Ad Week Europe 2017: Remembering the big picture
By Rachel Taylor, Strategic Manager at Posterscope
I was lucky enough to spend time at this year’s Advertising Week Europe to listen to all of the fantastic speakers debating the key questions for our industry. The core contemporary pillars were well covered; programmatic, content, mobile and agency structures stood out as key themes. However, there also seemed to be a growing focus on wider socio-cultural events, such as Brexit or Trump’s election, which sit outside our industry but still impact our decisions.
Whatever form Brexit takes, it will have implications for both client marketing budgets, be that positive or negative, and for consumer attitudes and spending power. Consequentially, there are still debates and big questions for the advertising industry to be involved in. Thursday’s ‘Open Minds, Open Boarders’ debate aptly highlighted the issue of junior creative talent and the need to maintain diversity if we are to grow London’s creative community. However, I feel one of the most interesting underlying conclusions of this talk was that the implications of Brexit on the industry are all still uncertain and there is nothing we can stick our teeth into until the dust begins to settle.
A strong theme this year was the role of emotion in technology and data as well as remembering the human element at the centre of advertising campaigns. Ravleen Beeston of Microsoft looked at technology’s empathetic potential, demonstrating chat bots which can anticipate and mitigate potentially fractious moments such as splitting a drinks bill. Interestingly however, the debate around these kinds of innovations kept returning to the warning that we should not allow ourselves to fall into a bubble and design campaigns around technology consumers aren’t ready for.
Indeed, the ‘Future of Tech and The Millennial Consumer’ stage profiled businesses which were all firmly rooted in their audience understanding, be that to alleviate the struggling care industry or redesigning dating for queer women. In the case of Grabble, the business completely pivoted based on the new audience understanding that their audience wanted more boutique labels and they needed to appeals to a consumer with more disposable income than their original student target. A great example of audience truths designing the product rather than fitting an audience to the platform.
Certainly, the advertising industry now places great focus on ensuring messaging is rooted in audience understanding but this was a good reminder that the same is true for innovation. While some technologies may have become commonplace in media land, we should not get ahead of ourselves and always root design in the human experience.
In as much as we should be remembering the wider world experience effects our consumers, the broader world picture also effects our relationship with our clients. While we are good at watching the competitor environment and market forces which will be shaping client pressures, Rory Sutherland made a fantastic point when he argued we are limiting ourselves when we only speak to our clients about MarComs. That is certainly where our specialism lies but the power of our data and strategic thinking can stretch must further, answering at least wider marketing questions.
Indeed, Posterscope have started pushing beyond the bounds of OOH media to employ our location expertise in wider location analysis projects powered by our award winning ECOS platform. This allows us to explore a range of wider client challenges, be that the location understanding powering a wider communications brief or broad location mapping of audiences by behaviour to help clients really understand what is really happening on the ground. Similarly, MKTG have pushed beyond experiential with their Smart Bench roll out, demonstrating that we can also be part of the smart city revolution and shape the future design of the cities we live in.
It’s an exciting time to be in the industry. There is a wealth of potential for us to apply our audience data to business intelligence and we should be thinking big in order to make the most of it. But if we are to turn this potential into success two watch outs stand out: don’t go too big for the humans we are speaking too and don’t sell ourselves too small to clients who will then look to someone else.