March 6th, 2015

BAFTA played host yesterday to APA’s annual ‘The Future of Advertising… In One Afternoon’ conference, which saw industry minds gather, with the aim of getting an insight into what the future holds for creativity, technology and even legislation, within our industry.

A range of speakers took to the stage to discuss everything from consumer psychology, to data management; with highlights including Dave Trott (founder of GGT), Caitlin Ryan (Group ECD of Karmarama) and Luke Ritchie (EP at Nexus).

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An overriding theme of the day, was how brands can use technology to engage the consumer. We are all too familiar with the bombardment of online ads that litter our social media channels, but are these actually effective? Is the constant focus on tech meaning that creativity is seemingly lost?

Here are some talks that touched on a couple of the industry's biggest issues:

Amy Kean, Head of Futures – Havas
Advertising & Chemicals – studying consumer technology to get a glimpse of the future

Amy talked about consumer psychology, claiming that the digital market has ‘lost its manners’ and is repetitive, clingy, interruptive and based in efficiency and response, not creativity.

She highlighted digital marketing that ‘follows’ people around the web; that pair of jeans you looked at once on ASOS and is now constantly advertised in your peripherals online. Sound familiar? This relentless pursuit across the web annoys 95% of consumers and can leave a lasting negative impact on the human brain, but is cheap so companies continue to use it.

Amy believes that the future is moving towards how advertising feels emotionally – not how it looks. What use is technology, if the story doesn’t have enough resonance to stick in someone’s mind? People are even starting to communicate through gifs and emoticons, which stir more emotion than normal prose.

There’s too much focus on what technology can do, and not what it needs to do to engage the consumer.

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Mark Eaves, Founder – Gravity Road
Creating Scrollstoppers – the psychology of sharing

Mark Eaves also touched on the psychological impact that advertising needs to make on consumers. He asked the audience, ‘how far do you scroll a day?’ highlighting the sheer level of content we process each time we scroll through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Buzzfeed and online news homepages. The length of the Daily Mail homepage alone is as long as the tallest man in the world! (8ft 3inches)

How can advertising punch through the huge level of content that we digest each day? Brands and agencies need to be creating ideas that stop the scrolling and engage our brains. People are much less engaged, but sharing more – often sharing articles without getting beyond the title. So as an industry it’s now harder than ever for us to make an impact.

It’s Mark’s view, that advertising has to be as interruptive as possible, in order for the consumer to stop and take notice.

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Dave Trott, Founder of GGT
Predatory Thinking

Dave Trott asked a simple question ‘what’s happened to creativity?’ He believes that in this generation obsessed with technology, creativity has fallen by the wayside.

‘What’s happened to creativity? It’s too boring to be a crisis’ – Dave Trott

He stressed the fact that creativity is great and effective when it’s simple. The problem we’re currently encountering, is that no one is re-defining the problem, they’re just re-designing the solution.

Dave’s theory rests on a simple principle; advertising is a conversation, and to have an effective conversation you need three things; impact, communication and persuasion.

This rings true back to Amy’s comment, that there is too much focus on technology and not enough on creative content.

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What does the future hold?

There was a fantastic show of technology and digital marketing methods throughout the afternoon, but a strong resounding feeling that advertising is currently failing through the creative. Technology should be a tool to tell fantastic stories, not an excuse to create content.

In order to effectively interact with consumers, brands need to engage with them on an emotional level. Most day-to-day advertising stirs so little emotion or opinion, that it goes completely un-noticed. But the question remains, how, when vying for the brain’s attention with thousands of pieces of content a day, can brands stand out from the crowd?

What do you think the future holds for advertising? Share your thoughts in the comments section or Tweet @Millchannel