This is the 11th iteration. The event has grown exponentially since its inception, which was attended by 1,200 or ~1% of today’s count. Just as drastic as the change in attendance is the shift in the focus of the talks and seminars, evolving alongside the tumultuous marketing world. While in 2004 Advertising Week primarily celebrated “works” (ads), today it revolves around digital themes and the technologies that are transforming the industry, from mobile marketing and data mining to new brand storytelling strategies. ZenithOptimedia predicts that this year, for the first time, Internet advertising will exceed the combined share spent on newspapers and magazines. With the advent of new applications, data capabilities, and marketing solutions comes a slew of workshops and speaking events centered on this constantly changing frontier and its effect on core marketing pillars.
Here we highlight 5 Advertising Week hot topics in 2014: programmatic ad buying, mobile, native, digital storytelling and video.
Underlining it as a premier topic is the fact that there are around 20 panels on programmatic ads at Advertising Week this year. Programmatic buying is when automated software systems are used to buy and book ads. It empowers marketers to reach their audience in a very direct and catered way without traditional go-betweens. Marketers are given more control to set parameters, specify audience, and measure campaign effectiveness across channels.
Magna Global, a research and ad-buying unit of Interpublic Group of Cos., estimates that digital-ad spending around the world done through programmatic channels will increase 52% this year to $21 billion. Programmatic buying is especially new to TV advertising. The panel “Programmatic TV, Advertising’s Next Great Frontier” offers a prediction that programmatic will account for up to 5% of TV buying in 2015, up from 1% today. The seeds of programmatic buying for video have also been planted.
Counterpointing its marketing potential—it is viewed by some as the biggest current growth opportunity for brands— panels at AdWeek also address the “dark-side” – effects of programmatic buying, such as ad fraud.
18 sessions featured mobile. Mobile usage now comprises 60% of digital media consumption. It is believed by many to be the future of the Internet. A social TV study with Nielsen finds that 84% of mobile consumers supplement TV watching with a second screen. Even when interacting with other media, mobile continues to grab and hold consumer attention. It intricately links social media and TV advertising. Mobile is a key part of a broad marketing strategy, offering more responsive and a larger amount of touchpoints between brands with consumers as people increasingly use mobile, tablets, and even wearables.
Despite the allure of capturing attention through mobile channel, it has continued challenge for marketers to unlock that potential, leading to panels on strategy and marketing tactics. Some companies such as Heineken have launched successful mobile marketing pushes– Heineken lifted brand awareness 29%—and shared their insights at Advertising Week.
Native advertising is advertising that seamlessly integrates brand-sponsored material into social platforms (Facebook, Instagram, etc.). It has been prevalent in the marketing world in recent years due its higher success rate compared to other digital advertisment methods, such as banner ads. Panels at Ad Week focused on how to implement a successful native strategy and what factors have proven to separate the winners from the losers. The need for the creation and curation of meaningful content segways into the next highly-vocalized phrase: storytelling.
Digital Storytelling goes hand-in-hand with native- it is one of the key differentiators of a successful native strategy. With new and changing ways to interact with consumers, the struggle (and opportunity) to create conversation and connection is heightened. Events such as Tuesday’s “NBC Universal Leadership Breakfast: Social Media & Storytelling” explore this phenomenon. Audiences interact with premium content differently than ever before and the need to engage and complete the story-telling cycle with an active listener who feels they get value from the interaction. Companies such as GE, Marriott and Conde Nast say their piece on digital storytelling, discussing ways they craft powerful messages, emphasize underlying value systems, and test and optimize channels and content to present something cohesive and engaging.
Time spent watching digital video has more than doubled since 2012. Ad Week sessions address programmatic buying of video and the best new and old practices of creating branded video content and integrating advertisements. It is seen as an area of high potential to create more immersive brand experience and connect with consumers in new ways. For instance, today, Thursday, topics such as these will be explored at the session titled “Advertising’s Gold Rush: Online Video.”
Ad Week’s events span the spectrum of marketing and communications, fostering conversation around new and old topics. These are 5 common threads woven through many events, reflecting their status as recognized game-changers and identifying them as areas where marketers should focus their energies to get ahead in an industry constantly in flux.