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INNOVATE 2019 Highlights

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The MMA’s first foray into Los Angeles gave members and other attendees a fresh perspective on innovation.

In the entertainment capital of the world, we learned that the application of new technologies works best when it facilitates human connections that make an emotional impact. At MMA INNOVATE 2019, we learned how to tell better stories that match new formats and behaviors.

Here are 10 takeaways that will help you adopt a growth mindset of innovation in our mobile-connected world:

  1. Curiosity brings great ideas to life. Legendary producer Brian Grazer got the conference off to a rousing start by reminding us of the power of face-to-face communication. In story after story, Grazer credited his success—43 Oscar nominations and 195 Emmy nominations so far—to his ability to make eye contact and have “curiosity conversations” with people.

  2. You can’t just be interested—you have to be interesting.
    This idea has tremendous implications for marketers, who have less and less time to grab the attention—and interest—of consumers. Vassilis Bakopoulos, the MMA’s SVP—Head of Industry Research, explained that on mobile, the first second really counts.

    Being interesting from the very first moment makes it easier to create the emotional bonds that can lead to brand loyalty. “No one really makes data-driven decisions,” said Publicis Groupe’s Rishad Tobaccowala. “We choose with our hearts.”

  3. Sharing is more than caring—it’s good business.
    Daniel Cherry III, CMO of Activision Blizzard Esports, is at the forefront of innovation in the world of competitive gaming entertainment, or eSports. He’s building out a city-based franchise model for top leagues and networks like ESPN are giving him total control over broadcast production. To ensure that everything that happens during a competition is as interesting as possible, Cherry and his team follow one metric above all: “If a moment isn’t shared, it didn’t happen.”

  4. Don’t be afraid to try something new—it may work.
    Ingrid Cordy, Vice President, Global E-Commerce & Customer Experience at e.l.f. Cosmetics, explained how her brand needed to generate renewed interest after a period of stagnation. By testing small campaigns on TikTok, Joystick and other platforms to gain information, the brand saw potential with TikTok and decided to get involved in a bigger way. The brand’s #eyeslipsface contest garnered more than a million video submissions and generated 3.2 billion impressions—more than three times expectations.

    Andrew Glantz, Founder and CEO of GiftAMeal, is tackling the national hunger problem with a mobile app that encourages the social sharing of restaurant experiences. More restaurants are signing on, and the company donates 25% of its revenue to help solve a major societal problem.

  5. Innovation means little without a foundation of trust.
    Technology is one thing, but it can’t save you from a bad customer experience. Karin Timpone, Marriott International’s Global Marketing Officer, explained that all the technological wizardry that went into integrating 30 different brands into a unified loyalty program would have been a wasted effort without a culture of great customer service at each hotel.

  6. Make your CEO mad at you once a year.
    Problem solving can be disruptive, but that’s the goal of an innovator. Nat Geo’s Marcelo Galdieri asserted that he wasn’t doing his job unless the CEO got mad at him on occasion. “You know that you’re innovating when you have to explain to the CEO why something didn’t work, or if you get a call from the CEO asking why you’re doing something,” he said. “Innovation is constant trying. If you try ten things and one pans out, you’re doing great.”

  7. Create a culture of innovation.
    A commitment to innovation must take root somewhere for it to thrive and grow. Kate Brady, Head of Media Partnerships and Innovation at PepsiCo North America Beverages, explained how her company gamifies innovation to make it pervasive. “We use the brain trust of the entire organization to become better, faster and stronger,” she said. “Everyone in the company can participate in innovation as an entrepreneur, an expert, or an investor.”

    Even smaller efforts can develop innovative ideas. Katrina Beach, Vice President of Digital Capabilities and Platform Migration at Barclays US, said she uses occasional “Lab Days” to bubble issues up to the surface.

  8. Don’t get complacent.
    When a particular innovation works, the natural reaction is to keep doing more of it. But you need to know when your new innovation loses its luster.
    Several marketers indicated that it’s important to allocate a small section of their budgets, around 10%, for innovation. PepsiCo’s Kate Brady, who won the SMARTIES Marketer of the Year award during the first night of the conference, explained that her company follows a continuous “Now-Next-New” development cycle to keep new ideas in the pipeline.

  9. Do old things differently.
    Several of the presentations at MMA INNOVATE focused on putting twists on products and services that have either been around for a long time or have fallen out of favor:
    • Justin Zaghi explained how Heal is disrupting healthcare with an idea that was commonplace in the 1930s—the doctor house call.
    • Kortney Ziegler, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Appolition, used inspiration from the news to help fix a broken bail bond system.

  10. Use data in service to humanity.
    The right use of data can give marketers an edge, and MMA INNOVATE attendees got lots of great tips for harnessing the power of data to cut costs and engage customers. Duncan McCall from PlaceIQ offered advice on making better decisions through location data. Jumpshot’s Dr. Stephen Kraus warned about looking at data in all the wrong places. Grant Simmons from Kochava made us realize that fraud is a lot more rampant than we thought. And Bertrand Cocallemen from Teads, with Jeff Nicholson of Tracer, showed us what happens to creative when data, media and strategy come together.

The most exciting thing about innovation today, as we stand at the brink of the Third Connected Age (AI, IoT, Voice Interfaces and 5G), is that we have more exciting tools at our disposal to engage customers around the world.

Our goal as innovative marketers is to answer the question that came up at the start of 2019’s MMA INNOVATE, when Brian Grazer asked, “How do you scale authenticity through technology?” As you think about this question, please lean on the MMA and all the resources we provide that make it easier to #ShapeTheFuture® of marketing in a mobile-connected world.

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