Advertising Week Europe: Lessons from Day 3

Ad Week Europe is well and truly over however the insights and takeaways are filling me with inspiration. I’ve managed to spend some time reflecting on the learnings from day 3 which I wanted to share with you as I think these provide interesting food for thought. Let’s talk about emotional storytelling, human marketing and the all-important move to 5G.

Emotional storytelling vs functional benefits

It’s said that storytelling can drive greater ROI, however, authenticity is also crucial if brands are to get this right. The panellists from the session ‘The art and science of emotional storytelling’ discussed the role of stories in building brand experiences to engage customers and the fact that tapping into your target audiences emotions’ is a much more effective approach than focusing on the functional benefits of a product or service.

Don’t get me wrong sometimes you need to talk functional, however, a move towards emotional storytelling is reflective of how audiences are engaging with brands today, even within the B2B space.

Today attention is severely divided so brands need to find their own unique voice that resonates with their target audience. Authenticity was a key theme in many of the discussions during Ad Week, and if brands are to connect with their audience on this deeper level, they should centre their approach around core values and purpose (and I think the same goes for any individual).

“Behind every brand is a brand story.”

The panellists then discussed cause marketing and the challenges facing brands that go down the route of telling stories about sustainability. I think this is such an important point and it’s great that businesses are playing their part and raising awareness however it needs to feel genuine. Generation Z are far more cynical than millennials when it comes to this and are much more likely to call it out and not give brands a second chance so whilst this is an increasingly important topic (and has been for some time), it goes back to telling true, authentic stories.

They then left us with a couple of thoughts.

  • Think about the content format (short bursts of information or long form storytelling works best)
  • Design stories that can be personalised by the viewer (think interactive Black Mirror)
  • Think of stories as cross-cultural, after all millennials are global citizens
  • XR – use extended reality to create an experience and emotional response that customers will remember long after.

I think the key takeaway here is that if you want people to feel differently about your brand, then using authentic storytelling could help to create that connection if done in the right way. After all, behind every brand is a brand story.

Human marketing: getting to know your customer

Data has played a pivotal role in marketing, allowing teams to gain insights into their customers and really start to tailor campaigns, however, has the industry forgotten about good old fashioned research and talking to their customers? I’ve bunched a few conversations into this section as I think it’s a really interesting debate.

I remember whilst studying we learned about social demographic targeting and grouping individuals who had noticeable similarities but in today’s world that’s far too broad an approach and doesn’t provide the granular detail for personalisation. Consumers are much more complex and if we want to really connect with them we need to understand who they are on a much deeper level.

But here’s a question – are we hung up on numbers? Do we need to go back to basics and embrace qualitative research methods such as ethnography and focus groups? Sophie Lewis, Chief Strategy Officer at VML Y&R, adopts this approach to really get to the heart of her client’s customers. There’s a distinct difference between the people running a business and the people buying the products, especially in the FMCG space, and it’s important to build strategies and ideas that customers resonate with. She buys and uses the products and talks to people to really understand them – I love this and think that we can sometimes forget to do this! This insight, paired with the data you already have means that you can develop a more effective campaign and this will feel much more relevant to the customer.

“Embrace the joy of people!”

Sophie Lewis

Is it time to mix traditional research with new data sets to maximise our strategies? Let me know what you think!

Who’s ready for 5G?

Everyone talks about 5G but how many people are geared up to reap the rewards? It’s a really interesting question and although there’s a lot of interest in the media around 5G, I’m not sure we’re doing enough to prepare.

In this session Mark Melling, Head of RYOT Studio EMEA at Verizon Media, talked about the fact that people and businesses see 5G as a future development, however, it’s here today and is about to explode. He shared a really interesting project with us where 5G was used to enable real-time remote music production. Think about how that alone could revolutionise the music industry.

5G technology will radically change the way we create and consume content in the future, facilitating real-time production of content experiences. That’s exciting from where I’m sitting. If we think about what the means for marketing we will have the scope to do so much more with XR, creating unique brand experiences and personalised content.

Mark then introduced Emily Savage, Creative Sector Lead at Digital Catapult, to the stage to discuss Digital Catapult’s CreativeXR immersive content accelerator programme, now in its second year. The programme is aimed at supporting the development of new virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences within the creative industries and includes things such as artistic pieces, cultural experiences, new forms of storytelling and new forms of interactive entertainment.

I’ve come across Digital Catapult before and I love what they do in the technology space, so this has got me really excited!

All in all I think there are some great opportunities here for marketers to create bespoke experiences for their customers and do some interesting things however it may just take a bit of time to get there. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in this space! Have you already started thinking about the possibilities of 5G within your role?

For more insights from the week read my key takeaways from day 1 and day 2.

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