For the last decade, the IAB MIXX Conference and Expo has been the digital centerpiece of Advertising Week in New York, helping the industry make sense of the digital revolution. “But the revolution is over, and we won!” Randall Rothenberg, President and Chief Executive Officer, Interactive Advertising Bureau, cheered as he opened the event. But what do we all do for a living? “What is advertising?” This question used to be easy to answer. Ad agencies communicated brand messages through major measured media, all through a very similar process. Today, however, if a company said it needed a new campaign, it likely wouldn’t know where to begin. Over the next two days of the 2013 IAB MIXX Conference and Expo, this is the question that we’ll wrestle with. If we succeed, it will propel us toward advertising excellence.
Brian King, Global Brand Officer, Marriott International, inspired the IAB MIXX audience by championing consumer insights, video, and what he called the 360-degree marketing experience. Marketers must be great hosts to consumers, learning their preferences and then serving exactly what guests want. This delivery starts with vibrant video that can mesmerize audiences and extends throughout a consumer’s entire travel experience—in which, he said, there are 367 brand touchpoints. In his experience, through research, he learned that travelers today value authenticity. He’s prioritized this quality, beginning with videos that genuinely represent the armor consumers wear to travel and the relief they seek upon arriving at their destination hotel, the pursuit of locally sourced food at the hotel restaurant, and the fabric used in the rooms. “This is not about old spray and pray marketing creating brand from the inside out…it’s an outside in approach to building your brand,” he said.
Advertising is experiences. Advertising is anticipation. Advertising is touchpoints.
Next up, a hot debate between world-class journalists. The pressing question about the press: Is this the golden age of journalism? Ken Auletta, Author, The New Yorker, and Henry Blodget, Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer, and Editor-In-Chief, Business Insider, engaged in a riveting conversation moderated by Kurt Andersen, Author, Host, “Studio 360.” Blodget took the position that we are, in fact, in a golden age of journalism. “We are in the middle of transition, but the world is vastly better informed than it ever has been in history,” he said. Auletta took a more cautious position, agreeing: yes, we’re in a golden age but. “The business model is still very much challenged…there are a lot of unanswered questions,” Auletta said. Delving into topics including the quality and value of content; the joys of choice and the ramifications of it; and the dynamics of advertising dollars as opposed to subscription income, one thing was clear: change is hard.
Change continued to rise to the surface. Colleen DeCourcy, Global Co-Executive Creative Director, Wieden+Kennedy, and Dave Luhr, President, Wieden+Kennedy, offered a candid view into the digital transformation of creative powerhouse Wieden+Kennedy. “It’s been a hard, hard transformation. We’ve made a lot of strides, but we don’t have all the answers,” Luhr said. Then he and DeCourcy walked the audience through the four things DeCourcy’s has observed since joining the agency as a digital creative leader. One: it’s ok not to do everything. This allows the agency to focus on its strengths. Two: The work comes first. This empowers the agency to accept change. Three: Be careful who you sleep with, meaning pick clients wisely. Four: Independence is everything. It’s being an independent, private company that allows them to prioritize the work over profit and loss charts.
* Good advertising is: the magic, emotional connection that we make between client and consumer.
Next, change was epitomized. Michael Lazerow, Chief Marketing Officer, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Salesforce.com, upped the ante saying 1:1 marketing relationships has been around for a while. It’s now evolved to 1:1@mass. “Every consumer interaction is now digital marketing,” he said. The key is drawing all of the various data points about an individual consumer together—social, purchasing, campaign, and more—to define and manage the customer journey and optimize content across all channels. It’s about creating a personal, and inherently social, journey for the customer.
* Advertising is social.
Following a brief networking break, the program also took a break—to talk about video games. Keith Lorizio, Vice President, U.S. Sales and Marketing, Microsoft, and Ross Honey, General Manager, Xbox Advertising, Microsoft, demoed the upcoming Xbox One, which is actually much more than a gaming console. It’s a breakthrough device that brings together cutting edge interactivity through voice, gesture, and even heartbeat speed recognition, deeply personalized experiences, and the unification of the fragmented universe of content today. While the presenters avoided too much talk about advertising, the advertising message was loud and clear. We’re all entering a new era of engagement—where marketers will not only be capturing eyeballs, they may even be able to know if the eyeballs are in the room and watching the screen.
Susan Lyne, Chief Executive Officer, AOL Brand Group delved deeper into the topic of personalization. We’re moving from a “platform centric era to a people centric era,” she said, and stories are what sustain the industry. AOL is reinventing the story for the digital age. What makes this medium different is that you can target stories to the people who will most appreciate them and that you don’t need a million dollars to play. Anyone can participate.
* Advertising is storytelling.
After a hearty networking lunch, Andy Forssell, Acting Chief Executive Officer and Senior Vice President, Content, Hulu, sat down for a fireside chat with Randall Rothenberg. The two discussed Hulu’s decision not to sell the company, the dynamic of being both a content creator and partner to existing television networks, and the advertising philosophy behind the business. “You don’t have to use shows as a proxy for audience anymore,” Forssell said. “In the end shows are the path of that, but let us aggregate and build audience for you.” Hulu’s model also allows for more time and leeway in show performance. Individual shows don’t have the weight to pull off primetime network programming. Hulu’s philosophy, even as an original content creator, allows them to build audiences over the course of a year and find audience pockets in creative ways. Forssell also discussed the value of 7-second spots. “If the ad is longer than the video, the ratio is off.”
* Advertising is great sight, sound, and motion.
The audience enthusiastically headed off to participate in deep-dive learning track sessions on Advertising Is Mobile—Liquid Creativity and the Cross-Screen Consumer; Advertising Is Video—Connected Sight, Sound, and Motion; and Advertising Is Technology—Automation and Personalization. The day closed with networking and cocktails in the all-new IAB MIXX Expo experience.
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