The 2018 ANA Masters of Marketing conference has kicked off with aplomb.
The pinnacle of the US marketer’s year
The ANA Masters of Marketing conference is a key fixture in the calendars of many US marketers. In a world where technology is changing the landscape at an unprecedented rate, the opportunity to meet your peers, discuss the major issues the industry is facing and come away with some answers – or at least food for thought – is one that’s not to be missed. With that in mind, many marketers from across the US have descended upon Orlando in the last few days. Those from more northern cities surely appreciate the balmy Florida weather, but none of the attendees will be letting sunshine and blue skies distract them from the matter at hand!
This year’s theme is growth – against a challenging backdrop
As was to be expected, the Masters of Marketing started with a bang with some thought-provoking pre-conference sessions on Wednesday. The official theme, as has been the case for 10 years, is ‘growth’ – an increasingly elusive concept for many organisations. The sessions today were a showcase for how marketers can drive growth for their organisations by harnessing the transformation the industry is undergoing and using it to future-proof their marketing strategies.
The awareness versus performance debate
ECI started with a session that examined the ongoing debate between driving awareness and performance in the era of artificial intelligence – something that we are particularly interested in. We are all aware of the huge disruption that AI is causing in the advertising industry (and indeed in all industries). It is the equivalent of the internet back in the late nineties – we are possibly over-estimating its significance in the short term, but woefully under-estimating its long-term impact. A graph showed in no uncertain terms that we’re rapidly approaching an inflection point where machines will become more intelligent than humans. This will only be exacerbated by the arrival of 5G, which will unleash an unfathomable amount of data and, with that data, the Internet of Things will come into its own.
Against that backdrop, the audience was given a crash course in harnessing that wealth of data and the increasing importance of mobile to drive sales and customer loyalty. Rachel Tipograph, the founder of MikMak which has reinvented infomercials for a generation of digital natives, taught the audience how to harness first-party data in the most effective way to create campaigns that drive sales and brand loyalty. Working on the basis that ‘if it isn’t Instagrammed, it didn’t happen’, we were taken through a step-by-step process, from setting a campaign objective (bottom-of-the funnel, such as link clicks
or landing-page views) to identifying laser-focused audiences, developing ‘thumb-stopping’ creative and optimising your landing page – which is now more likely to be your product page than your home page. Rachel emphasised the importance of the pixel to capture real-time data for optimisation and build qualified audiences for prospecting or targeting – something we will be examining in our post-conference series of articles next week.
Where next for advertising?
The session that followed was an AEF (ANA Educational Foundation) symposium entitled ‘The end of advertising as we know it: what next?’ The premise for this session was the fact that advertising is increasingly seen as an interruption in what the consumer wants to be doing, and – in an age of ad-blockers and paid-for, ad-free streaming services such as Netflix – marketers need to find new ways to meaningfully connect with and engage with their audiences so that adverts are welcome and not seen as an intrusion. Mark Truss of JWT presented the keys to humanising a brand: transparency, brand contribution, business conduct, brand purpose, value beyond the customer and employee appeal; he also laid out how brands should behave in order to maintain a real and lasting relationship with consumers. Crucial behaviours included humanising customer support, being true to your brand purpose and identity, and using social media to be social – not just as a platform to drive sales.
The scene is set for an invigorating few days
The pre-conference sessions at the Masters of Marketing were more than a taste of what is to come – they set the scene for what will undoubtedly be an energising, challenging and thought-provoking conference. We anticipate a lot of discussion around data privacy and the challenges that entails for marketers (particularly in light of federal investigations into media-buying practices and the introduction of GDPR), what the future holds for marketing and how best to invest those precious ad dollars.
Get the latest insights with ECI
We will share a download of each day of the conference on our blog, ECI Thinks, as well as real-time insights from each session via LinkedIn – you can follow these using our hashtag #ECIatANAMasters. Next week, we’ll release a series of articles summarising our learnings from the conference and their implications for marketers. And of course, if there is anything mentioned in these articles that you would like to discuss with us in more detail, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thumbnail image: Alexandra Matthews