The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was held last week in the lovely French Riviera. As advertising execs from around the world came together, the conversation flowed as freely as the rosé. Fortuitously, the key themes that emerged fit nicely into the 4C construct.

1. Content

Per eMarketer, global advertising spend is expected to grow 6% in 2016 to $542.55 billion. But it’s content that makes the media industry go round. Without quality content there is no audience and with no audience there are no advertisers. Of course the inverse also holds true. Without advertisers there is no quality content – which is why David Rodnitzky astutely attests ad blockers are not a true threat – and as such, the two are inextricably linked.

Indeed, with the exception of subscription models like Netflix, ad supported content is the way of the media world. This helps explain why many of the Cannes Lions awards given out were for executions that blurred the lines between paid and organic marketing. And this should serve as guidance for all advertisers, agencies, broadcasters, and publishers to continue to focus on creating compelling content that puts user experience first.

When it comes to commingled advertising and content, one platform that’s truly doing it right is Pinterest. Its ad format is essentially the same as its native content, just with the word promoted on it. And it’s finding new ways to seamlessly turn content into promotional opportunities for marketers including visual search that can detect objects within a pin and reveal product information. I know you’re all wishing it worked on my pants in the pic below…

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2. Context

Moment marketing is having its moment. And we’re seizing it at 4C. In Cannes, there was lots of talk about “the right time” aspect of the famous advertising mantra about reaching the right person in the right place with the right message at the right time.

For years, we’ve had the tools to target key audiences across channels with optimized creative but now we can pinpoint the ideal moment to deliver that ad. Whether it’s syncing with things like live sports moments, TV ads or weather conditions there are myriad triggers that can provide an extra layer of relevance to your message and help it stand out in a sea of cluttered screens.

Along these lines, Twitter has become an immersive second screen experience – some call it the real-time water cooler – and we’ve seen great success with Volkswagen and Armani using 4C Sport Sync. Twitter’s recent rollout of emoji targeting will add another valuable contextual signal to the equation.

Meanwhile, the ghost of Snapchat – which loomed large in Cannes including a huge billboard on the festival hall – casts its shadow on the topic of context with an immediacy and intimacy unlike any other platform. When thinking about moment marketing, one has to consider Snapchat in the mix. And soon the tools will be available to insert ads in user stories. 

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3. Creative

As for “the right message” part of the media mantra, creative is always at the forefront in Cannes. You can do all the best targeting in the world but if the creative doesn’t resonate your ad fails. Dynamic creative insertion continues to gain adoption as programmatic pervades various channels but there are some aspects that just can’t be automated.

A lot of ink has been spilled ­– thankfully the rosé wasn’t! – over the role of creative as more than just a leading indicator of success. In his Cannes recap, Ian Schafer argued the creative mix is as important as the media mix. Certainly, this has always been a tenant of the TV ad industry dating back to the Mad Men days but creative seems to have become a lost art in the digital age.

Thankfully, the major digital players are providing tools for creative innovation and Canvas from Facebook is one great example. This full screen mobile unit provides rich opportunities for brand engagement and should serve Facebook and Instagram advertisers well. Hopefully Facebook will make this format available to Ads API partners like 4C so that next year we can come home with some real Lions instead of the chocolate version. 

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4. Consolidation

The final trend that was readily apparent at Cannes was consolidation. Fresh off the announcement of Microsoft buying LinkedIn – which will have some interesting opportunities for social graph data deployment – the signage along the Croisette was a veritable who’s who or rather a who’s next of advertising M&A.

Perhaps the best portrayal of the opportunity ­– and opulence ­– within the space right now was captured by LUMA Partners who parodied their sector LUMAscapes with a Cannes Yachtscape. Sure, LUMA has a vested interest in demonstrating unsustainable ecosystems as they make money through the consolidation process but it’s clear there are far too many players competing for ever-thinning slices of the media pie. And, worse, each slice adds extra calories – read: cost – for advertisers to reach consumers as well as creating unnecessary friction along the path to multi-screen marketing magic.

Here’s hoping when I see LUMA’s Gayle Meyers in Cannes next year, we’ll be able to count on one hand the number of steps ­– and platforms – needed to deliver the right message to the right person in the right place at the right time. You can be sure that at 4C we foresee these 4Cs as keys to make the future of media a reality.

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