Advertising Week NYC 2016

Last week, Advertising Week celebrated its 13th Annual gathering in New York City. With over 250 sessions held across nine different venues, it’s safe to say that plenty of different conversations developed throughout the week. Nonetheless, a general sentiment for change was consistent across seminars and workshops… A change that the industry should take in order to grasp what’s needed now, not in the future.

The theme of change was highlighted mainly when it came to the following topics:


Technology is opening the doors for more and more media channels to become digital. In the session “Technology vs Strategy: Who’s Steering the Future?”, Rich Raddon (Co-Founder, ZEFR) said “technology needs to be part of every brand… it empowers it, it super charges it”. Strategic technology decisions are making businesses more competitive and in IBM’s session “Digital Transformation in the Cognitive Era”, Bob Lord (Chief Digital Officer, IBM) explains how his company contributes to this shift, mainly by applying Watson to campaign planning and execution.

Machine learning will get better and better… But it’s important to recognize that agencies and marketers need to go beyond machine capabilities and add a layer of creativity, aiming at closing the gap between the digital and physical world. AR and VR are definitely helping to bridge these two worlds, and beyond this, location technology is raising the bar, transforming smart cities into connected cities.


In the session “The Great Debate: Agencies vs Consultancies”, Mark Barrett (President, Heat) said “the language of business is data and CMOs are increasingly speaking this language”. With all the emergent technologies and access to data, our industry needs to guide brands through what specifically can be measured, its value and how it drives a positive impact for their business. As a result, there’s a need to invest in metrics that measure performance across devices in a more connected way… in the way that it impacts consumers.

We all need to be aware of the fact that not all big data is good data; context is what matters most when connecting with consumers. In the session “Media Meets Creativity (Again, Always, & Forever): The Value of Getting Closer”, Jim Mollica (VP of Digital, Under Armour) points out that we all need to know the difference between data vs insights you can build an idea off of. Data is digested to get insights from which strategy is developed; there is no longer a need for long research processes. But be aware… insights are debatable; be ready to test and repeat. Even if you have access to all the data in the world, it doesn’t mean you’ll get the results you are looking for on your first try.

Organizational Shifts

With technology and data shaping the world we live in, organizations need to structure themselves in a way that embraces these digital foundations; this is required across the board (creative agencies, media agencies, brands, consultancies, publishers, media owners and partner/vendor teams).

During Droga5’s “Media Meets Creativity” session, Lindsay Nelson (Global Head of Brand Strategy and Marketing, VOX Media) alleges that the current structure is designed to fail; we talk about what should be done, but we are still not adequately integrated… Why? She says “follow the money”; see who is incentivized and how, and you’ll understand why most of these structures are not as flexible as they should be.

The number of times the terms “working in silos” and “lack of transparency” was mentioned throughout the week was astonishing. Put this into perspective… When it comes to technology, trust needs to be handed to the specialists. When it comes to data, if we don’t collaborate, it will sit unused.

It is “the end of marketing as we know it”, said Marie Gulin-Merle (CMO L’Oreal USA) in the session “Building Connected Stories”. She assures we are moving towards “designing experiences”; these experiences are designed by strategically adding layers of content, data and services along the consumer journey. Let’s not forget what our consumers want, it’s still all about them. The brands that are using technology and data to collaboratively identify and engage with consumers in key touch points are winning the game.

So why wait for the future? Let’s make our industry better… now. This was the big takeaway from Advertising Week 2016.