Joseph Arthur
Jun 27, 2024

Cannes Lions 2024 in review: 17 marketers look back at the festival that was

Industry experts gleaned valuable insights from the festival, covering AI, innovation, sustainability, CTV, and retail media.

Cannes Lions 2024 in review: 17 marketers look back at the festival that was

The 2024 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is over. Having come and gone in a flash, adland is currently impassioned with ongoing discussions first had along the Croisette.

As predicted, AI and technical innovation dominated the week, with CTV, retail media, data privacy and cookie deprecation regularly featuring across panels too.

Notably, while sustainability and the summer of sport were certainly regular talking points, depending on which circle of attendees you found yourself engaging with most, neither quite had the same amount of gravitas behind them as many expected.

Nevertheless, to leave you with a flavour of the festival that was, PMW has rounded up some of the hottest takes and reflections from industry experts who were on the ground in the Palais.

Philip Acton, managing director UK at Adform, said of the festival as a whole: “This year the buzz of Cannes was the best it’s ever been. It seemed like everyone was in a positive mood to do business.

“Several themes stood out. AI (obviously) was the name of the game and a lot of our clients were keen to understand the short-term opportunities. Similarly, Google’s cookie deprecation was peppered among the conversations—the consensus of most of these was that we shouldn’t wait, especially when there are solutions now, such as Utiq and ID Fusion.

“What I did notice was, I wasn’t having many conversations that included ESG, but having spoken to peers about this they assured me they didn’t see that, which was reassuring to hear. One ESG highlight however was the GARM framework announcement.

“CTV has been a big contender during 2024 so it was unsurprising to see TV OEMs, such as LG Ads Solutions and Samsung Ads have a decent presence. Roku, Disney+ and SambaTV all put CTV on the agenda and people were talking about budgets and activations as much as they were talking about strategy.

“Finally, I took part in a roundtable at Maison NDA, where topics such as curation, SPO [supply path optimisation] and retail media also sparked debate. What’s clear from all of this is that Cannes put the spotlight on moving the industry towards solutions, rather than paying lip service to the problems.”

AI, innovation and finding new audiences

“AI was a standout theme, in particular leveraging the technology to achieve more.”

 Andrea Ching, Global Head of Integrated Marketing at Bloomberg Media, said:

“This year was a pivotal moment for the industry, emphasising the importance of both nurturing and training the next generation of marketing talent. AI was a standout theme, in particular leveraging the technology to achieve more with fewer resources. This aligns with

Bloomberg’s theme of ‘good Business’, highlighting how innovation can drive a positive impact on global societies, systems and trends.

“With AI at our fingertips surely the real opportunity for creatives is to capitalise on its input and automation.”

 

Mike Khouri, CEO of Tactical, said:

“This year’s Cannes Lions festival was dominated by media platforms and AI, highlighting a potential de-prioritisation of traditional creative storytelling in favour of these emerging technologies.

“Despite some valuable insights into AI’s potential for disruption, I missed a deeper dive into how this technology can be harnessed to enable what Cannes Lions is all aboutcreative excellence. With AI at our fingertips surely the real opportunity for creatives is to capitalise on its input and automation to free up more time for the industry’s greatest strengthhuman creativity.

“From a networking perspective though, Cannes continues to offer unparalleled access to thought leaders and tastemakers, providing a window into what great looks like today as well as what trends and topics matter most to the industry.”

“Consistently innovating while staying true to your brand's core values.”

 

Lena Arbery, Associate Director of Sales at Tripadvisor, said:

“The key lesson from Cannes Lion 2024 is the importance of consistently innovating while staying true to your brand's core values and putting consumers at the centre of your brand. In a crowded market, advertisers must prioritise their end customers, who are the heart and soul of the brand, to effectively target and retarget them through every step of the funnel.”

“This year’s Cannes showed that commerce media offers distinct advantages.”

 

Paul Wright, Head of International for Uber Advertising, said:

“In terms of key topics, the rise of commerce media and commerce networks was undeniably dominant. Prominent brands across verticals, from our own platform, to airlines to banks, all came to highlight their commerce media offerings.

“Last year, the focus was perhaps more on pure retail media, but this year’s Cannes showed that commerce media offers distinct advantages. It can effectively steer consumers along their purchase path and empower brands to amplify their message across the upper and lower funnel.”

“There is growing apprehension that gen AI will have detrimental effects on creativity.”

 

Federico Salvitti, VP of Growth US at MINT, said:

“Marketers this year are confronting the specific opportunities and challenges introduced by AI. For example, there is growing apprehension that gen AI will have detrimental effects on creativity, as well as on the job market, but I think the positives far outweigh these potential downsides.

“I encourage everyone to test and train with AI as part of their curricula to understand its benefits for their business. This technology is here to stay, so it’s crucial for the industry to adapt and prioritise change management.”

“Disruption always provokes change.”

 

Jason Warner, Director UK and EMEA at SBS, said:

“Disruption always provokes change, and this was evident in the omnipresence of AI at Cannes. This year, discussions around the technology among industry leaders were serious and grounded, with conversations about how AI tools can be utilised to enhance programmatic trading capabilities, but not replace it.

“With the deadline for cookie depreciation inching closerbarring another delay from Googleit was interesting to hear how AI will play a key role in helping to bridge the attribution gap.

“The conversations highlighted how these tools can be a game-changer for independent agencies. If they are to continue to deliver on their client's advertising goals in an efficient way and stay competitive, then embracing automation and curation tools will be key.”

“Buy more qualitative audiences without compromising user privacy.”

