The Advertising Industry Has a Lot on its Mind

Last week, around 95,000 executives from around the globe convened in New York City to learn, network, party and connect. As you might have guessed, the four day experience I’m referring to is none other than Advertising Week.  

At first glance, this seems to be a community that is finally zeroing in on a select group of disruptive topics that have been bubbling up for a while. The gender balance and women in top digital and creative roles was one—with seven panels dedicated to women there was no shortage of advice for those looking to make it in a man’s world. Sheryl Sandberg pointed out that women represent less than 3% of creative directors in the entire advertising industry, even though women control 80% of consumer spending in the United States.  

Other hot topics included the evolution of media, new innovations in distribution technologies, and changing consumption habits. Speakers such as Jonathan Perrelman of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures led the way; he illustrated the science behind creating shareable content for the social web—and how brands need to get out of the way, seen beautifully here in Dear Kitten.

Agencies such as R/GA highlighted another macro trend, by showing how they are adapting to a rapidly changing landscape; creating new frameworks for engaging through a combination of messages plus behaviors. Specifically, the agency has partnered up with TechStars to build a Connected Devices Accelerator, a program focused on helping startups excel in application connectivity.

This was Advertising Week's busiest and most ambitious schedule yet. As is with any large-scale event in New York, when I tried to decipher themes for the event there was an overall feeling of “there’s just a lot going on.”  

Listening in to panels, I was able to pinpoint a few reoccurring trends; native advertising being the front-runner. Notably defining what makes a "quality" native campaign, how to label native ads and distinguish them from organic content, and show-and-tells of the most effective native ad strategies to date. Alongside native, programmatic advertising and the ongoing rise of mobile and video played starring roles.

So where did Real-Time Marketing stand in amongst this wider conversation? 

During his Advertising Week session, our own Chris Kerns showed us that brands are sold on real-time marketing, using Apple’s #bendgate as a recent example. In fact, if the chatter around Advertising Week is anything to go by, RTM has become such a part of the communications fabric of 2014, it has moved from beyond the craze phase. The ability to execute the right creative at the right time, fueled by social data, has become an accepted part of today’s brand building toolkit.

Our own data, taken from Spredfast Intelligence, shows just that.

Just because RTM is no longer the latest craze, does not mean we can take our finger off the pulse. Now brands must evolve to a place of structure and ongoing learning. Kerns talked about the different types of Real-Time Marketing, stating that the key is to mix up those off-the-cuff moments with preparedness, and above all, to know when to stop. Kerns emphasized that pushing too many posts on trending or irrelevant topics is exhausting and quickly alienates the very consumers a brand is trying to reach. 

“Just because something is trending doesn’t mean you jump on it,” corroborated Nancy Hill, president and CEO of the 4A’s, speaking at the panel on “How to Build an Influential Brand.”

Should we be talking about Right Time Marketing instead? 

There were a lot of crazes and buzzwords hitting the ad world throughout the week (among them were “real-time decisioning” and “a dashboard for the dashboard”). Yet when asked about RTM, one exhausted panelist sighed loudly that he would, "shoot the next person who asks me that" and that we should be talking about Right Time Marketing instead. So while I am loathe to add another word to the mix, should we evolve what RTM means as our practice of it does too?

The most effective way to reach a target is about the synergy of content and platform—putting out the right message on the right device at the right time. Social channels play a role in this approach and Kerns' research into RTM shows that if done properly, Real-Time Marketing does work, with increased conversation amongst the right people at the right time, impacting overall sales and business growth.

Whatever acronym you prefer, the message is clear: this is not going away anytime soonThis industry is adjusting to a smaller stage—at least 40% of Internet consumption now happens on mobile. Our industry is also facing an ever-changing cast of platforms. The advertising industry has storytelling at its core—RTM is an effective component for brands looking to build their narratives across multiple and diverse digital channels as they continue to change.

Ready to build your brand's narrative with RTM? Download the free introduction to Trendology today!

Trendology: Download Introduction

Gemma Craven's picture

Gemma Craven

Gemma is the Executive Director of Strategic Markets at Spredfast where she leads Spredfast's North American team of Market Directors - social business practitioners and key partners to Spredfast's clients and prospects. She is also a WOMMA board member, runner, and owner of a Boston Terrier named Stella.