Cannes Lions 2015 is over, and what is agreed throughout the industry is that ad tech presented an unprecedented profile at this year’s event. In this piece, Emma Williams, MediaMath, Senior Director, Regional Marketing, EMEA, APAC & LATAM, offers her five key takeaways from the event.

Amidst the networking, rosé and celebrity guests, important industry discussions are taking place in the South of France. So, what exactly is the gossip from this year’s Cannes Lions festival?

The shifting ad tech focus

Once kept on the fringe of the festival, this year’s event has seen ad tech companies take a central role. The sheer volume of ad tech yachts and cabanas lining La Croisette is a testament to the importance of Cannes Lions for ad industry players. However, this development isn’t about ad tech taking over the festival and pushing creativity aside. The industry is recognising that advertising is becoming digital, and data is increasingly being used to inform creative decisions and unlock potential. For us at MediaMath, Cannes Lions is a vital opportunity to contribute to the industry dialogues taking place.

Data and creativity

The realisation that data and creativity can no longer exist in silos has prompted much debate this week, as has the new Creative Data Lions category. Creative agencies are realising that data empowers them with detailed consumer insights, which they can utilise to create more personal, targeted, and engaging content. The benefits of programmatic are also being widely discussed, particularly how programmatic enables marketers to quickly learn and respond to these data-driven insights. In a fragmented media landscape where brands are desperately contending for consumer attention, the collaboration of data and creativity presents exciting opportunities.

The Internet of Things

Considering 90% of the world’s data has been created in the past two years alone, many marketers are contemplating what the next year will hold for data-driven insights. Panel and speaker sessions are predicting that a surge of granular, real-time data from the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable technologies will transform the way brands interact with consumers. With evermore opportunities to understand and predict consumer behaviour at a deeper level, marketers will be able to interact with consumers in a hyper-personalised manner.

Battling ad fraud

The topical industry issue of ad fraud and its prevention is being widely discussed this week. By mimicking the behaviour of legitimate consumers, fraudulent bots are causing billions of wasted impressions. Today’s bots are so sophisticated that some may even be retargeted. Delegates at Cannes Lions understand that the prevention of ad fraud is critical to the success of the ecosystem as a whole, but marketers have a difficult journey ahead when it comes to protecting themselves and their brands. Reducing the threat requires the industry to take a collaborative stand.

Girl power

A new award – the Glass Lion – has put gender firmly on the agenda at Cannes Lions. Launched by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and her organisation, Lean In, the award recognises ads that tackle the issue of gender inequality. The Glass Lion was awarded to P&G Whisper’s ‘Touch the Pickle’ campaign. Leo Burnett’s ‘#Likeagirl’ and FCB Inferno’s ‘This Girl Can’ campaign for Sport England also picked up awards.

Advertising has the potential to influence culture, and it’s exciting to see creative advertising content disrupting longstanding gender stereotypes. The new award is also encouraging some much needed industry reflection. While we have evolved leagues from the Mad Men era, women in ad tech still remain scarce. Just 11% of all winners of industry-wide creative director awards last year were women.


Read on ExchangeWire