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“The attention economy is the 100% focus”: Cannes LIONS, Day 1 round-up

Despite instability in the wider economy and a precarious geopolitical climate, Cannes LIONS returned with a flourish if the broad smiles on everyone’s faces were any guide. Sunshine and glittering blue seas aside, the optimism was palpable, reflected by a total of 25,464 entries from 87 countries competing to become the global benchmark for creativity and effectiveness.

According to GroupM, the optimism isn’t misplaced – the media giant’s mid-year forecast released last week was peppered with high hopes for the next twelve months and that “there is still ample room for advertising growth and for adaptable marketers to succeed…..we don’t see a perilous economic state”.

We now expect advertising to grow by 8.4%, slightly lower than the forecast we gave in December 2021. (However) most marketers are still adding to their media budgets in 2022

GroupM, Mid Year Forecast 2022

Whether GroupM’s predictions turn out to be correct or brutally wide of the mark, it’s a bold call, and either way has immense ramifications for most publishers who still rely on advertising revenue as a key revenue pillar.

Attention Economy gaining importance

On the first day of Cannes, a key theme was the ‘attention economy’ which is adspeak for how brands can cut through the clutter at a time of ubiquitous content – attention is now the single limiting factor in the consumption of information. Paul Coggins, CEO and Founder of Adludio told us that Cannes conversations were very much “anchored” around the topic especially as advertisers “will soon face a reality with no third-party cookies to target consumers”.

The buy-side of programmatic is out searching for new, anonymised metrics and technologies that can be used at scale for their campaigns, with different tech vendors battling to present their own solution to this problem. Cannes will help reveal which route the industry is likely to take, but I can guarantee consumer attention will lay centrally at the heart of it.”

Paul Coggins, CEO and Founder of Adludio

The theme was taken up by Peter Cunha, VP of Marketplace Strategy at publisher technology platform, Sovrn who said that “attention as a metric is viewability on steroids”, pointing publishers to Sovrn’s ebook “Capturing the Signals: How Reader Attention Can Drive More Revenue” as a guide for proving the true value of an audience through deep engagement insights. Cunha added, “Providing a buyer with analytics on how scaled audiences engaged and interacted with their creative is a powerful tool.”

Publishers who can deliver to buyers clear attention signals that indicate high levels of reader engagement result in high attention campaigns that use less impressions to deliver the same outcomes.

Jeff Meglio, VP of Demand, Sovrn

As if to underline the point, French ad giant, Havas Media Group, announced this month a global partnership with attention firm Lumen Research to create tools that enable media optimization around attention metrics. According to Havas, the goal is to “to deliver engagement levels of between three and 10 times effectiveness” and then grow its own proprietary database around attention.

New York Times argues the case for alignment

Fresh from listening to Tom Armstrong, VP of Global Advertising, New York Times, speak at FIPP’s World Media Congress in Cascais – where the NYT revealed its ‘Fewer, Bigger, Better strategy’ which involves displaying fewer ads placed in better positions and in larger formats – we went to listen to David Rubin, Chief Marketing Officer, NYT speak at the ‘CMOs in the spotlight’ event alongside Gail Peterson of Ecolab and Michelle St Jacques of Molson Coors.

Rubin emphasized the need for a publishing brand to be joined up and aligned across every facet of its activities: mission, brand, business and product, before warning attendees that when things go wrong, brands make the mistake of looking at the short-term instead of focusing on the bigger picture.

Rubin advised publishers that in today’s economic climate, truth is paramount and that needs to be aligned across every customer touchpoint, “the idea that you can communicate in different ways is not viable in modern marketing”.

If your marketing is not true it won’t last very long, people will see through it.

David Rubin, CMO, New York Times

As if to underline the need for honesty and truth, we subsequently talked to Jeffrey L. Bowman, CEO of Reframe in New York, who argued that the case for DEI – which was touched upon at the session – is meaningless without deep, profound organizational change that runs through an entire business.

DEI will not be enough to save corporations or Madison Avenue – it requires deep, profound, organizational change.

Jeffrey L. Bowman, CEO, Reframe

Shutterstock targeting Gen Z, and this is why

We subsequently went to meet Jamie Elden, CRO of Shutterstock, for a look at what one of the world’s largest picture libraries is advocating as the future. Following a raft of recent acquisitions, Elden’s reply was unequivocal, “the new generation aren’t interested in print, nor dot com websites, instead they are interacting on social media as their primary vehicle for communication. These audiences don’t look at the brand, they look at the story.”

If you’re not connected to the ways in which the younger generation are connecting, you’re history, you’re out in thirty seconds.

Jamie Elden, CRO, Shutterstock

Elden then explained that for a company like Shutterstock, it was vital that they moved into those areas that were attracting the attention of the next generation, “We have to look to the future of imagery for publishers and that’s 3D, AR, Metaverse, NFT’s and VR. It’s also imperative that we demystify these technologies so publishers can harness them.”

Juan Senor, “publishers should be here”

Juan Senor of Innovation Consulting, one of the world’s leading media consultants, and also the main host of Cannes LIONS, told us why publishers should attend the event, which is ostensibly an advertising creative showcase. His view? “Cannes is a window to the future and the place where many of the new technologies will be unveiled and trialed. Some will fail, just like Google Glass a few years ago, but some will succeed and they need to be on a publisher’s radar.”

Snap’s Evan Spiegel “5Bn snaps are created every day”

Our final session of the day saw us attend Axios’ Sara Fischer interview with Snapchat’s French-American Co-Founder and CEO Evan Spiegel. The session centred on Snapchat’s roadmap for the future with Spiegel saying that although Snapchat sees 5Bn new ‘snaps’ on its platform each day, it is now seeing 250M augmented reality snaps per day.

The place to look for growth in the next ten years is augmented reality

Evan Spiegel, CEO, Snapchat
Evan Spiegel, Snapchat; Sara Fischer, Axios

Spiegel also went on to tell the assembled crowd that Snap “won’t allow individual targeting, and instead will only use aggregated data so as not to compromise individuals’ privacy – aggregated data is a big part of the future for everyone”

There is a lot to learn from the European GDPR framework which was really thoughtful and consultative. We’re very supportive of these efforts.

Evan Spiegel, CEO, Snapchat

Final thought for the day

Whilst the first day of Cannes could best be described as ‘hot’ and ‘very busy’, the final word should go to Peter Houston of Media Voices who, referring to a tweet by Benedict Evans, told us that, “Amazon’s advertising revenues are greater than the entire global newspaper industry. That’s really scary and something to reflect on.”