Cannes saw the themes of data-driven marketing and reimagining creativity once more at the forefront of many seminars and discussions. For every advocate of
machine learning, there was an evangelist for brand purpose. Here are the key themes from Cannes that stand to drive brand marketers’ growth:

MACHINE LEARNING IS EVERYWHERE:

A topic that was barely mentioned two years ago has become mainstream and is replacing human “craft skills” throughout the industry. IBM Watson was a key player in entries for categories as diverse as fashion, pharmaceutical and retail. Machine learning is clearly emerging as a key tool for ambitious brands and not just for measurement, but for planning as well.

BRAND PURPOSE: A PROVEN FORCE FOR CREATIVITY & GROWTH:

Marketers and agencies alike championed brand purpose as a means of driving world-class work and sought to prove that it delivers concrete ROI gains, not just a marketing team that feels good about itself. The big stories surrounding brand purpose came with pounds, dollars and euros attached. Marketing leaders argued that brands with purpose were growing up to 50% faster than those without.

TARGETING NOW A MAINSTAGE ISSUE:

Facebook claims an average 3.5x uplift from deploying targeted dynamic personalization. Stanford identified microsegmentation in social media as pivotal to Brexit and Trump teams winning their political social media battles and ultimately the end goals. Accelerated brand growth requires a balance of broad communications that set a brand in culture complemented by a segment-driven approach that seeks to personalize the story.

CONTENT IS KING BUT CONTEXT IS KING KONG:

We saw many speakers exploring the importance of context and a flight to quality environments as a counterweight to the march of targeting and automation. Evidence to support this could be seen in the WARC Top 100 Campaigns of 2016, as well as in a brilliant session from neuro-scientist Beau Lotto, who argued that without a full appreciation of context, all data is meaningless. The trend is for fast growing brands to care more deeply about cultural and media contexts, a swing back from a commodity audience-driven approach.

Author: Sean Healy, Global Head of Strategy & Product, Zenith