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  • 5 Takeaways from Attending Advertising Week

    Last week I attended Advertising Week in NYC. For those unfamiliar with Advertising Week, it’s 4 days of wall-to-wall sessions on a broad range of advertising-related topics, featuring some of the biggest names in the industry. The sessions are at various venues in the Times Square area. For the marquee sessions, long lines form well in advance. The logistics for the organizers are pretty bewildering, but everything comes together well and it’s easy to navigate.

    I focused on attending as many of the video advertising-related sessions as possible and below I’ve shared 5 of my main takeaways.

    1. Measurement and Data are Number One Priority
    It’s no exaggeration to say that measurement and data came up on every single session I attended. Measurement was raised mainly in the context of concern that the TV and video industry doesn’t have a good handle on total viewership and therefore is losing out on huge ad revenue. Ironically, data is allowing content creators and advertisers to know more about viewers and how to better target them with ads than ever, especially via programmatic. For as long as I can remember, “Content is King” has been the industry adage. But data is emerging as the real king now. Data insights will soon drive every aspect of the video industry.

    2. Content Creation is More Competitive Than Ever
    Another omnipresent theme was the concern that there’s more content being created than ever, and it’s more competitive to break through and attract an audience than ever. I’m not just talking about scripted series (which, as has been widely reported, is at a record level). Instead, the broader definition includes online-only short series, clips, UGC, native video advertising, branded entertainment, etc.). The list goes on. As a number of speakers said, there has never been as much video created in human history. And the more that’s created the harder it is to get a return.

    3. It’s Still Early Days
    In some ways, it’s like the Internet is just now dawning for the TV and video industry. The critical mass of broadband homes, gazillions of connected and mobile devices, new entrants/business models, etc. have created a perfect storm of chaos, which has upended long-held assumptions (just as the Internet did for the print and music industries in the past). “We don’t know yet” and “We must experiment” were catchphrases I heard frequently. Everyone seems to be trying different things to see what resonates with audiences and what doesn’t. Fear of inaction seems to dominate.  

    4. Social Media and the Rise of the Digital Platforms
    Another big theme was the influential and growing role of social media and digital platforms (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Google, Apple, Amazon, etc.) in terms of promotion, distribution and monetization, particularly for younger audiences. There were many data tidbits offered up, for example, about how much traffic a Facebook video initiative drove. Across the industry, it seems there is an emerging consensus that social media and big digital platforms are changing the rules of the game.

    5. Ad-Blocking is Public Enemy #1
    Finally, ad-blocking also found its way into most sessions. Ad-blocking is a DEFCON 1 level issue for the industry, in light of Apple’s decision to support ad-blockers in iOS 9. However, there were many comments about how irrelevant or aggressive advertising has fueled users’ disdain for advertising, in turn driving interest in ad-blockers. This theme fed into the importance of data and improved targeting via programmatic (see above) as a way to reconnect users with appropriate advertising. In addition, there was heightened interest in native video advertising as a way around ad-blocking.

    There were plenty of other topics that came up at the Advertising Week sessions I attended, but the above seemed to be the most omnipresent. For anyone else who attended Advertising Week, how do these align with your takeaways and what else did you hear?

     
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