As the media, advertising and marketing worlds closed out the 13th annual Advertising Week in New York City on Friday, several dominant themes buoyed their way to the forefront of many of the over 250 seminars, panels and workshops presented throughout the week. With ‘change’ as the obvious common denominator for each, below are the top three trends to come out of Advertising Week 2016.
1. Perhaps best illustrated by PepsiCo’s Brad Jakeman as he explained that innovation “does not come from homogeneous groups of people,” the obvious need for racial, cultural and gender diversity in the industry was undoubtedly the most topical, relevant issue of conversation throughout the week. Diversity came up in most, if not all, panels in some shape or form, such as the Town Hall session, “The Race to Re-Unite,” where speakers like actor/activist Jesse Williams discussed how public figures contribute to the conversation of race as it intersects with industries like sports and entertainment. Williams said he believed the digital age allows people to feel more invested in causes not immediately their own, largely thanks to mobile video, explaining how “it’s easy at a distance” but it’s “something else when it effects your life and your workplace.” A 4A’s study later revealed research that found almost 75 percent of participants believed the industry failed at giving ethnically diverse populations equal opportunities as their white counterparts. Gender equality and the need for a more gender diverse workforce was another central focus for the diversity conversation, with panels like “The Revolution Will Be Feminized” and “Breaking the Mold” focusing on the work done, and the work still to do, to shatter glass ceilings in industries far and wide.
2. Millennials, millennials, millennials. They’re here, marketers know it, and they better start paying attention. The power and influence of the millennial audience in marketing was a theme that popped up in panels focused on everything from data and metrics, to brand authenticity and the rise of mobile and video. Industry leaders all seemed to reach a similar conclusion by the end of the week: millennials have the ability to become our best brand ambassadors. In light of the rise of social media and the digital marketplace, refocusing marketing strategies to prioritize the millennial audience and their power to shape the relevant from the irrelevant has become the do-or-die for the modern industry. To win over such a powerful group, brands must do more than create content that is creative and authentic – though that remains a hard-and-fast rule for the millennial marketplace — they must also continue to experiment with new and different platforms, just as their millennial audiences continue to do. From there, allow the millennials to do the marketing for you, as influencer marketing becomes more and more present across all industries.
3. It would be of no surprise that technology and the future were among the dominant themes of the week, considering the top trending topics attached to the #AWNewYork hashtag included #augmentedreality, #virtualreality and #software. Of the roughly 35,000 Advertising Week related tweets throughout the week, 9 percent included #augmentedreality. But why? Throughout a large majority of panels, industry leaders explored how marketers who adopt a forward-facing approach will likely see the best results with their audiences compared to marketers who simply rely on demonstrating what they’ve done before. The need for future-looking in marketing speaks to the rapidly changing industry, one where innovative technologies, like augmented reality and virtual reality, have become the new industry reality. The emergence of data as a reliable tool for successful campaigning and the blending of marketing with technology each offer a glimpse at where the industry will likely head. Sessions like “The Virtual Reality Audience Explain” disclosed that first hand, as leaders in virtual reality demonstrated the power for VR to reach and engage new consumers with greater relevance and personalization.