People are changing faster than brands can keep up. We’re adopting new products, technologies and platforms at a pace never before seen in the history of advertising. In this dynamic world, it’s clear that the old ways of marketing and media no longer cut it.
And this is why the Cannes Lions Festival is so important. Although the week has become many different things to many people, it ultimately provides us with a forum to connect as a global advertising community and be inspired through creativity & innovation.
I first touched down at the Cannes Lions in 2005. Back then I was known as one of the “Young Media”. Now eleven years later, I’ve just come back from my second visit. As my older self, it was definitely a much different experience, but at the same time reinforced the importance of staying “young” at heart. More than ever we need to be relevant and keep up with change.
Just a few short years ago, we would have never believed that the Palais would be plastered in yellow, with a white ghost. Or that there would be the ad tech yacht row and the likes of Deloitte, Oracle and Accenture at the Festival of Creativity. Or that we’d be watching people strap on headsets to be transported into virtual experiences. Or that live streaming and 360 video would be so prevalent. Who would have guessed that augmented reality would be in the midst of a resurgence through purpose-driven activations around the world? Bryn Mooser, co-founder of HuffPost RYOT (AOL’s newly acquired company that specializes in immersive content creation), proved this out through some powerful cases: from using AR to create Hologram protests and gender neutral washroom signs, to transforming ISIS flags into gay pride rainbow flags.
What has become very evident to me is that people need to be at the centre of everything we do. This requires a shift from traditional media connections to more human connections. In Cannes, this theme came through time and time again. At UM, it was important that we got together as a team to gain insight into the great work. Our Behind the Scenes Look at Cannes session led me to a couple of realizations.
First was that there was more rewarding of great brand work than ever. However, there was not as much coming from Canada – where submissions often fell into the trap of using tech and data just for the sake of using it, with no clear insight or strategic link to the brand. It seems we’ve been stricken with a case of “AdTechitis” in North America. As we heard in The Art of Curation session at the Palais earlier on in the week, there’s no algorithm for cool, insightful or beautiful. Art is about humanity. Unfortunately, as technology underpins how we experience the world, we’ve been shifting to quantity over quality.
But there’s hope. I’m an optimist. The 2nd realization was that data, technology and algorithms are best used in service of individuals. To enable greater storytelling that can influence more people, in turn causing change.
That might sound lofty, but in seeing the work there are many proof points that this can be our reality in Canada if brands and agencies put people at the centre of everything we do. A shining example of that is UM’s award winning “Pay with Blood” campaign in Romania. Launched through Facebook, people were offered a free ticket (in the form of a tourniquet wristband) to the summer’s largest music festival in Transylvania, in exchange for a blood donation. For the first time, young people starting donating blood – at a 10x increase vs. the previous average, helping to change mentality and stem the country’s blood bank crisis. Another winning campaign out of Australia called, “You’re Accepted,” used the Facebook platform to allow LGBT youth to anonymously ask their friends if they would support them coming out. Friends could reply back directly with positive messages, finding out how many of their friends would support them coming out.
As we look to create the connective tissue between data as an industry, this past week has reminded me how critical it is to not lose sight of using data & technology to create more dynamic, meaningful experiences.
Over the next year and beyond, let’s commit to not losing the craft. Yes, the brave new frontier of storytelling will be enabled by data. But data & tech needs to lead to simple, powerful insights in the service of creating immersive human experiences – it can’t just be about using new platforms in isolation from a brand’s strategy.
Matt Ramella is VP, Digital at UM Canada
As one year closes and another one begins to rev up, MiC is asking industry leaders to look back on the events that changed their business in 2014 and predict the trends that will shape it in 2015.
A slightly modified version of this post was published on Media in Canada
The continued shift of Canadians going smart and mobile is having the biggest impact on our business. We’ve now become a “notification nation,” where we’re much more reliant on our feeds to discover and consume content. This is beginning to noticeably impact consumer behaviour, attention and where people spend time.
Combined with increased penetration of video watching via OTT platforms, streaming services and mobile feeds, 2014 brought the early stages of significant disruption. Read More
I’m winding down my first visit to CES with a singular thought in my head – upgrade! I couldn’t agree more that we’re living in the Age of the Upgrade, where what we already own is going to be replaced by “a more awesome version of the same thing.” If we’re living in this Age of the Upgrade, then CES is the embodiment of our new normal.
Whether we’re driving in a connected car, wearing vibrating underwear, creating our food with 3D printers, or reading snippets of news on our curved smartphones, the physical goods and services that we use daily are being re-imagined thanks to advances in technology.
Between the sensory overload that is the CES floor and attending our engaging IPG Mediabrands/AdAge speaker sessions, a key theme began to emerge – simple and intelligent experiences. Read More
I love creativity, design and storytelling. I also love data, software and reporting. With my right brain fighting with my left brain for dominance, you can understand how I can sometimes become torn.
In high school, my favourite course was drafting where I was able to blend math, software and design in AutoCAD. At graduation, I took home the “Art Award,” so naturally my next step was to enroll in 1st year engineering at the University of Toronto. At the time, math vs. art was an either-or scenario when it came to my post secondary education. And hey, why wouldn’t I go down the path that paid better?
Looking back, I’m grateful that engineering didn’t work out and that I found my calling in the field of Media Communications. It turns out that media and marketing is the perfect hybrid of creativity and numbers. You see, I didn’t have to pick sides after all.
Now almost 15 years later, I find myself on the edge of my seat when coming across all of the creative ways technology and social media are being used to tell data-driven stories – right up my alley! Read More
This week, Facebook launched a limited beta release of Graph Search, an improvement to Facebook’s search tool. The social network touts it as a new way to search, enabling people to find information through the filter of their friends and the things they care about. If you haven’t done so already, go to facebook.com/graphsearch to get on the waitlist.
Once you get access to the beta release, you’ll be able to start searching a subset of Facebook social graph content, across four main areas — people, photos, places, and interests. Interests include TV-related queries such as: “tv shows my friends like,” “friends who live in Chicago and like Shameless,” or “people who like The Bachelor and live nearby.”
It’s important to highlight that Facebook’s vision for search is quite different from Google. A web search takes a keyword or phrase and gives you back a series of links that might be what you’re looking for. While Facebook Graph Search will strive to display a more relevant, personalized answer culled from what your friends, and their friends, have shared on Facebook.
Steven Levy at Wired writes, “The result is surprisingly compelling. The mark of a transformative product is that it gets you to do more of something that you wouldn’t think to do on your own. Thanks to Graph Search, people will almost certainly use Facebook in entirely new ways.”
But will people end up using Facebook to search and discover new TV content that their friends are watching? And will Graph Search aid broadcasters in their goal of driving more awareness and tune-in?
It certainly might in the future, but not yet. It’s very early days and the first release is limited in what it can do. The good news is that Facebook is committed to making search a key pillar of the platform moving forward. And that will result in the social network becoming a more valuable social TV companion for consumers, which in turn will build a much richer data set for networks and advertisers. However, before that happens…
Here are 5 things that Facebook needs to add to Graph Search in order to make it a more powerful social TV recommendation engine: Read More