Cannes lions 2018: Clever marriage of creativity, tech possible

Audience on the first day of the event at Cannes Lions 2018 | (PHOTO:Cannes Lions Twitter)
The Cannes Lions Festival can be a mad rush of seminars, meetings and award shows. But if you can find a method in the madness, the week can easily fly by as among your best experiences. It is certainly turning out to be a good one for me. And the biggest takeaway for me from the festival so far is that there can be an interesting and clever marriage of technology and creativity. 

Shamsuddin Jasani
As a digital marketing and media professional, we have at our disposal cutting-edge tools and the discipline and rigour to interpret the numbers behind it all. But while this can all help in embellishing the message, the creative idea is at the centre of this journey. That is a key learning for me at Cannes because often we forget about this, enamoured by the innovation and tech that powers digital advertising.

I am glad festivals such as the Cannes Lions are bringing these issues into sharp focus because these are questions digital marketing professionals will be confronted with as the medium evolves. If the debate earlier revolved around how we need to lay our hands on the best technology, the conversation now is how this technology can be best utilised to put forth a message in an interesting manner. I head Isobar (digital agency) and programmatic buying at Dentsu Aegis Network. 

Simply put, programmatic advertising automates the ad buying process in the digital space. While human intervention comes down using programmatic buying tools, the needle will increasingly shift to how best it can be used to speak to consumers differently. If this is given a thought seriously, it opens up a plethora of opportunities in digital advertising, something that excites me enormously.

Another important message for me from Cannes is the role of influencers in social media. While the world has known this for a while now, India is just waking up to this reality. And I am of the firm belief that influencer marketing will shape the world of communication in India strongly, given the large base of consumers on social media.

But as brands look to exploit influencer marketing on social media, discussions are also increasingly veering towards the need to do it in a safe environment. This acquires significance at a time when the threat of digital theft and piracy is growing. Brand and media owners have a huge responsibility of using the right kind of content to reach consumers in a relevant manner. And this debate will only get bigger in client-agency meetings after the controversy earlier this year around consultancy Cambridge Analytica and the way it mined raw data of Facebook users to influence voter opinion. Given that digital data is irreversible, this has the potential to explode, like it did in Facebook’s case, if not handled well.  

I also see digital marketing professionals staking their claim on the creative table even more in the future. Traditionally, Cannes has been about the celebration of work created by the mainline ad agencies. And there is no taking away from that. But as digital media practitioners up their game, especially in markets such as India, a place where most international brands want to be, the picture will be vastly different as we go forward.
/> (The author is managing director of digital agency Isobar, part of Dentsu Aegis Network)