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ARTICLE

Attending Cannes for the First Time During a Season of Change

May 24, 2018 — by Karen Chan

In just under a month, I’ll descend upon the French Riviera with tens of thousands of other digital marketing professionals, all hoping to be inspired, connect with clients and partners, and network in a gorgeous setting. As the Director of MediaMath’s Emerging Channels, I’m stoked to talk about the innovations unveiling in the industry from both a creative and technical perspective. But if I’m to be honest, I’m also excited to attend Cannes to participate in a dialogue about the challenges that have plagued us these last few years. From women in tech to consumer mistrust of advertising, there has never before been a time when there are huge, thorny issues that we can all come together to help solve, on the ground.

Making marketing people love

First, I’m looking forward to talking to my industry colleagues about how we can make consumers love marketing again, not just by better respecting their privacy and educating on data usage, but also by designing innovative use cases for current and emerging formats.

Formats such as audio and digital out of home (DOOH) can reach consumers in new ways that are more seamless and relevant to their experience. For instance, you can engage with audio when you’re at the gym, on your drive home, or cooking dinner; DOOH, while you’re at a bus shelter, touring Times Square, or the streets of cities like London. These media channels are weaving into the fabric of your life, not the other way around. And the data backs this up. People are 41 percent more receptive to advertising in public places than at home (Tume + IPG Media Lab, 2014). Plus, most DOOH placements have almost zero fraud and 100-percent viewable. I can’t wait to see the different DOOH activations advertisers will reveal at Cannes—everyone ups their game to put ads out in the area.

It’s time to talk

As a woman in tech, I have navigated my fair share of hurdles to get to where I am. I’m encouraged that more women (and men!) are coming together to evolve the dialogue on what it takes to make sure we are represented, promoted and treated fairly in the industry. From MediaMath’s own Women in Tech group to the Time’s Up/Advertising initiative being led by high-level industry executives, we’re starting to tackle these issues. Half of the MediaMathers attending Cannes from our Product team are women—it’s fantastic to have such strong representation to show our efforts to be inclusive and buoy females within our own business.

It’s a sound time, in 2018, to explore how events like Cannes influence the conversations around not just women in the industry, but also issues around transparency, better consumer experiences, and marketing as a force for good. Cannes and other high-visibility, well-attended industry events can be a catalyst for these discussions, and for change. Cannes has lived by a “work hard, play hard” mantra, but this year, the organizers have changed things, from shortening the event to consolidating the award categories, to encourage attendees to take advantage of the actual content in addition to the cocktails and parties.

Our CEO Joe Zawadzki has said in the past that programmatic is in its “gangly adolescent” phase, and it’s clear that events like Cannes are trying to mature along with the industry at large. Now people want to go for meetings and networking, and you must show up with a value-add—whether it’s a brilliant idea, a cutting-edge product, or a strategic partnership proposal. The conversations will evolve, this year and every year after. I’m happy to be a marketer in this season of change to witness the transformation in person.