Elie Khouri - Omnicom Media Group MENA
Marketing | 29.06.2015

Cannes Lions: Will you be a victim or champion of technology?

As I took my flight home from this year’s Cannes Lions, I thought about just how much the conversation has changed since my first Cannes over a decade ago. The most striking difference? The ubiquitousness of technology. There wasn’t a single seminar, panel discussion or workshop which didn’t feature technology in one way or the other.

You could say, technology is redefining our industry as we know it. Here are six key tenets that are being challenged.

Redefining ‘great’ work: Gone are the days when the ‘fame hungry’ or over-the-top creatives took home the gold. There’s a new definition of award-winning work: campaigns that are able to seamlessly marry data, technology and content get the most recognition. How are we in the Middle East responding to this new development?

Redefining talent: It couldn’t be clearer that there is a growing synergy between programmatic and creative. The challenge for our industry is to find and keep the talent capable of unlocking the potential of both. So where do we find the kind of person who can deal with the symbiosis of art and science?

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Redefining the audience: I’m weary of the talk of ‘millennials’ – we need to segment this large group further. Say hello to the ‘centennials’ (born after 1995). Centennials are piquing the interest of our industry because of the way they use technology to consume media. This explains the frenzy of interest around Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel at Cannes. Fun fact: the vertical video introduced by Snapchat has a nine times higher completion rate than horizontal video. How is that for food for thought?

Redefining the ad experience: As suggested in PHD’s recent book Sentience, artificial intelligence (AI) will soon be ubiquitous—it will have several implications for clients and agencies. We are already seeing how investments in programmatic technology is helping brands move from personalization to individualization for ads and services. Most importantly, AI will remove the three things consumers hate about advertising: clutter, irrelevance and interruption. Is your agency preparing for this?

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Redefining the industry: In addition to the usual suspects at Cannes Lions, there was an increasing number of people from the advertising technology scene. The fact that ad tech geeks are the new kids on the Cannes block is a clear signal that programmatic has arrived and its march into advertising is unabated and relentless. I can foresee their presence will grow in the years to come – and we’re so much better for it. Our industry will be able to develop significantly if we put the ‘Madison Avenue vs Silicon Valley’ mentality behind us. How much closer to Silicon Avenue have you gotten?

Redefining the opportunity: The challenge for Google and Facebook is how to connect the unconnected. Consider this: 4.2 billion people will remain offline by 2017 out of which India and Africa show the greatest potential. What’s more, we need to take a step back and look at how we can benefit from tech innovation beyond the field of advertising and marketing. We need to think critically about how to disrupt industries at large by focusing on how to better the consumer experience. The likes of Uber, Spotify and Airbnb should serve as inspiration to pursue constant and instinctive improvement in the customer journey. Have you made the mental switch already?

There can be little doubt the age of technology is finally upon us. How much bigger the tech logos at Cannes have become is ample evidence of the shift towards a more programmatic, data and artificial intelligence-driven future. We, in the industry, can choose to play victim to changing tides. Or we can take the bulls by the horns, harness the potential and even determine the fate of our industry.

I, for one, sincerely hope it is the latter.

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Elie Khouri - Omnicom Media Group MENA
Elie Khouri
Chief Executive Officer at OMG