MediaCannes Lions is unique in the advertising calendar. No other trade event comes close for the creativity, number or sheer quality of those in attendance.
While the creativity and artistic merit of the advertising industry is acclaimed and discussed in the Palais, the outskirts of the festival are where it becomes interesting for the technology providers. This year questions around measurement, verification and optimisation came to the fore, as brands and agencies attempt to determine the value of their advertising.
Measurement in online advertising has almost been a victim of its own success, unlike any medium, online can reveal precisely how many people have viewed an advert, for what length of time, and what action was taken following that exposure. The extent of measurement has led to most digital advertising being used in a performance capacity – how many views, clicks or engagements did the ad generate – and these metrics used as the principle KPIs for campaigns. But just because we can measure these metrics does not mean we necessarily should; they are not always the best way to judge a campaign’s success. For some brands the only metric which should be used to determine effectiveness is the impact the campaign has on sales over time. For others it should be the effect the campaign has upon brand metrics, such as brand recall and affinity. Many of the conversations at Cannes revolved around how the industry can move measurement away from metrics like views, towards KPIs which really matter to brands, allowing them to easily judge the return on investment delivered by digital.
Verification was another big topic, how to ensure that campaigns are delivering in view, in the right environments and to the right audiences. The importance of all three is clear, not just to brands, but to publishers, tech providers and also to audiences. The simplest route to achieving a high standard of advertising is to work with third party verification platforms, and to ensure that the delivery of advertising never becomes too many steps removed from the brand– it should always be easy to find out where a campaign is being run. An interesting point that arose during these conversations was not to panic. It’s hard to miss articles claiming hundreds of thousands of dollars are lost to fraud each year – it makes a snappy headline – but in reality if a campaign is run through a reputable provider using a third party verification platform then there is very little cause for concern. All impressions will be delivered to humans, and should an issue occur than the lost impressions should be made up by the publisher or tech provider, ensuring brands always receive value for money.
Optimisation through artificial intelligence was another big hitter in Cannes this year. With innovations in AI such as Google’s AlphaGo and ING’s The Next Rembrandt scooping up awards at the festival, it was how AI can be used to improve the advertising experience for users, brands and publishers which triggered the discussion outside the Palais. More data is available to advertisers than ever before, allowing brands to reach their consumers with more targeted, relevant advertising at the time the user is open to engaging with the ad, but this is only possible if the data can be analysed correctly. Artificial intelligence makes it possible to draw workable conclusions from the huge amounts of data generated by users and implement these learnings in real time to improve campaign performance, across the KPIs which matter to brands.
Measurement, verification and optimisation through artificial intelligence permeate the advertising industry, to effectively change any of these elements it is necessary for all levels, brands, agencies, tech providers and publishers, to work together towards a joint end goal. After a week spent working as one in the Cannes sunshine, it all seems very possible