#AWNewYork2016 – Understanding the Consumer

October 13, 2016 — by Amarita Bansal    

This byline originally appeared on IBM’s THINK Marketing.

At last week’s 13th Annual Advertising Week, industry leaders came by the masses to New York City—the world’s media capital—to inspire and share insights on the future of advertising to fellow marketing and communications professionals.

I managed to catch the tail end of the four-day conference last Thursday, never having gone to one since my foray into marketing for the technology space. As a former journalist turned content marketer, I was curious to see how my job as a storyteller would differ now that I create content for a technology company. Turns out, not so much. Here’s why.

From panels discussing the future of video to digital advertising for the post-website era, one key theme prevailed— know your audience. More often than not, marketers are more concerned about the ROI and generating X amount of leads, and rightly so, but the heart of what our consumers are looking for in a piece of content tends to get overlooked. The same approach applies to storytelling in the newsroom. WHY should an audience CARE about the news? Is it relevant? Does it impact their lives in any way? It’s simple. The more you tap into people’s emotions, the more likely you are to drive engagement.

As Alex Hunt, President, The Americas at BrainJuicer and Laura Salant, Senior Director, Research and Insights at Undertone said during the session Key Metrics to Guide Your Advertising Creative: What You Need to Know Right Now, that’s how you can quantify creative. “Emotion builds brands. Emotion drives engagement. The more you feel, the more you buy.”

In the session The Future of Video, the panel discussed how ad blocking has provoked the right type of behavior. Rather than peppering consumers with all kinds of ads and seeing what sticks, create better advertising experiences for them. What was notable for me was when they touched upon the theory of getting away from traditional marketing apparatuses and offering up something which reflects the consumers’ behavior.

For example, Snapchat encourages advertisers to shoot vertical video, which has traditionally been a huge no-no when producing video content. But in a fast-moving digital world, consumer habits have changed, so how you deliver content has to change along with the shifting tide. According to Snapchat, vertical video ads are watched on the mobile app all the way through nine times more than horizontal video ads. This would never have been the case even a few years ago!

The key takeaway from the day’s summit was clear. What’s good for consumers is also good for marketers, and understanding how we as humans engage with content—whether it’s an ad, an eBook or via social—is the key to meeting the customer where they are.