Cannes Lions has roared. Led the hunt through the cabana wilderness. Lapped up rosé slushies. Wreaked destruction at the Gutter Bar. And rolled over for another year. But although it’s been sleeping in the sun for a week already, there are still lessons to be learned from this powerful beast.
1. The ecosystem needs a cleanup.
P&G’s Marc Pritchard and NYT CEO Mark Thompson did not mince words calling for an end to the “sketchy middlemen” who cloud the digital supply chain. Thompson and Vox’s CEO Jim Bankoff encouraged the industry to nurture the customer relationship forest rather than make a buck cutting down some quick placement trees–they specifically advocated for greater accuracy, transparency, and more value placed on context when evaluating a consumer’s experience of an ad (a concern many of today’s safety-obsessed brands share).
Similarly, Keith Weed’s annual talk about what’s keeping him up at night focused on viewability, measurement, and third-party verification.
“We have one budget at the end of the day and one consumer, or viewer, or whatever – and we need to have one measurement system,” said Weed. “The good guys will win in this situation because the dollars will follow the best advertising platforms.”
2. The CMO role keeps evolving.
These days, mad skills are a must have. CMOs need creative expertise and analytical know how; right-brain breakthroughs and left-brain resolutions. Kristin Lemkau, CMO of JP Morgan Chase, summed it up best in a discussion during Lions Innovation.
“Now you have to know your tech stack up and down. You have to be a media planner. You have to be a media buyer. You have to be a judge of multiple versions of creative,” says Lemkau, who took over Chase’s CMO reins in 2014. “It just becomes a lot harder for marketers and the industry to stay up to speed.”
Susan Johnson, CMO of SunTrust, echoed Lemkau’s nod to skill diversification. “Chief Growth Officer is the better title for today’s CMO,” she said.
3. Dial up your data know-how.
It’s easy to drown in the data: just ask Ernst & Young Global Brand & Marketing Leader, John Rudiazky.
“Not enough people know how to look at it,” he noted in discussions at Cannes. “Do we truly understand what data can provide? Often the answer is no.”
Kristin Lemkau advised attendees to “leave data to the data companies” but also urged marketers to get educated and strategic with the asset.
“If you don’t understand what you’re measuring for,” Lemkau warned, “You lose.”
CMOs did envision data positively impacting the creative process. Many expressed hope that automation will enable more creativity, not less, by freeing up resources on the creative end.
4. Purpose-driven marketing is more purposeful than ever.
Marketers are fine-tuning their authenticity. For the tactic to resonate, brands have to really live it. Geraldine Calpin, CMO of Hilton Worldwide, noted serious purpose-driven marketing requires seriously hard work—not just slogans. It takes thought, time and money. And to have real success and genuine impact, it requires internal focus first (spreading the idea across the company) before taking it to the streets.
5. There’s life beyond search and social.
A broad consensus bubbled up from beneath the rosé: the duopoly offers essential opportunities, but marketing plans could benefit from a few more. The Cannes hive mind iterated on dark horses bringing new possibilities and considered the behavior-driven opportunities for performance branding and DR that exist on the open web.
6. We need to break out of our bubbles.
Platforms and publishers discussed the problem of ever-narrowing content feeds and acknowledged their responsibility to produce and serve more diverse content. For example, Facebook announced the rollout of a product designed to bring diverse POVs together in groups, and Spotify pointed to its Discover service which uses machine learning to expose users to new music–rather than serving them more of the same.
In an interview with the New York Times, Spotify’s CMO Seth Farbman spelled out the value in such efforts: algorithm-driven personalization streams “…distill you to your smallest self. If we’re leading people into discovering ‘new,’ and being comfortable with the unfamiliar, aren’t we training people to be far more accepting and far more open?”
7. Brands must align their audiences and marketing goals.
How likely is it your ads are optimally reaching all of your customers? Cannes attendees weighed in on this essential topic in panels, presentations, and informal pub-side pow-wows–exploring how live data can unlock new and unexpected opportunities, and discussing the most effective ways to make sure brands get what they pay for–i.e., measuring actual reach.
“Goals are the incentives, and incentives drive behavior,” explained Konrad Feldman, CEO at Quantcast. “If you have a North Star, then you are in the position to evaluate all your marketing and advertising activities to ensure they align. You start to run into problems when you have conflicting goals or lack of clarity on them.”