Digiday+ Research: Meetings draw attendees to Cannes this year, but cost is a big barrier

Thanks to Teads for sponsoring Digiday’s Cannes coverage and presenting this piece of Digiday+ Research, which is normally available exclusively to paying subscribers.

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is underway on the French Riviera. So, what’s driving attendees to the South of France this year?

Digiday+ Research surveyed 180 professionals from technology platforms and providers, publishers, agencies and brands to find out — and it turns out the party atmosphere is driving attendance less than you might think.

Digiday’s survey found that pros who work for tech platforms and tech providers represent the largest group of Cannes attendees this year. Thirty-nine percent of tech pros said they’re heading to the festival — the same percentage who said they’ve been to Canne previously.

Publishers account for the next-biggest group of attendees, with 23% of publisher respondents telling Digiday they’ll be in Cannes this week. This is also the same percentage of publisher pros who said they’ve traveled to Cannes previously.

Agency pros are next, with 21% saying they’re at Cannes this year. This represents a very slight drop from the 23% who said they’ve been to Cannes previously.

Brand pros came in a distant fourth, according to Digiday’s survey. Just 6% of brand pros said they’re attending Cannes this year — which is a big difference from the 19% who said they’ve attended the festival in previous years.

Digiday’s survey also found that, for those who are going to Cannes, meetings are the big driver. Fifty-eight percent of those who told Digiday they’re heading to the event said they’re doing so to meet with people. Dealmaking was the second-biggest reason driving attendees to the festival — but by a wide margin. Just under a quarter of respondents going to Cannes (24%) said making deals is their reason for attending.

Interestingly, not one respondent to Digiday’s survey cited parties as their reason for heading to Cannes this year, despite the event’s reputation. And only 7% of respondents told Digiday they’re going to Cannes to be seen, while just 2% said there’s no outsized reason to attend Cannes.

Outside of Digiday’s response list, attendees said they’re going to the festival this year for activations, podcasting, hosting events and brand sponsorships.

Overall, respondents to Digiday’s survey agreed that meetings are the most important reason to attend Cannes this year (41% said this). Dealmaking followed behind, with 20% of respondents citing it as the most important reason to head to the festival. Thirteen percent said being seen is most important, 2% said parties top the list of reasons to attend and 6% said there’s no one reason to attend Cannes (although one respondent did list vacation as an “other” reason to go).

Some respondents also said networking and the chance to see the industry’s best work were important reasons to be in Cannes this year.

Digiday’s survey found that, for those who aren’t on the French Riviera this week, cost is the biggest reason. More than a third of respondents (39%) said the cost of attending is the reason they’re not going to Cannes this year.

Meanwhile, just over a quarter (26%) said the value of the event is not enough to justify the trip. Notably, thirty-five percent of respondents chose “other” as the reason they’re not going to the festival this year, citing reasons including that it’s hard to justify the expense and time investment of the festival vs. its value and ROI, and that their budgets go toward other events they deem more valuable to their companies.

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