Comment: How 70th Cannes Lions fest measured up for those who were there

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With the dust still yet to settle over the 70th Cannes Lions festival, we caught up with our favourite media, marketing and adtech leaders, who were in the south of France last week.

Here, they share their key takeaways and thoughts on how the world’s biggest marketing, media and adtech gathering addressed the big issues of the moment, from the use of AI in the industry to gender equality, there was a lot to cover… 

Paul Coggins, AdludioPaul Coggins, CEO, Adludio

Cannes 2023 was very busy and definitely back with a bang post Covid.

“Most importantly, however, it’s the year that the festival has finally embraced the inevitability of AI changing how advertising is created and delivered.

“The experience of the past 6 months has seen the advertising world wake up to the potential of this powerful technology, especially in the realm of ad creativity and design.

“This is the next, real frontier for innovation. In my mind, 2024 will be the year we start to see this powerful technology truly driving campaigns and we can’t wait.”

IMPACT+-Vincent_VillaretVincent Villaret, CEO, IMPACT+

“AI took the throne as the most discussed topic at Cannes Lions 2023 over sustainability, a contrasting change from the previous year.

“However, we did see an evident and growing awareness of the advertising industry’s environmental impact which was not the case in 2022.

“Advertisers and media owners were actively seeking concise plans of action to reduce their carbon footprint.”

“Now is the time to build momentum and continue educating others, particularly around practices and strategies to reduce emissions while still hitting media KPIs.

“GARM’s recently launched ‘Quick Action Guide’ is a great example initiative to evangelise these best practices.

Mateusz-Rumiński-rtbMateusz Rumiński, VP of Product, PrimeAudience

“This year, Cannes focused on the topics that are most important to the user, including privacy and sustainability.

“With the deprecation of third party cookies coming next year, it is clear that solutions trying to directly replicate their functionality aren’t going to be good enough.

“Advertising of the future requires a brand new, privacy-first approach.

“Last week I was able to have a number of conversations with other industry leaders about the adaptation of the advertising tech stack to requirements of innovative tools, including the Privacy Sandbox.

“Hopefully the trend will continue, so that at Cannes next year, the entire industry can say ‘we are ready’.”

Mike-Brooks-Verve-GroupMichael Brooks, COO at Verve Group

“Cannes revealed excitement and trepidation around AI, as we expected. Conversations centred around AI’s applications in creativity and focused as much on the risks, fears, and safeguarding issues as the benefits and opportunities.

“Sustainability was another regularly discussed topic. Last year’s conversations focused on what we could do in the future.

“This year, the discourse shifted to already implemented steps with clear objectives, such as Cedara – a carbon management platform – outlining how industry partnerships can boost sustainable action.

“Another point of focus for the event was Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI).

“In particular, a national beer brand’s recent LGBTQ+-focused campaign was highlighted as a case study of failing to drive an authentic connection between a brand and its communities.

“Marketers are on the front lines of DEI and have a responsibility to do better and, as Publicis’ Linsey Loy said on stage at Verve Group’s Art Of Data event – “now is the time to be courageous.”

Carlo-De-Matteo-mintCarlo De Matteo, COO at MINT  

“There were a lot of discussions about how OpenAI technologies such as ChatGPT and other Large Language Models will transform the world of advertising.

“With Cannes Lions being the Festival of Creativity, many conversations centred on how these tools can support creatives.

“But many of the best use cases — which also don’t risk devaluing human imagination — can be found on the strategy, operations, and media side of the process.

“LLMs can help to generate campaign settings, optimise process flows, orchestrate media channels, structure media plans, configure adservers, and so on.

“This is the most exciting prospect of such technologies: their potential to unlock human ingenuity by automating repetitive and menial tasks in advertising, rather than attempting to automate the creative processes that bring so much talent to the industry to begin with.”

Anthony_Lamy_VidMobAnthony Lamy, VP EMEA Client Partnerships, VidMob

“Cannes Lions offers unparalleled opportunities for serendipitous encounters that easily turn into business meetings.

“A highlight at this year’s iteration was seeing so many senior decision-makers and top industry experts from the advertising ecosystem, laser-focused on future objectives and eager to set up business meetings.

“Long gone are the days of ‘easy chats’ with no agenda or outcome.

“As expected, the buzz at Cannes centred around AI and creative effectiveness, with our client meetings revealing the sentiment to be increasingly positive.

“The vast majority of industry players are starting to recognise that AI needs to be considered as the co-pilot of marketing strategies, partnered with human teams who provide the right input and can translate the data AI provides.”