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Ad Tech Around the World: VidCon & Cannes Recap

by Andreas Goeldi | Chief Technology Officer

Read Time: 10 mins

Last week, the advertising industry descended upon the South of France for the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, and halfway around the world, creators, fans and ad industry execs converged at VidCon. Both events serve as a barometer for online video and ad tech, with announcements and panels that gauge where the industry at large is headed.

At Cannes, Founder and CEO Bettina Hein moderated a panel on storytelling and creativity with Brand Innovators, where she was joined by executives from Tribal Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Nokia, and Zenith. She also co-hosted a conversation with She Runs It and female executives from Outfront Media, Google Brand Lab, and Shazam on connecting with GenZ consumers and empowering the next generation of female leaders. At VidCon, Pixability VP of Customer Success Jackie Swansburg Paulino spoke on YouTube’s stage alongside executives from Tubular Labs and Ogilvy to discuss how marketers can identify actionable insights from YouTube trends.

Here’s what Pixability’s teams took away from each event:

Cannes

The largest video platforms dominated prime beachfront property, while ad tech firms commanded the majority of yachts in the harbor. Interestingly, large consulting companies that offer marketing services (e.g., IBM, Accenture, PwC, Deloitte) were well represented at Cannes this year, indicating that these firms have clearly entered the advertising business.

The Grand Prix for flashiest marketing strategy went to Snapchat for parking a giant yellow ferris wheel in front of the festival palace — meanwhile, its advertiser-facing events were kept under wraps, signalling exclusivity to the platform’s paying customers.

Many top agency, brand, and platform executives were in attendance for both speaking engagements and to make deals, including Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, Samsung CMO Marc Mathieu — even Snap, Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel was rumored to be there. But it seems the increased focus on tech has caused a rift between those attending Cannes for the awards, and those who visit to network aboard the ad tech flotilla. Arthur Sadoun, Publicis Groupe CEO, made waves with his announcement that Publicis will not participate in Cannes Lions next year, instead investing its time and money in its artificial intelligence technology.

Throughout the week, agency execs called on Google and Facebook to provide more transparency and supply marketers with more campaign and audience data. There was also a deeper focus on purpose-driven marketing, particularly around gender equality, with four Titanium Lions going to campaigns that advocate for women, refugees, and voting rights. However, as Bettina Hein pointed out in her panel with She Runs It, that advertisers should hone in on authenticity in purpose-driven marketing, as audiences can quickly detect whether a brand’s message is meaningful.

VidCon

At the Anaheim Convention Center, diehard fans lined up around the block to take a selfie with their favorite creators. YouTube heavily promoted its slate of premium content (previously revealed at Brandcast), featuring original shows hosted by celebrities like Kevin Hart, Ellen DeGeneres, and Ludacris. Diverging from its subscriber-based YouTube Red strategy, YouTube Originals will be free to view, but supported by advertising.

YouTube underscored its commitment to brand safety, while balancing creator demands for channel monetization. The platform has pledged to boost the number of people screening for undesirable content, while simultaneously providing additional support for creators, and rolling out additional monetization products, such as Super Chat and merchandising.

This year, VidCon was all about inclusion. YouTube highlighted diversity on the platform, from race and ethnicity to sexual orientation and body type, and showcased the sense of community that YouTube provides to people around the world.

On the YouTube stage, VP of Customer Success Jackie Swansburg Paulino discussed how advertisers can incorporate YouTube trends into their marketing strategies, specifically by focusing on emerging trends throughout the campaign process, from content planning to media buying.

Both Cannes and VidCon underscored the increasing focus on transparency between platforms and marketers — combined with an overarching commitment to diversity and inclusion, both events signaled that the industry is evolving in the right direction. However, it remains to be seen if Cannes will continue to hold its weight in 2018, given Publicis’ withdrawal, and rumors that other holding companies may follow suit.

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Andreas Goeldi is Pixability's Chief Technology Officer. An experienced Internet technologist and online marketing expert with a passion for film and video, Andreas has worked in online marketing since the early days of the Internet.