Advertising Week New York 2016 Recap: Spotlight on Consumer-Centricity


If there was one prevailing theme at Advertising Week New York 2016, it was that of consumer connection and consideration. It’s a fact: consumers have more control and choice than ever before. And as dozens of panelists and keynote speakers across the gamut of AdWeek events made clear, members of the advertising ecosystem better sit up and acknowledge that, or risk being left in the dust.

Consumers are tired of bad ads, and of bad advertising experiences in general. More and more users are taking responsibility into their own hands by installing ad blockers, or by opting in to alternative ad arrangements that either allow users to pay a set fee to avoid ads or select their preferred format for non-skippable ads in exchange for free access.

AdWeek events ranging from the MMA’s SM2 Innovation Summit to the MMS During Advertising Week to the Native Ad Forum all included a renewed focus on technology as an enabler of consumer choice as well as the rise of formats such as native that go a long way towards improving the ad experience for consumers.

At this year’s Native Ad Forum, Dr. Bill Simmons, Co-Founder & CTO of DataXu said, “You can’t just take standard banner ads and slap them into native. That doesn’t work. Native is a different format, and success in native for the advertiser and the consumer isn’t always about clicks. Success could simply mean making an ad interesting enough to be read and considered for a few minutes, with the hope that action will be taken at a later point.”


DataXu Co-Founder & CTO, Dr. Bill Simmons, speaking at the Native Ad Forum

Advertisers have a responsibility to consumers to craft stories that work for them; to serve up ads that build a story over time in an order that makes sense for an individual consumer’s unique journey. Talks about multi-touch attribution and other hot topics were framed up not as new industry jargon, but rather as the means to advertisers’ end goal at last: communicating with consumers in the least invasive and most effective way possible across all devices and formats.

Needless to say, during AdWeek 2016, advertisers, publishers, demand side partners and agencies occasionally ended up on opposite sides of debates on topics ranging from attribution to transparency. Companies who inadvertently positioned themselves as still stuck in the past were poorly received compared to other star keynote advertisers such as General Motors, Estée Lauder and GE—all of whom gave stirring keynote presentations early in the week that served to highlight just how far these “traditional” companies have traveled from their roots to become leaders in pushing innovation forward today.

General Motors is investing in everything from a car-sharing service called Maven targeted at Millennials to selling the premier connected car in the U.S. market. General Motors’ Global Marketing Operations Leader Tim Mahoney explained GM’s shift in philosophy in front of a packed crowd at the MMA SM2 Innovation Summit.


Global Marketing Operations Leader for General Motors, Tim Mahoney, speaking during the MMA SM2 Innovation Summit

“Our research shows that 94% of the time, a consumer’s car is parked,” Mahoney stated. “And so now consumers are starting to reconsider their need for a car in general. Do they really need to own a car, or not? And if they decide they do need to own a car, they aren’t just thinking about fuel economy anymore. One of the key auto consideration questions we see today is, ‘What kind of technology do I want in my car?’”

Estée Lauder’s Kelle Jacob, of the conglomerate’s Global Marketing and Brand Development team, also expressed a similar theme when she said onstage at the MMS event, “We see a lot of change and innovation in how brands are communicating and how customers are communicating. With MAC, for example, maybe doing an Augmented Reality pop-up experience with Arianna Grande is appropriate. But for a classic Estée Lauder consumer who is 65 years old? That would be all wrong. We need to give customers the right experience—and different experiences for different customers.”

To learn more about becoming customer-centric through data management, cross-device solutions, premium media and more, join DataXu at the 2nd Annual DataXu Summit in New York City Oct. 26-27th.