Now that Advertising Week New York has officially packed up the red carpet of its 15th year, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect. Consider where we are today as an industry, and where we may be headed. It’s been an extraordinary year, and I’ve made a point of thinking (at times, overthinking) about the changes in our society and industry. And I’m not the only one—Advertising Week New York was filled with these perspectives.
This year, more than any other, brought a real sense of wanting to create a new identity for the most powerful form of human-to-human interaction: communication. We have the privilege of commercializing communication for brands to the people who love them. What changed? For many years, the conversation has been about how big the audience is, how ubiquitous the channels are, and how real you can be. Now, it’s about how engaged are people at the moment when they consider your brand over others.
My top 5 feels.
- Women account for $7 trillion in spending and make or influence 85% of all consumer purchases. There were 46 sessions that featured “Women” or “Female” in the title. That is the second most featured title apart from “Data,” which appeared 79 times. And we still wonder who rules the world. She does.
- Data: We cannot get enough of it. Data leads to insights; insights, to trends; trends, to innovation; innovation, to disruption. Simply put, it is powerful. But I believe data is only capable of telling us what to do—it can never tell us how. That’s the job of our creative industry.
- Programmatic, AI, and blockchain are all hot topics. Everyone wants to know how to achieve scale efficiently, seamlessly, and humanly. Keeping the human tone and trust while machines work with machines to reduce redundancy is the harmony people are striving for.
- Influencers were the topic of 22 sessions. They present a lot to grapple with for the industry. They love being authentic, but hate that word. They operate with a brand, or without one. They’re still experimenting with formats to find the those that are comfortable, real, and valuable. They used to be celebrities, but that’s grown. Now they are simply the people who provide deep engagement across channels and formats. Their ability to narrowcast and reach niche audiences is the new new, just as long as people pay attention.
- Diversity was at the heart of 21 sessions, and we must take the next leap while the momentum is here. From socioeconomic backgrounds to skillsets and ways of thinking, let’s embrace the special powers of people outside the typical focus. Working with diverse teams challenges thinking, sharpens performance, and breeds creativity. Our industry survives off this because it is rooted in innovation. Let’s make the minds of Madison Avenue a better reflection of the world around us. We’ve only just begun.