5 Important Things I Learned at NY Advertising Week

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Aside from the opportunity to see high-profile musicians at the after parties, one of the biggest draws of New York’s Advertising Week is the chance to learn from the best and brightest of the ad industry. Here is what they taught me this year:

  1. Ad blocking is becoming a bigger issue:  Ad blocking was a hot topic across a number of seminars throughout Advertising Week.  It’s quite clear that consumers don’t want a disruptive advertising experience on their mobile devices and marketers/marketing partners need to actually solve that problem instead of simply finding ways to get around ad blocking. Millennials in particular are actively avoiding being marketed to and demanding authenticity from brands. There are huge opportunities for advertisers to use to their advantage platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, where users seem not to be actively avoiding/blocking ads. Each of these platforms have unique ecosystems but none are based on cookie targeting (which has its limitations) and all have ads that are native, i.e., seamless, to the user experience.
  2. Personalization (at scale): For brands to stand out and connect with consumers, they need to personalize their marketing messages.  Marketers have been personalizing communications for years in more traditional channels like email, but how do we scale these efforts in emerging channels?  Heavy reliance on cookie data impacts targeting efficiency, and we need to find more accurate ways of reaching the right people with relevant messaging.  ‘Blasting’ out the same message to the masses is no longer as effective as it used to be: what entices one customer may not even register for another.  The same rules regarding personalization and relevancy apply to messages served on mobile devices, where audiences spend more than half their time consuming digital media (51% vs. 42% on desktop/laptop). Mobile offers powerful branding opportunities, so advertisers need to seek ways to utilize the power of the device to deliver relevant content. If they don’t, they’ll lose out to competitors.
  3. Fragmentation is increasing, quickly:  We know user behavior is evolving, but it’s happening rapidly, and marketers need to adapt in order to keep up with the pace of change.  Consumers have multiple touchpoints with brands throughout the day and users are exhibiting more individualized behavior, which poses a challenge for marketers.  Consumers don’t operate in buckets—mobile, video, display, etc.—so we need to stop planning in silos and focus more on coordinated, cross platform campaigns. Marketing campaigns require both internal and external integration.
  4. It’s not just about millennials:  The multicultural audience is the biggest, fastest-growing demographic in the US.  According to an SMG study, more than half of the U.S. population will be multicultural by 2060. These audiences are more mobile, and they’re looking for content that culturally relates to them. Facebook is one platform that has created Hispanic affinity target audiences, enabling advertisers to reach 27 million Hispanics, and other targeting capabilities to reach 20 million African Americans and 6.6 million Asian Americans.
  5. It’s always about business outcomes:  As platforms and technology become more sophisticated, our ability to gain not only data but also learnings to inform media buying decisions becomes greater.  And it becomes even more necessary to develop consistent, industry-wide metrics for measurement.  Case in point: Facebook recently announced a new purchasing product called ‘TRP Buying’ that’s related to target-rating points. With TRB Buying, Nielsen will verify how well an advertiser’s video ads perform on Facebook coupled with TV commercials. This capability, which will allow marketers to make optimizations throughout a campaign, goes to show that at the end of the day, it’s all about delivering strong business outputs.