Advertising Week Europe – from web 3.0 and six seconds of story telling

Education, inspiration, connection, innovation and celebration. That is what I was told to expect when Advertising Week Europe (AWE) started on Monday and I must admit they pretty much kept to their word. There were a few things that stood out to me throughout the week most notably how we are on a slow move to Web 3.0 and the death of the TVC and rise of the six seconds of story telling.

They say every day is a school day and with lectures and seminars abound at AWE it was definitely the case. A few things I learnt were:

We are on a slow move to web 3.0, which will be a much more personalized web experience than the customized one we currently use. What this will mean is more personalized searches that give you exactly what you are looking for. A good thing in theory but in practice does this mean brands have to work that much harder to be everyone’s preference as, some will argue, the chance of choosing another will be filtered away from us?

“We are living in a world of constant unremitting, unrelenting and unforgiving exposure”

The ‘Radical Transparency’ seminar tried to understand how to operate in this world. Google explained that to survive in modern times a business must be transparent not only in the workspace but also in the way it presents itself. Google goes so far as to help its customers understand the data available with various tools. Brands are beginning to understand that the individual’s voice is amplified with social media so they must be more careful. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as there are amazing opportunities with this transparency to understand your customer better and create a closer relationship.

With leaders in their field a-plenty you couldn’t help but be inspired by the possibilities that the marriage of technology and creativity affords the advertising industry. I found myself getting excited about everything from innovative content creation to measuring Social Media ROI.

On Monday morning Trevor Beattie heralded the death of the 30s TVC in favour of just 6s story telling – anything longer was just boring. I’m not sure I agree with him. Great creative content is great no matter the length – check out this recent Pepsi max prank if you don’t agree – but it does get you thinking about what is possible in just 6 seconds…Twitter’s Vine app certainly suggests possibilities.

In the meantime social media is taking strides to prove ROI. Though first we have to understand that ROI cannot just be measured by final sales. We need to understand the bigger customer journey and social media’s influence at all touch points. A friend’s recommendation on Facebook or a discussion on a blog could all be the trigger that drives a sale.

Connection for me is one of the key themes of 2013. With topics ranging from the internet-of-things to social media we couldn’t help but see how connections are dramatically changing the World we live in and with it the advertising industry.

After the Super Bowl there had to be a talk about real-time marketing and the ‘Contagious Ideas Changing The World’ seminar delivered just that. Businesses need to find ways of being part of the conversation because consumers are connecting across the web – TV shows being a major conversation starter. X Factor tweets during Lucy Spraggan’s song Beer Fear last year is a great example. Just watch what happens when the hashtag #BeerFear is introduced.

At the WIRED NXT talk the overarching topic was Mobile. Not simply in terms of technology, but from a social point of view and how brands need to adopt a smarter way of engaging with their consumers at a personal level.

Innovation was defined by DMR as: a big idea, routed in technology (they’re tech focused) that drives sales. The modern business must always have one eye on innovation or risk getting left behind. But unfortunately many of these innovative ideas fail (just look at Apple’s rather large rubbish dump) and some brands don’t have the money to fail too often. So how do you know which innovation (or start up) to back? Once again it all goes back to the consumer. Focus on the consumer and you can’t go far wrong.

Advertising Week Europe has been a great opportunity to celebrate the breakthroughs in technology and creativity. Therefore it was interesting to listen to Simon White, our very own European Chief Planning Officer, explain how our industry should learn more from studies published by academics and neuroscientists on the ‘Science of Desire’. With 40-90% of product launches failing despite months of research leading up to them, what can we learn from what should have been considered as ‘sure-fire’ campaigns? The answer, he argued, was in the way we approach advertising. We still cling too hard to old models and focus too much on the pilot part of the brain – the rational part – and not enough on the autopilot part – the emotional part – that drives most of our decisions. To find out more watch the Q&A here.

In the end, Advertising Week was not just about the after party, where, from the evidence on Facebook, it seems I celebrated a little too much.

Dan West is innovation manager at Draftfcb UK.