Advertising Week: 7 Top Trends That Emerged This Year

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We kicked off this year’s Advertising Week at the Nasdaq MarketSite, watching Adaptly co-founder and CEO Nikhil Sethi talk search and social with our friends at Nasdaq, Splash, and Sprinklr. It was the first of many we attended over the week, and as we traveled from session to session across Times Square, a few key trends emerged. Here are the top 7 things we gleaned from this year’s lineup:

Social Ads Require Social Assets

The multitude of ever-evolving social ad formats has created a new burden for marketers: understanding how to design creative that works across all channels. Advertisers have to think about video length, video orientation, user behavior, and countless other factors when designing creative, and that can be cost-prohibitive. Many brands still take TV or display assets and stick them on social, but social advertising has evolved to a place where hand-me-down assets no longer cut it. Horizontal video and 60 second spots don’t resonate on social the way they do on TV. To be truly successful on social, your brand has to produce creative with social ad formats in mind. If you don’t have the budget or bandwidth to do that, ask how Adaptly’s Creative Lab can help reformat existing ad creative to thrive on social.

Social Storytelling Deserves a Fresh Take

Storytelling is another area advertisers have been trying and failing to repurpose for social. The best advertising campaigns tell a compelling story and play on consumers’ emotions. Constructing a narrative arc that fits into 30 or 60 seconds on TV looks completely different than constructing a narrative arc that fits into 15 or even 6 seconds. It’s when brands try to cut longer TV spots into snackable social clips that they get themselves into trouble. Instead of butchering longer ads, brands need to take a fresh approach to social spots. The best way to communicate a message in a few seconds is to set a framework for consumers to interpret on their own. Taking the essence of the 30 second spot and giving users enough of it to tell their own stories will resonate better than splicing together existing clips.

Vertical Video Is Here to Stay

We’re used to looking at the world horizontally, but shifting that perspective on mobile is not only intuitive, it’s a no-brainer. Users hold their smartphones vertically 94% of the time, so content that takes up the whole screen only garners more attention. As more social platforms come to prioritize vertical formats, the medium is evolving from a cool nice-to-have to a must-have. We can expect to see brands doubling down on vertical video in the coming months as it cements itself as the go-to social video format.

Brand Authenticity Is More Important Than Ever

Social has added another layer of complexity to the relationship between brands and consumers. There are several channels through which brands can engage with consumers, and each touchpoint presents a potential opportunity for the brand identity to slip. User behavior differs platform by platform, and while brands should tailor the types of content they share by platform, brand identity and authenticity must remain intact at all times. Advertising is all about brands forming relationships with customers that keep them coming back for more, and staying true to one consistent brand identity is key to resonating with consumers.

Brand Identity Extends to Influencers

An area where brand identity is in danger of taking a backseat is in partnering with celebrities and social influencers. Influencers have their own brands to stay true to and their own audiences to cater to, so the best brand-influencer partnerships are born when both parties share genuine common interests. Just because a certain celebrity is popular on social doesn’t mean that they make sense for your brand and your audience. The larger the following an influencer has, the more freedom they have to be picky about who they partner with, so partnering with established influencers will help ensure that they actually align with your brand and aren’t just eager for the sponsorship dollars.

Business Is Personal

Having a social presence inevitably makes brands more approachable. Users expect wit and relatability from even the stuffiest industries, and brands have been happy to loosen their ties and oblige. Social platforms have become an environment where consumers go to engage with brands in order to share their interests and grievances, and in return they expect to get more out of their favorite brands. Live video formats make it easy for brands to share behind-the-scenes footage and humanizing clips, rewarding their followers for being loyal customers. And the best part is that users actually want to see that kind of content from businesses.

The Customer Is King

Thanks to social media, customers today are better informed and have higher standards than ever before. They are constantly rewarded by brands, whether through loyalty programs or free shipping, and have come to feel entitled in their brand relationships. Companies have to do more than just satisfy consumers’ needs for products–they have to benefit society, operate sustainably, and conform to customer values. And brands have no choice but to cater to this demanding age of consumerism because through social, every single customer is a brand ambassador or influencer.

For more insights from Advertising Week and a look into the sessions we didn’t make it to, check out the hashtag #AWNewYork.