Advertising Week in New York is always a cacophony of sights and soundbites, but few of the conferences that take place throughout the city had as much of an eye (and ear) towards shaping the future as the Mobile Marketing Association’s Innovate conference on October 1 - 2. From VR to voice, the event focused on how technology is changing the world. Here are eight takeaways:
Opening keynote Daymond John did this very much pre-mobile by launching his FUBU brand in part by begging LL Cool J to have his picture taken in FUBU gear. That leap of faith gave the brand equity it hadn’t yet earned.
Lorna Peters, VP/Marketing of Harry’s illustrated how the upstart shaving brand has broken nearly every rule about how that category has traditionally been marketed and sold.
And, Virgin Galactic’s Stephen Attenborough, who keynoted on Innovate’s second day, told the crowd at Innovate that the Virgin Galactic team has been working for 14 years on the as yet unfilled goal of sending commercial passengers to space. But the fact that Virgin has sold more than 700 people tickets for space flight at $200,000 each anyway speaks to the conviction of going for it. “We are at the dawn of a new age, a second space age and it’s one that’s going to affect us all,” he said. Check out our interview with him here at the event to learn more about what’s ahead for Virgin!
MMA Chairman/CEO Greg Stuart decried the overuse and misuse of the term measurement, and urged attendees to realize that current techniques of measurement and buying weren’t necessarily build around a focus on results. “The big point that I want you to walk away with is that all of the measurement today [is] brokered on the concept of opportunity to see,” he said.
Even though it’s a shiny new thing, virtual reality is rapidly being used for very practical applications. A VR initiative for the Lincoln Navigator – which virtually put users in the car – was a big winner at the Smarties, partly because VR led to higher engagement. One key: "Make sure that you know your audience and that you’re delivering engaging content,” explained Lisa Spencer, digital marketing manager, Ford Enterprise. To hear more about the VR campaign, check out our post-session interview with her and Jenna Thompson of the Lincoln Motor Company here!
Opening keynote Daymond John, of Shark Tank fame, and NBCUniversal’s Linda Yaccarino both told marketers to take a look not at KPIs, but the Kardashians, because of their continuing ability to innovate, staying ahead of the cultural curve. “Anybody who says the Kardashians are famous just for being famous don’t know what they're talking about,” said Yaccarino. “The Kardashians are geniuses."
The digital world may be swimming in data, but speakers at Innovate cautioned that, despite its power, it has to be put in perspective. eBay CMO Suzy Deering explained that the company uses data to support what it understands about its customers. “Let the data tell you about the customer rather than the other way around,” she advised.
Everyone has a smartphone, but the challenge for marketers is to leverage the ability to personalize this most ubiquitous device, using data and chatbots to scale one-to-one customer experiences. As IBM Watson Advertising’s Phil Kinzler put it: “Assume that your consumers want to feel like there’s a person on the other end.”
Many speakers at the conference have their sights trained on voice technology, even if promising technologies like Alexa and Siri can still only perform limited skills. One fact marketers should know as the technology improves: according to Forrester’s Collin Colburn, people 65 and over are actually the biggest adopters of voice search; as usage grows, marketers will need to adapt their website content for voice queries.
Smarties judges Howard Lenn of J. Walter Thompson and Jessica Ruscito of CVS noted the repeated – and rewarded – trend among Smarties entrants to employ mobile for social good. “There’s a general theme of being able to build upon empathy,” said Ruscito. One of the two global Best in Show awards went to a campaign for Unilever’s Lifebuoy in China, which uses mobile to give Chinese parents 24-hour medical support when their children are ill. “It solved a real need by being so right on the brand equity,” said Lenn. It was just terrific how the results paid that off.” For a look at the Smarties 2018 Winners Gallery, click here. And to hear more from some of our winners that night, view our post-win interviews here, here and here!