At the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) conference last month, twenty-eight hundred of my brethren in the advertising community watched memorable presentations from Progressive Insurance, Pepsi, Lyft, Harley Davidson, GE, Audi and Arby’s.
While the D and I words (Disruption and Innovation) were overused for my taste, luckily, the M word (Millennial) wasn’t used too much. In fact, it was emphasized several times that targeting exclusively by generation could be too broad-based. One marketing director gave an illustrative example of two staff members. One 25-year-old was a stay-at-home type watching linear TV, while a 52-year-old staff member was a digital wunderkind using over-the-top (OTT) services. He said we must target by psychographics and attitude, and be generationally agnostic!
The ANA board did provide some learning and suggestions – namely KPIs are great, but they should ladder up to business results. We need to continue to leverage (not rely on) technology for better customer experiences. We need to watch out for:
- getting overburdened with too much data
- understanding our customer journeys more fully
- having a clear focus, don’t be distracted or diffused and don’t try to do too much
- overburdening our processes – it now takes 8 months to get an idea to market – streamline and don’t be so ambitious
In the hallways, the hot topic of conversation I had with other marketers was ad blocking. Ad blocking reduces reach, so how are publishers, operating systems, networks and advertisers going to address this concern? The consensus is that it seemed to be primarily a publisher and network issue. However it is really larger than that, but we don’t have enough space here to adequately address the topic properly.
Other suggestions that we heard encouraged us to:
- Work with start-ups to learn what the new thinking is
- Test and learn
- A first mover is in a strong position
- Try to have global resonance and local relevance.
Jeff Charney from Progressive Insurance had by far the most entertaining presentation, and a few of his simple truths hit home. He came up with Moore’s Law of Advertising – that we will undergo more change in the next twelve months than we have in the last five years. That reflects the media world I know. In addition, we need to think of ourselves not as marketers but as content creators. Fresh content always wins in storytelling and we need to stop thinking that we are in advertising, but that we are in the content creation business.
After dinner one night, Seal performed a nice repertoire of his hit songs including Crazy. His lyrics really summed it up: “We are never gonna survive, unless we get a little crazy.” Even after all these years, he can still paraphrase a good marketing strategy!