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Cannes Lions 2008: New mediums, old problems

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Cannes Lions 2008: New mediums, old problems

The first day of the 55th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival saw a host of speakers deliberate on the new avenues that are making their way in the media landscape. The topics varied from contextual video advertising to more on the web and to what it means to be a media communications company. While clearly newer mediums are coming up, all speakers reasserted the need for knowing the consumers and focus on relevance.

Federico Grosso, SVP, Business Development, blinkx, was the first speaker to kick off the Festival. In the seminar on ‘Together at last: Matching truly relevant advertising to online video content’, he focussed on the need to understand video content and consumer behaviour to be able to know how to place your advertising. Grosso said, “You need to understand the consumers and the content in which the consumer is moving. Even something as age old as a banner can be effective when you can get that right.”

He spoke on search and its dynamics and how words like Paris, Jaguar and Explorer, amongst many others, could throw different results and how the understanding of these patterns amongst other things allowed innovations in advertising like contextual video advertising.

He said, “The technological perspective gives the ability to create ads and that is as important as what the consumer is consuming. Advertising is the heart and soul of marketing, but the message has to be relevant.”

Another interesting seminar saw Accenture’s Group Managing Director Nick Smith moderate a session that focussed on ‘Creativity versus Numerousity’. Smith stated that web was at the heart of a brand’s promise. Consumers today have a role in defining the brand. Communications is dominated by ideas and how they are presented, but at the end of the day, measurement has a role to platy too.

Quoting Galileo, he said, “‘Count what is countable, measure what is measurable and what is not, make it measurable’,” before opening the floor to the speakers.

The first speaker of this session, Freddie Laker, Director, Digital Strategy, Sapient, spoke on ‘Designing for success’. He quoted the examples of sites like, Motorola’s ‘improve your karma’, and Trevor, the Mentos intern, to speak on some of the initiatives where designing had played a key role.

He admitted that sometimes there was just blind luck involved. “You don’t know what would be successful. While judging a campaign, the quality of design, functionality and usability can be measured. The quality of execution would obviously affect the success of the website, but judging a campaign site that focuses on evoking an emotional reaction from a consumer is an inaccurate science at best,” Laker noted.

Mark Inskip, Director-Digital Marketing Sciences, Accenture said that technology was delivering the capability for brands to have conversations with consumers. However, creativity is only an element of brand communication. He observed, “Even award winning websites are undermining their experience through lack of measurement and technical integration. Part of the issue is the plethora that is there to measure. The best sites know what they want to achieve through their communication, but they just aren’t measuring it.”

He explained that creativity in web delivery required brilliance around the use of information, technology, evaluation techniques as well as impact. He concluded by saying, “Talk about the emotional response, but unless it is usable, useful and of interest to the consumers, it wouldn’t work.”

Ariel Steinmann, Senior Vice President, Marketing, ING Direct, spoke on results. Bringing the client’s side of the story, she reiterated that things that mattered were measuring the results, the return on investments and the constant lookout on how to be more efficient. She added, “Anything you do to improve efficiency is not money and revenue.” She took the audience through the need to understand the different customer segments and then define the message.

All speakers, however, agreed that no matter what kind of tools one had, the big idea was always important.

Another session, ‘On Top Down Under – Revolutionising Mobile Entertainment’, spoke on the changing game for advertisers with various kinds of companies, including technology and telecom, rapidly moving to be media communications company. Justin Milne, Group MD, BigPond, Testra Corp Ltd, sited the example of Testra and its move from being a silo production company to a media-based communications company.

The game at the end of the day was about aggregating content and this move allowed it an increasing market share and growing revenue. The things to watch out here are right content and distribution systems, and then relevant content to the right target group.


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