It's popular to think that advertising industry is still stuck in the old ways of communication. The dynamic world of organic media being an uncharted territory, foreign and feared.
But when I looked back at my six days of judging over 3,000 Cannes media entries from all around the world this year, I discovered the inconceivable. My view about the advertising industry has shifted, for the better. It's less cynical and more optimistic.
It's easy to attribute this change to the sunny Cannes climate and unlimited quantities of rosé. But something else's at play here.
The entries that we, the media jury of 2015, reviewed were more often aligned with the non-traditional advertising than not. We saw a range of work from branded and digital content, social and mobile media activations across channels, consumer-centric solutions and data-driven marketing.
This is new. Most of these ideas didn't exist five years ago at the festival circuit. Social media or digital were the exceptions, rather than the rule. Today, these executions are a fundamental ingredient and the baseline for any integrated campaign.
In this new playing field, what distinguishes amazing work from just good?
It's not enough to have media activation that ticks the box across all possible touch points with consumers. The most compelling and successful campaigns achieve both creativity and brand results, while employing strategies within the five areas outlined below:
The most effective work occurs when a brand thoughtfully, fully aligns with a cause through shared media that drives societal change and business results. This is in contrast to the brands that jump to attach themselves to good causes in order to get extra exposure and positive association. A paid sponsorship or one-off stunt or event is not enough to create meaningful connections with consumers and communities. To build a meaningful brand, there needs to be a long-term and sustainable commitment on behalf of the corporation or business.
Why should brands pay millions of dollars for 30 seconds on TV when they can reach an even broader audience by harnessing the power of social media and trending hashtags? For the Super Bowl this year, we saw brands such as Volvo succeed in capturing attention of consumers by piggybacking off the activities and media investments of other brands. Going forward, we can expect to see more brands trying these alternative approaches to be a part of live culture. As long as brands stays true to their core values, it's a great way for them to be more efficient with their spending, make the most of their own communications channels and fuel earned media.
We are finally starting to see the smart use of data mining and programmatic media to deliver more personalized messaging and improved experiences. The best campaigns blend data with creativity to make media more relevant, targeted and effective for end users. For example, Post-it Notes retargeted consumers with customizable banners in the format of post-it sticky notes. Users could transform the pop-up banners into personal notes so when they reappeared on websites, they were unique to the individual. We will see this area evolve beyond online media, and include more of addressable TV, mobile apps, product customization and content curation.
We are moving towards a world where virtual and physical worlds blend. However, way too often the attempt to achieve a harmonious union between these two worlds fail, and the focus becomes about showcasing technology for technology's sake. Embedding sensors or tags into a print ad to create a simulation of a tablet ad is not necessarily innovative (and certainly is much more expensive). The best work is able to blend technology, media and content in a way that creates an easily accessible, live brand experience. As our creative assets expand to include VR headsets, holograms, wearable technologies, drones and more, we must make sure to use strategy and simple ideas to solve real problems through innovation, and not just create gimmicky one-offs.
As the Internet of Things becomes more of a reality, everything around us -- objects, people and places -- will gain an internet connection. We will increasingly see media formats such as interactive video, in-store product displays and out-of-home digital signs embedded with commerce functions. Through the use of near-field communication, Beacon technologies, Bluetooth, QR codes, mobile apps, and e-commerce, all media can and will be linked to transaction, and more importantly to results.