Every year the APA hosts an afternoon of enlightening talks and presentations telling us about the Future Of Advertising. I have seen it Many Times.
It is fun to look back and see if the Future really did pan out as expected, what we sneered at, what terrified us, what is now laughable or everyday.
It is pretty much 50/50. Some techs came and went, certain things – oh God, I was there for a Facebook talk – are now completely our Present.
So now, what does 2016 have in store?
We start with Ian Leslie. Ian wrote this article How Mad Men Lost their Way. And rather than read it out to us he shared it with us.
He ran through the history of advertising, from advertising being a branch of sales, morphing into the Age of Creativity, coming out into the Digital Age. And asked have we lost our way. He said many good things, one quote I liked was “Retargeting is Horrible”. I won’t go into massive detail, you can read the article, but I must say for me this was very seductive as the conclusion was that the 30 Second TV ad rocks.
If only we had the budgets….
A nice chap from Credos reminded us of our Advertising responsibilities. We need to present ourselves well and face up unpopular perceptions, like advertising to Kids (we actually have much more stringent rules than the rest of Europe) and Privacy. Data is both the new oil and the new asbestos.
He articulated that Advertising is not as attractive as it once was, (see Ian Leslie saying no one knows what we do anymore) and said that on 34% of people would recommend a job in advertising, which is lower than banking. 1 in 3 people now apologise for working in advertising (actually, it was probably always thus but for different reasons) and that 60% agree that our best years are behind us. Which is fine for the smug oldies but sad as sad for our emerging new talent.
Along skipped Tom Rainsford from Giff Gaff. Tall, excellently bearded, happy with himself, he talked about his collaborative relationships with the people he works with. About being accountable for your advertising. Much of what he said was fair, good, great practice, but too me it felt a little glib. And although I do personally believe that as an industry we protect the wrong things, and maybe it is time for a shake up, I don’t feel comfortable with the APA condoning a system where the client does not have an ongoing relationship with an Agency. Much too discuss.
Dan Phillips from MPC invited us to get on board the Millennial Falcon, which as puns go wasn’t bad. He rather brilliantly contradicted the first talk, but telling us that Millennials actively want to engage with brands. There is some truth in both bold statements. And Dan tells us the answer is Real Time. Technology has caught up and made this kind of engagement much more achievable than it was say at the time of the magnificent Old Spice Guy. He also used the term Frictionless Buying, which although exciting makes me a little twitchy.
Evan from Nexus Interactive Arts told us about Storytelling. About using your space, not just a “square rectangle”. There was some good stuff, including the incredible White House Christmas trees (although we had seen them before) and an animated film that changed depending on direction you were facing, how fast you were moving, where you were. Fascinating. Big Projects. A little remote.
We hung out with the VR guys in the break, experiencing the world, as they would like us to experience it. The word is 2016 is the year of VR. Space Storytelling begs to differ. I say there is room for Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality but mostly for Real Reality.
We sat back and watched a number of thrilling case studies in the IDEAS interactive showcase. The glorious Christmas trees, visual sound with Samsung, a stunning piece of work at the stock exchange from Framestore, Gaz and Leccy – an impressive interactive cinema experience that deserved better character names, and an APP that makes you pay per laugh. A lot of it was very corporate and, yes, American, and some were re-packaging themes we have explored before, but all good and valid and relevant.
Lots of nodding in the room as Felix Morgan tells us that it is proven that long-term brand growth is born out of more emotional ads. And we need to make not just attractive, but unrisky for clients.
He explains how to get rid of Focus Groups and bring in Biometrics. Kind of fascinating, maybe in hindsight a bit obvious, it is using what is inside your body to measure you response to ideas.
Your sweat, your facial coding, your eye tracking.
Use this testing to De Risk Creative Bravery.
There had been alluding to Adblocking all afternoon. It was up to Mel Exon to talk to us about it properly. There was a fair bit of doom and gloom, but some positive insight to come out of it. The world must understand that without advertising funding there will be no good content unless you are prepared to pay for it. It is probably advertisers’ fault for putting up crap in the digital landfill (no one in the room, obviously). There is talk of paying to be whitewashed (which seems like a lot of money going to nobody who really needs it).
We need to craft. We need to be aware of how we load ads and the space they take up.
And that was it. Back out into the still light night.
Tech. No tech. Super tech. Ideas Ideas Ideas. Crafting.
Looking forward to 2017. (Physically and metaphysically)
I am a Veteran of the Future