Advertising Week 2015: Dispatch from NYC



The quick takeaway from our first full day at Advertising Week 2015: It’s a consumer’s world. Brands just live in it. Go ahead – jump on Twitter and follow the #AWXII hashtag and see for yourself just how focused every brand, tech guru and marketing maven is on the individual consumer.  Once you wade through the murk of typical conference buzzwords and marketing platitudes like “data is the new currency”,  you’ll notice the consumer-focused theme is everywhere.

Whether you’re buying programmatic advertising for a Fortune 100 brand or just trying to get someone to buy a cup of coffee at one of your local establishments, the individual consumer is your primary target. Focusing on consumer behavior and consumer experience isn’t groundbreaking in 2015, but what’s most fascinating about Advertising Week this year is how much brands and marketers are investing to have a direct, one-on-one conversation with you and your wallet.

The New Consumer Zeitgeist

The first session of the day set the tone for the consumer-heavy theme. Rob Griffin, EVP at Havas Media, was joined by a few other panelists to talk about the data surrounding the way consumers are moving through the purchase funnel at a local level. We were very interested in this session simply because we’ve been preaching the idea that Everything Is Local for quite some time. But Rob also shared some insight around the notion that marketers need to think of the consumer journey in three general ways as they relate to search specifically:

1. Discovery: Searching for something near me or of interest to me

2. Immersion: Completely immersing myself in the content I find of interest or of assistance based on my search or searches

3. Navigation: Exactly how I find where to go, what to do, what to buy, etc. This is the decision-making phase, if you will

Rob also noted that 64% of searches now take place outside of search engines like Google. Rather than looking for a favorite product on a search engine, consumers are increasingly searching on sites like Amazon or even Amazon’s mobile app. In essence, the old walled garden of search is shifting, and marketers need to think about providing useful info and content to consumers using a variety of channels and platforms in a local environment that caters to their needs and, for that matter, user queries.

When it comes to localized queries themselves, particularly on mobile, “near me” searches continue to grow exponentially, informing marketers that mobile searchers are more likely looking for something they need immediately. This was not lost on Dunkin’ Donuts at Advertising Week this year. While walking to one of the conference venues, we searched for “coffee near me” and were served with a Dunkin’ ad on Google Maps that took us to a unique landing page offering not only directions to the nearest location, but line wait times for a cup of coffee:


That is how you connect customer intent with brand value, and it’s no wonder this campaign is generating a lot of buzz here this week.

Bonus anecdote for those wrapped up in the current beacon technology craze: don’t send us a push ad using a beacon. We’ve already found your location, so give us a more valuable user experience. If anything, the intrusive push ad is going to push us right out the door without buying.

Micro Moments, Content and the New Age of Media Buying

We also caught a few different sessions that focused on how the consumer experience has been drastically altered by the rise of mobile technology, and the resulting adjustments marketers have made to connect with their target audiences in a more meaningful and valuable way. There are a lot of interested parties in this process, so it was great to get perspective from those vested in technology, those vested in creative production and those at the front lines of media buying on a global level.


Google’s Margo Georgiadis led a panel, including Netflix CMO Kelly Bennett  and Starcom USA CEO Lisa Donahue, that discussed the idea of consumer “micro moments” and the implications they have for marketers. Google has been talking about micro moments for some time, a topic we covered in our Digital Shoptalk video podcast a while back.

However, Ms. Georgiadis revealed recent data gathered from Google’s partnership with Luth Research that mapped the micro moments for one individual woman during a two-month window at peak holiday shopping season. The resulting data set included 18,701 micro moments, which Georgiadis qualified as searches, mobiles searches, calls to action, application data, display impressions and much more – for one person.

The implications are obvious; those actions represent thousands of opportunities for marketers to connect with just a single person. Connecting on that level with consumers at scale? That’s the Holy Grail. The key is to understand, as Georgiadis pointed out, that consumers are sharing intent in these micro moments and that the responsibility is on marketers to deliver relevancy. A lot of dollars are wasted in marketing because they fail to achieve this very principle and lose consumers at the very top of the funnel.

So how do we deliver relevancy in a micro moment? Programmatic buying is the buzzword of choice when asked this question, but as many panelists and speakers throughout the day have noted, programmatic is not simply a tool or tactic that does your marketing for you. You don’t flip a switch on a programmatic campaign and solve all of your problems.

“Marketers need to ground themselves in a rock-solid strategy,” said Ms. Donahue, and approach marketing from a standpoint that leverages data to inform planning, which leads to the creation of the overall strategy, and ultimately ensures that everything is measured properly so that the resulting data offers actionable insights. Leveraging the right consumer data points to provide value and a quality consumer experience is what will keep you ahead of your competition.

However, measurement isn’t always easy, and different approaches to attribution modeling are not only everywhere, they’re also still in their infancy. It was noted earlier in the day by NBC Universal Chairman Linda Yaccarino that 20-30% of online audiences go unmeasured. She even went so far as to say the advertising industry is actually currently experiencing a “crisis in measurement”.

We’re overwhelming ourselves with too much insignificant data and not focusing enough on how to close the gaps in unmeasured audiences. As Netflix’s Mr. Bennett added, all of these micro moments present an extremely complex model of consumer behavior, and it’s going to require both diligence and patience to digest the data to produce something meaningful for both the brand and the consumer.

So What Did We Learn Today?

The takeaway here is that brands and marketers are spending a lot of time, energy and money in 2015 and beyond to gain as much insight as they can into the individual consumer experience – particularly in a localized, mobile environment. Their goal is to provide an individual online experience tailored specifically for you; one that is often much different from the experience of even your immediate neighbor, to earn your trust and ultimately, your dollar. There are varying ideas coming from Advertising Week about how to accomplish that, but it’s no secret at this conference that the Consumer is King.

Are you at Advertising Week? Insights, reactions, stories? Hit me up on Twitter @TheSquash7.


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