Tens of thousands of advertising experts are swarming New York for the ninth annual Advertising Week. Conference rooms, theaters and lounges are packed with industry folks schmoozing, talking the latest trends—and ultimately trying to predict the “next big thing” among an industry in flux.
Kicking off the week, Time hosted a panel discussion with six of the industry’s leading CEOs to talk about the role and influence of technology in reshaping Madison Avenue. Here are four of the hottest topics discussed:
1. Everything you thought about gaming is wrong. The perception that games are just for teenage boys is not only outdated, but it’s also dead wrong. We’ve come a long way from playing only Mortal Combat; it’s now a billion-dollar industry for advertisers. Women make up 55 percent of social gamers, making gaming an ideal way to reach this powerful demographic. Gaming allows for interaction between brands and consumers, provides a call to action, and it creates loyalty. And more important, it’s something consumers can do on their mobile devices (remember, this is the year of mobile). As gyro CEO and chief creative office Christoph Becker pointed out, “We live in a game. It’s not just something we do on our phones or tablets. We play for points for free coffee. It’s not just about the deal consumers get. It’s how they get there.”
2. Privacy matters. As technology becomes more personal and we can find anything and anyone with a few clicks or taps, consumers are rightly concerned about privacy. However, the “do not track” option could destroy the industry, as tracking provides a treasure trove of information for marketers. As one panelist says, “We failed to educate the consumer that providing data is a good thing. It helps us give consumers relevant information to their life.” It’s a wait-and-see game, but the industry needs to start planning for the day the consumer can easily just opt out. Monique Nelson, chairman, CEO, Uniworld Group, emphasized the “need to be prepared as we move more and more toward mobile.” Furthermore, Nelson thinks that any opt-out laws and guidelines should be crafted by the consumer.
3. It’s all about mobile. Yes, every year we say this is the year of mobile—and then it isn’t. But this time we really mean it. Still skeptical? Think about what device you reach for when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. CEOs mused on how the industry needs to find a way to reach consumers on their mobile devices without being intrusive. Greg Stern, CEO, Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners, discussed the use of apps as being a way that consumers can opt in to providing data and brands that can engage users. However, Butler said, “But you need to build an app that users will want to engage with.” Our mobile devices are personal, and consumers need to “invite” brands on that device. It’s a delicate balance and the industry has a way to go in figuring it out.
4. Keep it humanly relevant. When asked how does a brand break through the clutter that consumers are faced with every minute of every day, Becker said, “We need to keep it simple and humanly relevant. Even with all the technology, as humans, we need to feel touched. As advertisers, we need to create content that engages people on a human level.” For all the ways consumers can engage with a brand, they can also disengage with one.