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An Ad Tech Perspective from Cannes

June 20, 2014

Author: David Sanderson

For 61 years, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has been celebrating the power of creative to drive the communications industry forward. The breadth of the various types of creative showcased here runs wide and deep. In addition to a heavy presence of ‘classic’ and long-standing media nominees, this year we see a major focus on mobile. Mobile brings us new ways to reveal the power of interactive video. An ingenious video spot can engage a consumer in ways that broadcast, print and banner ads could only dream of.

Some in the industry have raised eyebrows and asked the question of why ad tech companies are at Cannes Lions, and what do they have to do with creative? The answer: everything. To not acknowledge that advanced tech and targeting can help proliferate and present great ideas in new and meaningful ways is to neglect the aptitude of the creative. In the digital medium, there are many voices and distractions. A great idea is the cornerstone, but ultimately is only half the battle. The creative absolutely needs the assistance of expert targeting to cut through the clutter. Put in a more conventional way - If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

After spending the last 15 years working mostly in interactive mediums, the irony for me is finding the print / outdoor sections of the festival the most invigorating. I spent hours this week in the Palais’ lower-level mesmerized by the ideas conveyed from a single page. Seeing such great concepts placed into one ‘frame’ of remarkable execution is a true inspiration, and ripe with principles that can be applied to how we communicate within interactive mediums.

While print and outdoor typically have one stationary conveyance at a time, Interactive mediums have the ability to utilize endless timelines and functionalities. It’s important to constantly remind ourselves of what the key kernel of information is, and how best to engaging the consumer.  The root concept must be able to stand on its own, regardless of any timelines (or lack thereof), bells, or whistles available in each unique medium. All too often, I see the interactive accouterments taking over, many times diluting and overshadowing what was once a profound idea.

Cannes Lions never fails to reinvigorate, and I am excited for what is to come. We are heading deep into an era that will, in no small ways, redefine how we engage audiences around the world.  And for those creating and receiving the messages, the best is yet to come.

Tags: perspectives creative technology event

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