What We Learnt at Cannes

04/07/2017

Let’s talk Cannes, and what people are now describing as ‘Silicon Valley by South of France’. We kept our notebooks on hand throughout the week to record the latest industry developments, and here are a few of our key takeaways:
 
1. The clean-up of the supply chain is happening quickly

 Ad fraud is top of the agenda, thanks to client pressure. So online buying platforms have put the time into de-duping bid requests and networks are more at risk, with buying platforms and publishers cutting them away. The supply chains are quickly decreasing, meaning publishers make more share of the CPM and buyers get the transparency they deserve; win-win.
  
2. Transparency is here and talking about viewability is ‘so 2015’

 We are seeing transparent programmatic platforms become more commonplace across agencies. But the debate now is whether we need to go deeper? This issue is about more than just reporting on where a brand’s dollars were spent. We still need better transparency in supply exchange deals, and on supply selection coming into a buying platform (why should we select not to buy non-viewable inventory – you wouldn’t have to ask JCDecaux to hold off a buy on one of their screens if it was facing a wall, would you?). Clients also need transparency on when agencies should hold back on spending the budget (if an IO is signed off at £30k, you’ll struggle to find a company that doesn’t spend the full amount – was this the right thing given we can report in real-time through the campaign flight?).
 
3. Have we reach peak Cannes ad tech?

 It’s now very hard to find a technology company that doesn’t tell you that their proprietary AI is changing the shape of the industry. The ad-tech dominance of Cannes seemed to reach a peak this year, leading many to wonder whether this is really the right venue for so much discussion on this topic. Everyone appreciates the greater marketing efficiency ad-tech delivers but we definitely picked up a craving for a return to focusing on the art, rather than the science, of marketing.
 
4. Leaving the party?

Publicis announced that it plans to stop entering Cannes and other award events, initially just for a year, declaring that it has become frustrated with the awards becoming an end in themselves rather than a result of strong work. The agency, under new CEO Arthur Sadoun, is building its own AI platform to manage the work of its global creative teams and wants to unite its people around this rather than external measures of creativity.
Cannes Lions still has a vital role in bringing people together and inspiring ad companies to produce fantastic work, but we should take note of Publicis’ concerns and make sure that schmoozing isn’t prioritised over genuine innovation.
 
You’ll notice that there is one big theme that underpins all four of these trends – developing technology and how we manage it and work with it. Plus ça change, as our hosts might say…

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