Advertising Week has come to New York City for 16 years now, and this year it returned with 290+ events, 1,216 speakers, and four days’ worth of thought leadership content from some of the industry’s brightest leaders and business professionals. Each year, the conference serves as a useful way to take the pulse of the advertising industry’s current state—and to guess what’s coming next.
Diverse speakers from companies like Hulu, Bumble, Spotify, and Burger King led and participated in thought-provoking sessions like The Value of Diversity in Advertising and Inside the Zeitgeist: Conversations Shaping Culture, and there was a ton to be learned about different facets of the industry. Here are our team’s main takeaways from the week.
1. Recognize the importance of evergreen stories.
Advertisers often feel the need to constantly create content, or “hot takes,” that are relevant to what’s happening in the moment—whether it’s politics, holidays, or viral internet memes. As Carolyn O’Hara, Editorial Manager at Pocket, puts it, the internet places an “exhausting emphasis on recency.” But what happens when every brand does just that? Each person’s feed looks the same, and no one wins—not the publishers, the audiences, or the content creators. That’s why it’s important to craft high-quality stories, not just new ones. Stories that are timeless, poignant, and create lasting relationships with people instead of fleeting ones with consumers. Ask yourself: What stories can your brand tell that will withstand the test of time?
Here are a few examples of brands nailing it with evergreen content:
- “Identity,” a series of short films commissioned by 23andMe
- “It Can Wait,” AT&T’s campaign about distracted driving
- “Where Life Happens,” IKEA’s campaign that highlights mundane, somewhat uncomfortable, and often difficult real-life situations and the ways people cope
WHAT LIKEABLE’S DOING: Our CEO, Carrie Kerpen, shares stories of women from all walks of life with her Facebook Watch series, Work It. We also just launched a series in partnership with Stop & Shop called Beyond the Aisles that tells the stories of Stop & Shop customers and associates positively impacted by their connection to the store.
2. Look “inside the zeitgeist.”
God-is Rivera, Global Director of Culture & Community at Twitter, started her session by defining culture as “literally what people care about. It’s the relationships, the tech, the ideas that matter to people.” In recent years, it’s become increasingly important to consumers that brands are involved in culture. In fact, 23 percent of a consumer’s purchase decision is based on a brand’s cultural relevance (think Instagram aesthetic, voice on Twitter, etc.). If a consumer believes they can relate to a specific topic, they’re going to gravitate toward brands who feel the same way. Over the last few months, Twitter analyzed over three years’ worth of conversations on the platform to find narrative themes within conversations that were happening—real conversations, without hashtags or relevancy to brands.
These were a few of the topics Twitter identified as “emerging thematic areas”:
- Wellbeing: Conversations about mental health are now twice as common as conversations about the physical body, the gym, fitness, dieting, etc.
- Everyday Wonder: There’s been a major increase in conversations about space, nature, the planet, and the world.
- My Identity: Within this larger theme are the smaller sub-themes of “Fandoms,” “Gender,” and “Represent Me” (the last of which covers diversity, marginalization, LGBTQ representation, and more).
In an age where brands need to find authentic ways to communicate with customers, tracking conversations outside of advertising might just be the most useful tool to figure out what their consumers care about.
WHAT LIKEABLE’S DOING: With our Playbooks and Market Intelligence Reports, our Strategic Planners dive deep into industry trends and conversations, then use that knowledge to develop cohesive social strategies for brands. Plus, our Community Management team is always keeping tabs on what matters to brands’ target consumers based on their conversations.
3. Don’t be scared of brands taking things in-house.
With the new wave of brands born with the internet comes a different take on advertising, as well as a desire for full ownership over their own data and creative without turning to agency partners. But, this isn’t as scary for agencies as it sounds. As Todd Paris, Managing Director at Deloitte Digital, said, “Most brands are ending up in a hybrid relationship with agencies.” Sean Downey, VP of Media Platforms at Google, added, “I can probably count on one hand the amount of brands that do everything for themselves.” While brands are generally investing in more people and resources internally, there will always be room for agencies within specific niches who can fill in the holes. “In-housing is certainly a trend, but it’s not an all-or-nothing thing,” said Jillian Ryan, Principal Analyst at eMarketer. “A lot of what we see is that sometimes partners—whether that’s an agency, a consultancy, an actual tech platform—are actually helping brands skill up internally.”
WHAT LIKEABLE’S DOING: For over 10 years, we’ve been experts in social media and made it our specialty. And don’t worry—we still are. But as the industry has shifted, we’re increasingly working with in-house teams to share what we know and set them up for social success through Smarter Social™ training.
Advertising Week 2019 truly covered it all, from timeless topics like authentic storytelling to brand new topics like the importance of TikTok. We left the week feeling inspired and motivated to help brands connect with culture, tell meaningful stories, and make a difference. Sadie Thoma of Google said it best: “Creative storytelling is at the crux of everything we do, enabling advertising, at its best, to rise to the level of art. And like the best art, this kind of creativity can influence real change.”