Cannes is all about the experience. If you invite your partners and clients to a yacht party, they’ll have a great time, they’ll feel looked after and leave tipsy and happy. Invite them to an intimate lunch in a nice restaurant, they’ll feel valued, special, and probably also leave tipsy and happy. Some prospects will only experience Cannes remotely, online from their desk in their office.
All of these experiences are valuable, but they work for prospects at different points in the funnel.
For me, Cannes Lions embodies the importance of experience. Experience matters, and it affects the way we feel, and our perception of brands. This year, experience was the common theme underpinning the conversations at Cannes. Beyond events, too often advertisers, publishers and platforms forget about experience and focus on just the numbers.
Another example: two of Cannes Lions’ big 2018 awards winners was Spotify – which won Media Brand of the Year, and ‘Today at Apple’, the tech brand’s programme of in-store events. What links these two winners? Experience.
Spotify has refined its experience so that as a user I no longer need to curate my music choices, the platform has already done it for me. Apple used its large retail presence to deliver customer experiences that surprised and delighted. These are worthy award winners, because they had a vision beyond the immediate conversion, to the value of enjoyment, and longevity. We can learn from this.
Digital advertising ignored user experience for too long. By optimising on abstract metrics, the impact on internet users became too much. People were annoyed at retargeting, they were outraged at their data being treated with neglect. People felt helpless to protect their identities online. The result: GDPR and ePrivacy, a backlash against social platforms, ad blindness, ad blocking, brand safety… all-in-all, a general distaste for online advertising. The fall-out of this dominated the conversations at Cannes this year.
If we had focussed more on delivering advertising as a natural part of the online experience, perhaps we wouldn’t be in this pickle. Video is something users want, that much is clear, but we must be considerate with how we deliver it. The rise of Outstream video advertising embodies this interruptive experience; if you’ve ever had an ad push text apart in front of your eyes you’ll know what I mean. Sound-on autoplay video is another example.
This is where context comes in. Delivering video in relevant environments gives users moving image that complements their goals. It adds to their experience. We should create an advertising eco-system that learns from the UX world, where details matter.
In the context of Cannes, a yacht party or fancy lunch works. It fits in with the environment, and people enjoy it. Marketers understand that, but we need to translate that understanding to everything we do – including the way we design online experiences. This is a collective responsibility, advertisers should consider how they buy inventory, and publishers need to think how they integrate advertising into their pages.
The brand activation at Cannes, the award winners, and the conversations were all underpinned by the concept of experience. Whether you took part in Cannes from the bow of a boat or the monitor on your desk, the real takeaway is that experience matters online, just as much an offline. If we can get experience right, we’ll get advertising right.
Kai Henniges, CEO and co-founder, Video Intelligence.