Darren Goldie, Managing Partner, Havas Media Group Consulting
 reflects on Cannes 2015

CannesPicJust as the beaches of Cannes vary depending on how far you venture from the Croisette, so too do the conversations. For the last few years one of the main topics of discussion is the ever greater presence of adtech companies at a creativity festival. As a technology gate-crasher myself, and armed with the industry-recognised white sunglasses and Panama, it was genuinely apparent that the line in the sand between all things tech and all things creative was slowly surrendering to the warm tides of Mediterranean.
Adtech companies were taking over everywhere outside the Palais. Whether it be the armada of boats at the old port, or giant ads on the front of the Carlton, nowhere it seems was safe…and it sounds like this trend is going to keep happening as I heard multiple folk promise that they’d have a boat next year; some even two boats so they can keep their valuable berth!

George Bernard Shaw once famously said: ‘progress is impossible without change and those that can’t change their minds cannot change anything’. And so it is with the media and creative community. The zenith of this collaboration was nicely summarised by a roundtable I attended around ‘creative and digital talent; how to secure the future of the industry’. It was genuinely a great turn-out with the CEOs and MDs from a number of creative, media and associate companies all agreeing that we need to find, train and organise ourselves around the next generation of multi-disciplinary candidates with a focus on attitude and talent, supported by an industry approved training scheme to link creative and tech together. That’s a good thing for me as I won’t need to keep chatting about my Art A-level qualification simply to join the sandal brigade, but it did raise the challenges of integrating an attitudinally diverse and wide-ranging community.

So in the interest of being agnostic I asked a few friends from different background for their thoughts to put the polemic on a more even keel.
One of the views was that over the past few months there has been much noise about the increasing levels of use of adblockers, plus the threat looming that mobile operators might block ads. Naturally this could have a big effect on the quantity of free content that consumers currently enjoy.

Ben Barokas believes he has the answer with Sourcepoint who will offer a number of solutions from blocking adblockers, to trying to sell access to content. With his background in adtech, and $10m of funding, this is going to be an area of the industry to watch over the next year.

One of the most interesting panels of the week was a Daily Dose, hosted by Medialink called ‘finding the unicorn’ which was about finding and retaining amazing people. The challenge that many businesses face is finding someone who crosses both creative and technology. There is no doubt that more and more media is going to programmatic where technical skills are critical, but we risk missing the opportunity by not also focusing on creative messaging

Another view was that the festival has changed a lot over the last five years, with an increased focus on the science end of marketing – the side that takes great creative and brings it to life. It’s a can’t-miss event. Technology and data can be powerful tools in any creative team’s arsenal — used right, they innovate and connect in unprecedented ways.

Our conversations are centered around helping people deliver unified, cross-screen campaigns for big improvements in engagement and ROI. Adtech has clearly taken Cannes by storm. But the conversations we’re hearing are more specifically about the ways it is being used to better connect with consumers, in a unified way across all screens and mediums. Linear television and wearable technology are two biggies.
This year’s release of the Apple Watch was a notable development in the wearable technology market. These devices are quickly going to become mainstream and publishers are already looking at ways to embrace them for advertising purposes. While the market is reasonably nascent now, it’s one we think will be a big opportunity in the future.

Finance, Automotive and Telco are all consistently very early adopters of new technologies and strategies. They are employing cross-device capabilities, social engagement, content creation and next-level creative like digital video or rich-media to very effective ends.  What do they have in common? An eye on innovation and aligning with their customers, no matter where that is.
So as the final yachts were ‘de-pimped’, spare flip flops swept away into a corner, and the remaining pairs of white glasses jetted back to Gatwick, we were left with a heightened desire for next year. The creative guys were genuinely excited about change and all things programmable and the ad tech guys had finally found an event near a Nikki beach. I for one am looking forward to it already.
(Special thanks to: Gavin Stirrat & Andrew Sloan)