of Journalism study, "From Bad Girls to Housewives: Portrayals of African-American Women in Media." Among the findings, 67 percent of African-American and Caucasian female millennials believe African-American women are depicted negatively in the media, while a mere 13 percent view images of African-American women in the media positively.
When panelists were asked if any of the study's findings were surprising, Lizette Williams, multicultural marketing leader NA, Kimberly-Clark, called it the "water is wet" study, but followed up by saying that many in the industry need to be convinced that water is wet to change the narrative.
As to how to affect change, Charisse L'Pree Corsbie-Massay, assistant professor of communications, Syracuse University, said students need practice discussing complex racial issues in a way that describes the issues and suggests solutions, but in a manner based on facts, data, and why it would make sound business sense to change the approach.
Williams noted that everyone up and down the chain needs to challenge how the work is being done and to rely on deep consumer insights that go beyond stereotypes. She also encouraged attendees to think about what inclusivity means, so that a person who raises an issue as to why certain work won't resonate are listened to.
"Data is your friend in these cases," said King. "If you don't have a fact, then your view can be dismissed as an opinion. You can probably find the expert you need to get the data you need."
Coming out of the study, the consortium has three goals: leverage the results to affect institutional change; explore and advance the cause of media literacy and to help young women develop critical thinking skills to evaluate media images; and create guidelines for advertising and entertainment creators.
-- Ann Marie Kerwin
For brands to win on mobile, Snap's chief strategy officer Imran Khan says you have to create a 3-5 second ad. "It's best way to speak your customer's' language on devices." This was his advice as he pitched Snapchat ahead of a sit-down with Hearst's chief content officer Joanna Coles and HBO CEO Richard Plepler.
Khan took the opportunity to show off its 3-D lens for advertisers (which doesn't exactly render to full effect on this screen):
Snapchat has had what it calls World Lenses for almost a year, lenses that transform the surrounding world; Sony's "Underworld: Blood Wars" has run one. What's new with this iteration is that brands can create their own character to pop into that world. A Snapscot, if you will. (Please don't.)
Bud Light guy, for example, is the brand version of the dancing hot dog that Snapchat unleashed on the world this summer. The animated hot dog became an internet sensation for making cameos in people's videos where he would break dance in the background or anywhere someone pointed the camera. Brands hope they can spark the same internet creativity that got the hot dog played with 2 billion times.
Khan set the stage for a conversation with Plepler moderated by Coles. While Snapchat is pushing for shorter ad units, Coles says she still hears complaints that brands want the 30-second pre-roll.
"If you are creating TV content you probably have to create longer ads," Khan said.
But Coles took issue with that. "Who has time for a 30-second ad?" You can go have sex in that time, she added. (Ed. note: We have not confirmed this yet, but are willing to try.)
When it comes to fostering creativity, Plepler said "culture eats strategy for breakfast." Sounds deep, man, but what does it all mean?
In any event, Plepler doesn't see the success of non-traditional platforms as taking anything away from what HBO does.
"'The Crown' or 'Stranger Things' doesn't diminish Westworld or Game of Thrones," he said.
-- Jeannine Poggi and Garett Sloane
It's day four here at Advertising Week. Just a few more hours to go. Everyone is tired of standing in lines and filing into auditorium seating. No one is smiling. There are grumbles. So it's nice when a friendly usher at PlayStation Theater tries to lighten the mood. "Find love, make friends," he said as he corralled attendees waiting to get into the Town Hall featuring Snap's Imran Khan and HBO's Richard Piepler. Not sure any love was found here, but he did get a few smirks.
-- Jeanine Poggi