Lessons from the front lines at Cannes: Convergence is here

By Dan Rosenfeld, VP, Data Strategy

Every year some of the biggest names in the ad industry take the stage at Cannes Lions — the international festival for creativity — to share insights, inspiration and learnings, and 2019 was no exception.

Perhaps the most notable trend at Cannes this year was the shift from an ad tech vs. creativity conversation to a more TV-centric conversation. What’s old is new, and what’s new is, well, old.

TV seemed to be top of mind for most in attendance at Cannes — but it was TV in a different context. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most interesting things we learned from our time on the front lines at Cannes.

TV is a priority, but convergence is key
Cord cutting and the rise of streaming services was a prominent theme, but the future of TV advertising, including the ascendance of connected and addressable TV, were standouts.

While it was clear that TV advertising is a main priority for brands, attendees still recognized that the future of advertising lies in the convergence of both TV and digital, with a particular focus on providing omnichannel offerings with commensurate measurement. The key to unlocking value for marketers and consumers is to understand who is receiving what message and on what platform so marketers can calibrate and tailor messaging for maximum effect.

Executives honed in on the need for advertisers to connect with consumers in a meaningful way. Conversations centered around consumer insights, such as working with publishers to give buyers access to premium inventory across screens and ultimately improving campaign performance.

Streaming is leading the next wave of content consumption
Streaming services were also a hot topic of conversation at Cannes this year, with companies like WarnerMedia, Disney and NBC all announcing plans to launch their own streaming services.

Convenience and cost will drive the next wave of consumable content. However, with a number of incumbents driving more competition in the streaming space, innovation is key. The smart money is betting on premium content driving consumer demand. Content is king and we’re looking forward to seeing these streaming services come to life. There is new ground for innovative advertising that is both relevant and non-interruptive with these new services: Fingers crossed that they deliver.

Social channels are diversifying long-form content
As publicly reported, Facebook spent up to $1 billion last year funding its own video platform, Watch, and Google allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to creating original YouTube programming. Twitter has also invested heavily in live video streams while Snapchat offers shows from major media companies and Instagram has introduced its increasingly popular IGTV offering. Up and down La Croisette in Cannes, the big social platforms shared real estate with tech platforms and TV companies, a visual reminder of convergence.

The industry will continue to sharpen its approach to how it monetizes long-form content, as premium video, especially on mobile devices, becomes a more dominant form of viewer consumption. eMarketer estimates that 84 percent of internet users will be frequent watchers of digital video content by 2021 and 83 percent will be using mobile devices to watch video content. With these sizable audiences, we predict that advertisers will continue to shift their strategies to align with these behavioral shifts in the years to come.

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