Cannes Do

Brands are taking the time to understand and invest in the tools they need to maximise the power of mobile, says Phunware VP advertising strategy Jon Hook, after spending a week in Cannes for the Lions festival

Jon HookSo there we have it, another Cannes has been and gone. And the good news – aside from the soaring profits if you have shares in a rosé vineyard – is that all parties are investing heavily in mobile, be they publishers, brands or agencies.

That money is being particularly targeted at mobile technology and infrastructure. Its not all quite to the tune of Amazons $2bn investment into their Indian business to cope with mCommerce demand from their consumers, but a significant shift in mindset has occurred.

Rather than planning and thinking desktop-to-mobile – simply extending desktop experiences to mobile and making them “accessible on mobile” – brands are now building their infrastructure, sites and content mobile-out. Some brands are already thinking mobile-only, and preparing for a life post-desktop.

The headlines from this week are a clear indication of where our industry is going: “ad tech is taking over” and “the cloud marketing platforms are here”. The same is true of the multiple product announcements addressing the executional aspect of digital advertising: viewability, ad fraud and brand safety.

The WPP, Daily Mail and SnapChat joint venture, Truffle Pig, is another clear endorsement of how mobile has fundamentally changed the partners that brands now need to help them navigate the world of marketing. For Truffle Pig, the hook is native advertising, but what we are talking about here is an entire generation of consumers who no longer conform to the planning models that have served traditional media for so long.

One of the top questions from brand marketers at this year’s festival has been where they should be placing their mobile bets for next year, and where do they draw the line between technology, data and content. In fact, should we even be drawing a line?

These are all great questions. According to Econsultancy and Adobe, 20 per cent of EMEA marketers don’t have a mobile strategy, while 46 per cent are currently defining theirs. I’m not advocating short-termism as a sensible strategy, but given that 66 per cent of EMEA marketers don’t have a defined mobile strategy, a clear priority should be putting some short-term priorities in place.

First, ensure you have the data you need from your business about your customers – how are they consuming your products, services, content – in store, online and (if you have one) in-app.

Second, update your existing audience profiles to help you answer key questions. Where can our brand add value or assistance? Where and how can we be relevant?

Only once you have dealt with these first two can you understand which mobile technologies to pilot. Tesco, John Lewis, Walgreens, Virgin Atlantic and McDonald’s are all testing various mobile technologies to understand if these additional services are something that the consumer wants, and whether they will deliver additional value to the business, be it consumer data or revenue.

So the question is about drawing lines between technology, data and content initiatives. Its more about understanding how each one informs and enhances the other, and how technology connects all of the platforms, devices and wearables in real-time.

However, the general consensus amongst agency executives at Cannes was that data is now sitting at the top of the planning cycles rather than an afterthought, and very much shapes both the platform the campaign will run on and the content.

But what about publishers and specifically the premium publishers of this world? They have survived platform changes before, but too many brands are just not seen as being as sexy as the mobile royalty publishers and apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. If tech, data and content are the digital currency we now trade on, surely some of the premium publishers are in pole position to help drive the mobile agenda.

What they are quietly evaluating are the capabilities of the SSPs to effectively monetize their inventory and audience data. Having hundreds of integrations with demand partners does not equate to a genuine understanding of the advertisers’ business, broader campaign objectives and consumer behaviours.

Too often programmatic buying on the demand side sits very much at the executional stage of campaign, where it’s a shoot-out in the exchanges to find your consumer with all the required data points, e.g. location. It’s often the same old environment play, the only change to days-gone-by is that the fax machine and paper IO have now gone.

There are certainly some exciting advancements in the areas of ad verification and the topic of the moment, ad blocking, but let’s not forget the fundamentals in all this. Or indeed the context of the same challenges that exist on desktop – for example, the 28 per cent of desktop users who delete first-party cookies, according to Comscore, or the 144m people regularly using ad blocking software on desktop, according to a report by PageFair.

So what lies ahead, in the months post-Cannes? Opportunity and lots of it. I’m expecting to see more brand and agencies strike more global and strategic alliances with mobile partners that focus on the licencing/building of their SaaS based platforms to help enable much deeper and richer audience profiles.

It could be integrations into CRM or applications. It could be feeding live data into comms planning tools to transform static audience data, into the desired “real-time” audience planning that is required for our mobile world.

I’m not holding out hope to see a Mobile Lion in 2016 for the “most creative use of a UID” or “ best use of wearable technology”. However, what we will see at Cannes 2016 is the next wave of transformational marketers, agencies and companies who are helping pioneer the new marketing ecosystem with mobile its in DNA.

Jon Hook is VP, advertising strategy, at Phunware