Sam Brereton, Client Director of Posterscope UK, writes feature article for NYC’s Adweek 2015
October 9, 2015  //  By:   //  Recent News  //  No Comment



Advertising Week 2015 NYC: Targeting the Micro-Moment, Programmatic Planning and a Cross Dressing Robot

By: Sam Brereton, Client Director at Posterscope

It’s Monday morning and Times Square is buzzing – but this time it is not just filled with tourists. 1,000s flock to the many events in the area for the start of Advertising Week USA. AdWeek USA proves Americans don’t do things by halves – it’s like AdWeek Europe on steroids.

Now in its 12th year, it operates as a well-oiled machine as brands vie for the attention of marketers with freebies, parties and even job offers (check out MECs ‘Live Hire’ event). It’s almost four times the attendance of AdWeek Europe and nearly 1,000 speakers make up the eclectic and highly entertaining four day schedule. Although the programme is busier than its European counterpart, the hot topics and buzz words draw close parallels to our market.

Unsurprisingly, the big tech companies start the week with new announcements. Google launched Customer Match, which offers advertisers the ability to upload email lists of valuable customers and have these matched to consumers who are signed into Google platforms eg. Gmail, YouTube and Search. This is all part of Googles aim to target “consumers in the micro-moment.” YouTube announced it would make ads shoppable, and Facebook announced its new buying platform of TRPs (Target Ratings Points), which aims to make it easier for TV buyers to plan, buy and measure Facebook ads.

What does this mean for OOH? Google knows better than most when it comes to the value of relevance and personalisation, and this is a move to create deeper connections with consumers in the right moment. With 60% of internet time being spent on mobile in the UK, this ‘moment’ could very well be happening OOH. New OOH data and mobile partnerships as well as real time DOOH capabilities allow us to tap into this micro-moment like never before. We should closely monitor how the consumer responds to and interacts with this type of personalisation to ensure we can find the right balance to capitalise on this with OOH media.

As quoted by Alex Amado, VP of Experience Marketing for Adobe ,“It’s creepy when you feel like you’ve been targeted–when it’s aggressively personalized, is when it’s not of use to the user.”

So with OOH, we must ensure we create personalisation in a positive way. Utilising the mobile interface is one way to have a one to one conversation with consumers while they are OOH. YouTube’s push towards shoppable ads across the board is a nod to consumer’s expectations for immediacy. OOH and Mobile get closer to the point of purchase than any other media and shoppable OOH ads are very much possible today. With the proliferation of contactless technology, it becomes even more likely to increase this coming year. New technology will allow us to speed up the process from consideration to purchase with OOH media, and therefore could be an area to watch for retail clients.

Facebook’s launch of TRP buying seems to be an aggressive move to target lucrative TV budgets. TV spend is still higher that Digital in the U.S., and thus provides a golden opportunity for Facebook to increase profits. In the UK, digital this year will reach over 50% of all ad spend, with digital providers proceeding to target traditional media budgets. Is this a threat to OOH? I think quite the opposite. £65 million is being invested by OOH media owners into DOOH this year and networks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Its highly likely cross platform/media digital approaches will become much more prevalent moving forward and the OOH industry is in a strong position to take advantage of this.

Content and Data were once again huge areas of focus across the four days, but given they are so well documented, I decided to focus my attention on two alternative areas of interest. The first, which is timely for the UK OOH market, is programmatic. The second is just really cool, albeit scary; artificial intelligence:

Programmatic: Consisting of a whole three day schedule of events, the ’OMAA Programmatic Display’ was dedicated to exploring the future of programmatic under the headline topic: From Automation To Storytelling: Solving For Display. Programmatic is a huge focus in the USA and there is a real push to extend this beyond the realms of online into more traditional formats such as TV and OOH. Although in its infancy, OOH and TV are already traded programmatically in the US and budgets allocated to this area are set to grow hugely across the board.

With the addition of new media in the programmatic space, the need for greater cross platform integration rises. There was much debate over whether Omnichannel planning is the way forward. And, although still a fair way off becoming the norm, the general consensus was that type of approach will be needed in the future. As we are on the cusp of launching programmatic OOH in the UK, lessons from the USA point to the crucial need for collaboration with this movement to be spearheaded by OOH and digital specialists alike. OOH planners need to quickly equip ourselves with the skills and knowledge required to earn a seat at the programmatic table.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): The final area of focus, and probably the most interesting was a talk from Yasuharu Sasaki, Executive Creative Director at Dentsu entitled “Will AI Disrupt Creativity Produced by Humans?” Many have predicted when the singularity will come. Some say 2030, some 2045 – either way, the thought that AI will surpass the human brain is worrying! In an industry where creativity and innovation is what we do, Sasaki’s hypothesising on whether our jobs will still be needed or whether human creativity will become redundant, most certainly had the room’s attention. The good news: Sasaki predicts human creativity will still very much be needed in the future. But, it comes with a warning – robots will soon become incredibly powerful and will be able to learn human creativity so they will likely beat our ‘mediocre’ ideas. But, so long as we up our game and strengthen our creativity, we will be needed long into the future – after all only human creativity can create new innovations.

Denstu is developing some fascinating AI projects in Japan. One in particular, Pepper, a robot whose sole purpose is to communicate with and entertain humans. It can be purchased for a mere £1,050. Pepper has been bought for personal use as well as commercial, becoming the world’s first robot to work in a Tokyo Bank. They have also created a number of products for marketing purposes. Matsukoroid was an AI robot ‘double’ created to look and behave exactly like a famous cross-dressing talk show host in Japan. At a cost of around £55k to produce, this stunt created huge amounts of PR and an impressive ROI. IBM Watsons ‘Chef Watson is another example of marketing-related AI, where the supercomputer learns and creates crazy recipes that the human brain may never have thought of, eg. chocolate sushi.

So, what does this mean for OOH? Posterscope is already exploring AI in posters in the UK with a recent launch of a DOOH site, that could learn and adapt to human responses – this allows for greater efficiencies in serving relevant content. But what next? Dentsu is exploring the emotional side of AI, and this is something that could have fascinating applications in media. In a time where connecting with the consumer on a personal level is something many marketers are striving for, could we build AI into digital screens or experiential events that could actually interact with consumers on an emotional level, giving them a positive, but completely individual experience? This is all technically possible today. But the question is, are UK consumers ready for this type of innovation?

My final thought: Advertising Week has just announced the launch of Advertising Week Asia 2016. When it comes to adopting these types of technologies, the UK are years behind Asia. But, it won’t be long until some of the ‘less crazy’ ones appear on our shores. I predict AdWeek Asia will be a conference like no other – where you will see these new technologies and their applications to media first hand. If you are lucky enough to get to AdWeek Asia, I’m confident it will blow your mind!

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