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Whether you sang along to “Maria Maria” in Wyclef Jean’s music production masterclass or learned how Jesse Eisenberg channeled his anxiety into a creative career, Advertising Week 2019 offered plenty of content options. Some 100,000 attendees descended upon Lincoln Square for a four-day frenzy of sessions featuring conference circuit staples like Gary Vaynerchuk and fresh faces like beauty vlogger Manny MUA. In case you missed it, here are a few hot topics and takeaways to keep in mind.
1. DTCs mobilize consumers. When Serena Williams launched her eponymous clothing line, rather than turning to a major retailer, she went digital and direct to consumers. “Our main goal at our company Serena is to get rid of the word ‘exclusive’ and bring in the word ‘inclusive,’” Williams said onstage. Social media provides a source of instant feedback and a direct connection to her audience. For example, she recently had the idea to showcase the same dress design on women ranging from size 2 to 18. Her social team produced the video, and the promo went viral on both her brand and personal accounts.
“When you look at Serena, there’s a lot of transparency and authenticity,” said Verizon Media CEO Guru Gowrappan, who shared how Williams’ leadership on the company’s advisory board helps steer long-term product strategy. “We want to have that one-on-one relationship with our customers,” he said.
2. Data privacy will make marketers reconnect with customers. Lauren Fisher, an eMarketer analyst, presented predictions on how consumer privacy laws will shift the digital marketing industry. She said consumers are concerned about how their personal data is used: While 61% say they’re willing to accept certain privacy risks for convenience, 56% disagree with sites collecting personal data to make online content more relevant. This leads marketers to believe that as more states follow the lead of California’s Consumer Protection Act (and Europe’s GDPR), a number of consumers will revoke brands’ access to their data. According to a recent Hubspot survey, 60% of U.S. Internet users said they would opt out of companies collecting their information if given the choice.
3. Partnerships drive audience growth. Stephanie McMahon, the WWE’s first ever Chief Brand Officer and one of the World’s Most Influential CMOs, spoke about the importance of integrations on a panel moderated by Forbes CMO Network Editor Jenny Rooney. Customers know marketing when they see it, but “if you can really create content that’s specifically for them, I think the audience truly values that and appreciates it,” McMahon said.
Ten years ago the WWE decided to transition its TV-14-rated content to more family-friendly, PG fare. This strategic move opened the door for more mainstream partnerships, today totaling 200. “One of the best ways to market your brand is through incredible partnerships,” McMahon said. “When people hear from brands, or consumers hear from brands that they trust and we have these partnerships with WWE, it makes them listen a little bit differently.”
4. Audio keeps climbing. Podcasts have spiked in popularity over the last five years, with half of Americans saying they’ve listened at least once. This presents an opportunity for advertisers to reach new, attentive customers—54% of respondents said they would be more likely to consider brands that advertise on podcasts.
New cars are driving the growth of the digital audio audience. “Just as digital audio has become ubiquitous in our pockets, it’s now becoming more and more available in the car, which is opening up this incredible world of choice,” Tom Webster of Edison Research said, presenting the firm’s latest data. Today two-thirds of Americans listen to digital audio at least monthly, up from 27% in 2010 and 53% in 2015.
5. Brands must be brave. In today’s charged political climate, brands that don’t stand for something will fall by the wayside. Standout brands define their purpose, represent causes their customers care about and back up their positions with their business practices. Taking a stance may invite criticism, but when done with authenticity, it builds trust.
“Brands must be brave,” iONE Digital President Detavio Samuels said. “They must draw a circle around the audiences that they care about and love and who love them back. And do what those audiences need, and be OK with everybody else in the world hating you.”