5 Key Takeaways from Cannes | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

5 Key Takeaways from Cannes

By Anthony Gonsalves

It has been said by many that Cannes is "the same folks you can meet with in New York, just in a fancy location." This year, that wasn't quite true. While we often see major partners, prospects and frenemies sipping rosé in pastel and linen outfits, this year was more about giving the entire industry an opportunity to learn about the shared and unique challenges across markets and disciplines while taking action to solve them.

Everyone comes to Cannes with a different mindset than they do at a traditional conference. Yes, we are all in the south of France hoping to grow our personal slice of the pie, but the level of openness to collaboration is the highest of any event I've seen. I left Cannes this year with a few key takeaways after many conversations about how to ensure long term, sustained, and impactful growth not just for Connatix and our partners, but for the entire industry. Let's break them down:

1. AI isn't coming for your job, but it can have a practical role in advertising and media.
While there has been a lot of panic about the impact of AI on the industry over the past few months, the discussions at Cannes were a lot more practical. From newsrooms leveraging AI to comb through millions of data points to get a unique stat for a story to buyers leveraging machine learning to optimize campaigns and maximize spend, it seemed that everyone was talking about the tactical ways AI will advance the industry.

It's obvious that using AI to replace humans, especially for creative work, is a far ways away (we've all seen the terrifying AI-generated beer commercial), but when advanced technology is paired with a human's creative and strategic touch we are all able to achieve better results.

2. Cookieless targeting is more necessary than ever.
Privacy was a hot topic up and down the Croisette, especially in the context of targeting. With companies like Apple already cracking down on tracking on Safari and iOS, and with Google's final deadline for cookie deprecation quickly approaching, advertisers are taking cookieless solutions more seriously. Contextual targeting is nothing like the early days of the internet. There are now advanced technologies that deliver contextual insights on both the page and media level to not only reach audiences, but greatly scale campaigns.

It also became clear that navigating the post-cookie world will take cross-industry collaboration, with publishers leveraging first-party data, advertisers understanding audiences, and first- and second-party data vendors entering the fold with unique partnerships across the ecosystem to change the future of buying.

3. Thoughtful and meaningful revenue delivery to trusted news sources is top of mind.
More and more brands are dedicating budget toward minority owned media outlets and taking a more thoughtful approach to media spend. This is an incredible step forward in creating a more equitable ecosystem and will only continue to increase as the industry adopts new standards for identifying these outlets and scaling campaigns. But it's not only about spending with minority owned publications, it's also about providing equitable access to content for all readers. Access to content relies on the value exchange – readers understand that they may need to watch an ad to continue accessing information for free.

This is incredibly important for news publishers that are dedicated to delivering high quality, trusted journalism, but are usually the first category to experience spending cuts through blocklists especially in times of crisis. There are always going to be brand safety concerns around news, but as contextual technology advances, buyers can feel more comfortable about spending on trusted, high-quality journalism by blocking specific keywords on the media and page level instead of broad domains.

4. Great content is nothing without an audience.
Cannes is a celebration of the most innovative, empowering, and emotional creative work of the year, and it was inspiring to see the projects that were honored. But after watching an award-winning campaign or chatting with a content creator on one of the many influencer-focused beach setups, one thing became abundantly clear: There needs to be just as much focus on creating amazing video content as there is on putting it in the right hands.

Publishers are facing slashed budgets and have had to say goodbye to beloved colleagues, but despite operating with less they are still expected to produce more. And it's the same on the advertiser's side, as buyers are expected to achieve the same ROI despite lower budgets to spend. This is creating an opportunity for trusted partners to build their slice of the pie with content creation tools that alleviate the burden on publisher teams for simple, evergreen updates, or unique ad formats that boost engagement for advertisers. Consumers want to watch content from outlets and brands that they love and trust, and despite the current economic climate and with a little trusted help, it is still possible to deliver those messages in the same high quality, effective way.

5. The industry is committed to doing better by the planet with a cleaner supply chain.
Supply path optimization is still a huge topic in the programmatic space, but the conversation is starting to shift from a focus on business needs to the sustainability benefits of a more direct supply chain. SSPs have been forced to rethink their business models while DSPs focus on eliminating waste in the bid stream and creating more unique partnerships with tech companies. Direct integrations aren't new, but as brands and publishers look at the environmental impact of their advertising efforts with a magnifying glass, they are more focused on partners that provide the clearest path to the page.

We're entering the second half of another unprecedented year with a looming recession and a lot of uncertainty. I left Cannes feeling inspired and motivated that when the industry comes together to tackle challenges, we will come out on top.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Anthony Gonsalves is SVP of publisher development at Connatix.