Advertising Week New York 2018: An optimistic industry looks for the path forward

It’s a wrap! The 15th annual Advertising Week event in New York is done and dusted. It’s been a busy week with a lot to take in across the dozens of panels, keynotes, and activations. Quantcast is here to help break down some of the key themes and what they mean for marketers everywhere.

A trust crisis

Hot on the heels of a huge hack of the company’s systems, Facebook’s Carolyn Everson kicked off the week with a one-on-one interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Lara O’Reilly. The wide-ranging conversation highlighted a theme that would shape discussions throughout the week: Are companies being responsible enough in how they collect and use consumer data?

The issue came up again in a panel discussion with Quantcast’s CMO Steven Wolfe Pereira, eBay’s Suzy Deering, T-Mobile’s Nick Drake, Petco’s Tariq Hassan and Dara Treseder of GE Ventures.

Nick pointed out that, with advances in technology and 5G, it will become cost effective for companies to put sensors on more and more products that will be generating a huge amount of new data that has to be managed and processed. With GDPR-like regulations on their way to the U.S., it highlighted the need for companies to decide how much data they really need to collect to operate their businesses, sooner rather than later. Not to mention the legal requirements around understanding and managing consent.

Some publishers are already leading the pack. Speaking on stage with Quantcast’s chief privacy officer Ghita Harris-Newton, Buzzfeed’s director of engineering, Brian Lee, was excited to share that they were seeing consent rates of 98 percent via Quantcast Choice, our free consent management platform.

AI-driven conversation

Data scientists may have been in the minority at the AMC Loews movie theater complex this week, but that didn’t stop AI and machine learning from being hot topics. The industry is becoming gradually more informed when it comes to the applications and opportunities this technology can bring to marketing.

On Monday, Google’s Allan Thygesen and Kristin Lemkau of JPMorgan Chase explained how machine learning can help automate key processes, make sense of huge volumes of data, and optimize the customer journey. The message was clear: Stop marketing to the average, and apply new technologies to create more valuable experiences for individuals.

On Wednesday, Forbes’ Mark Howard picked up on the theme when he explained how the publisher’s in-house “AI-infused” CMP helps reporters by suggesting headlines, image placement and so on in real time as articles are being written. Compared to previous events across the industry calendar, there is a growing number of real examples of the impact that machine learning is having on the sector.

DTC → Amazing customer experiences

One final trend no one could escape at this year’s Ad Week was that of going direct to consumer. It’s no coincidence that the brands who have seen the most growth in the last few years have been those that developed new categories or new customer experiences, based upon real-time understanding of their audiences and what truly makes them tick.

Going direct to consumer (regardless of your channels) to create better customer experiences will be the path to growth. This lesson was very clear in Thursday’s “Direct to Consumer Allstars” panel, where we heard from leading DTC brands Casper, Sweet Defeat, and Bark. These three inspiring brands questioned conventional thinking and created successful lifestyle brands out of what was previously thought of as just a product by developing programs tied to audience insights.
 

Diversity rising

Members of the Quantcast team participated in several sessions at The Female Quotient’s Girls’ Lounge, just across the street from the main event. CMO Steven Wolfe Pereira spoke on a purposefully all-male panel chaired by ABC’s Deborah Roberts. The focus of the debate was how men could be better advocates for and allies to women in the workplace.

That session was followed by a conversation with “Friends” star David Schwimmer, who discussed the #ThatsHarassment video campaign he participated in to drive awareness around this important issue for women in the workplace.

It was inspiring to see packed houses for The Girls’ Lounge discussions. Alternatively, when Ad Week’s AMC theater hosted such diversity-focused conversations, the audiences were often light and mostly women and people of color, highlighting the need for such programming. We hope to see increased interest in those sessions next year.

 ‘Any dipsh*t can sell something once’

One of my favorite quotes of the week came from Bustle’s chief revenue officer Jason Wagenheim, who illustrated the importance of great customer experience to long-term relationships. The discussion put the spotlight on the ongoing relationship between brands, publishers and technology companies and the need for each to work closely together to deliver not just campaigns that work, but experiences so seamless that customers — brands, in this instance — want to buy again and again.

Wagenheim illustrated the point with data: While Bustle may have responded to 15 percent fewer RFPs in the past year, its close rate was up more than 50 percent. Just goes to show that the old piece of advice to do fewer things better holds true. One core tool allowing them to develop better proposals: Q for Publishers. Another key driver behind their success? Restaurant training. The Bustle team hired a restaurant owner to teach the team everything about offering a seamless experience that will keep customers coming back for more. Genius.

A big thanks to all of Quantcast’s clients and partners that joined us during the event. See you there next year!