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Cannes Lions – playground of the creatives – is an illustrious celebration of industry innovation and illuminating ideas. So how does technology fit into the festival mix?

The organisers  are ahead of the curve. This year’s event includes the new Innovation Festival that recognises the mind-blowing technology and data behind some of the world’s most creative ideas.

So why are some traditionalists concerned that increased discussions around programmatic, data and social networks – at an event renowned for creativity and innovation – could overshadow the true essence of the festival?

Critics of the new status quo at Cannes would do well to heed the advice of the enigmatic Don Draper from Mad Men, “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.”

The technological tools available to today’s marketers would be as unimaginable to the Madison Avenue advertising executives of the 1960s as an iPhone or smartwatch – but the sentiment still holds true. Instead of focusing on how automation is the antitheses of everything the advertising industry stands for, attendees should consider how new developments in advertising technology can actually drive creativity and innovation.

In Draper’s world of limited communication channels and a linear path to purchase, it was possible to deliver effective marketing via manual processes – but this is no longer the case. Better connected consumers and an avalanche of audience data available from consumer touchpoints and advertising impressions across numerous devices and channels, makes analysis and delivery of data on this scale is beyond human capabilities.

Programmatic technology and sophisticated attribution algorithms can provide granular data that enables advertisers to overcome the challenges of scale and gain deeper insights into what works, what doesn’t – and why. Advanced algorithms mine all the data – both online and offline – to uncover the precise combinations of audience, media, creative, and message that will best achieve the desired outcomes specific to an advertiser’s business needs, and automatically execute the buying, in real-time, across multiple digital channels.

Dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) is the perfect example of technology and creativity working hand-in-hand. It allows the most relevant creative elements to be selected and combined in real-time. This produces a personalised ad for each consumer based on decisioning points such as gender, location, weather and previous interactions. The creative and media sides of the house collaborate to come up with innovative ways to connect with the consumer – translating into smarter, more timely and impactful marketing.

We can’t be sure what Don Draper would make of the ad tech-branded cabanas along Cannes’ Boulevard de la Croisette, although we’re sure he would enjoy the yacht-based networking events and cocktail parties. What is clear is that the time has come to follow his advice and change the Cannes conversation from whether technology spells the end of creative imagination, to how it can drive creativity and innovation across an evermore-complex media landscape.

Dave Reed, managing director EMEA, MediaMath