 Mateusz Ruminski, VP of Product at PrimeAudience, said:

“This Cannes, a lot has been said about audience curationwhich seems one of the most promising ways to help advertisers buy more qualitative audiences without compromising user privacy.

“Unsurprisingly, generative AI is repeated virtually everywhere. However, I would expect more sophisticated uses of generative AI technologies in advertising, than those that were presented, giving new entrants more opportunity.

“People are tired of hearing about cookie-less. At the same time, industry leaders are quite convinced that brands are significantly underprepared and will get a shock when the plug gets pulled.

“Finally, measurement remains a challenge, in particular, how to understand the campaign results holistically, considering that individual targeting tactics rely on different targeting and measurement tools and there is no easy way to reconcile it all.”

“Discussions are moving from theoretical concepts to practical value.”

 Alexander Igelsböck, CEO at Adverity, said:

“Industry players are still enthralled by the potential of gen AI, but discussions are moving from theoretical concepts to practical value. Businesses eager to bolster their productivity levels are actively exploring where advanced models can be applied to streamline time-consuming jobs, allowing talented people to focus their efforts on higher-value strategic tasks.

“There was also, unsurprisingly, a lot of buzz about AI’s scope to act as a springboard for marketers to amplify and enrich creativity. But as new avenues of smart innovation are explored, it will be important to ensure they are built on the right foundations of high-quality, relevant data to craft resonant narratives that forge genuine connections with audiences.” 

Best of the restprivacy, publishing, CTV and retail media

“Safeguarding integrity becomes more important than ever.”

 Julia Beizer, Chief Digital Officer at Bloomberg Media, said:

“There was a crucial discussion about the health of the Open Web, focusing on protecting it through investing in premium publishers. As synthetic content floods the digital space, and signal loss reduces measurability, safeguarding integrity becomes more important than ever.

"Incorporating this perspective highlights the necessity of responsible business practices, to move the dial on from business to practising good business.”

“Curation is bringing together quality inventory with high-quality audience data.”

 Stacy Bohrer, VP of Buyer Development, NA at OpenX, said:

“Cannes this year highlighted several key themes that are shaping the future of the advertising industry, with curation, transparency, CTV, and the elimination of made-for-advertising (MFA) sites taking centre stage.

“Curation is bringing together quality inventory with high-quality audience data, enabling more granular and impactful advertising. Transparency in CTV is a growing priority, with the abundance of CTV inventory necessitating greater clarity and collaboration between buyers and sellers, particularly around the specific content, ratings, and genres of inventory.

“The elimination of MFA sites is also an increasingly significant step in building trust and quality in digital advertising. By focusing on genuine audience engagement, the industry is moving towards more transparent and efficient marketplaces, serving both advertisers and consumers better.

“(Cookies have become) an accepted inevitability rather than a hot topic.”

 Marko Johns, UK Managing Director & International Head of Agency at Seedtag, said:

“The industry’s shift towards trialling new methods to reach consumers more effectively was palpable at Cannes this year. It was a little surprising that the cookie deprecation wasn’t in the spotlight, but it highlights that it has become an accepted inevitability rather than a hot topic. It’s also a reminder that those who don’t prepare for it won’t be ready for the future of advertising.

“The burgeoning significance of CTV in the creative and data marketplace was also a popular theme this year, with major players like Netflix, Roku, and Samsung showcasing its potential in growing the industry.

“At Cannes next year, I look forward to greater discussions around DE&I, leadership, and business transformation topics, and to seeing more innovations that unite creativity, connection, and cutting-edge technology to deliver personalised consumer experiences.”

“Fraud and viewability are table stakes for marketers now.”

 Csaba Szabo, Managing Director EMEA of Integral Ad Science, said:

“Beyond the general buzz, this year saw marketers grappling with the concrete opportunities and hurdles that AI will bring to the industry. Driving efficiency and productivity was top of mind for many, but so was the threat of misinformation and deep fakes. It was therefore encouraging to see the excitement around what the next generation of brand safety solutions will look like.

“Fraud and viewability are table stakes for marketers now. Dynamic and innovative brand safety solutions using real-time data and delivering proven business outcomes are what the industry craves, and AI can play its role in delivering these tools.”

“An isolated incident or a sign of wider trouble.”

 Eli Heath, Head of Identity at Lotame, said:

“The recent news that Oracle is shutting down its advertising business proved a popular topic of discussion at Cannes this year. Speculation around why this may have happened and whether this is an isolated incident or a sign of wider trouble buzzed through the Croisette throughout the week.

“Another hot topic was the need for the advertising industry to move away from focussing heavily on reach, and towards the value of quality inventory and a premium open web. This will undoubtedly result in CPM inflation, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks as advertisers have greater transparency over the inventory they buy and the value they can provide.” 

Sustaining the conversation around sustainability

“There has been a clear absence of standards or guidelines for tracking and reducing carbon emissions.”

 David Shaw, Co-founder and CEO of Cedara, said:

“Sustainability was the hottest topic at Cannes this year, with the release of GARM and Ad Net Zero’s Framework pushing the issue back to the top of ad industry agendas.

“There has been a clear absence of standards or guidelines for tracking and reducing carbon emissions, but this framework has changed the game.

“It’s set a new standard for accountability, which will prove invaluable in motivating the entire ecosystem to take responsibility and prioritise sustainability in its strategies and practices. However, in order to drive meaningful change, it is essential that brands ensure all vendors, including ad platforms and publishers, measure and reduce corporate emissions according to these unprecedented standards.”

“Educational activations highlighted an industry desire to continue learning.”

 Christine Cook, Global Chief Revenue Officer at Bloomberg Media, said:

“This week brought sustainability back into the conversation in measurable ways, with discussions on the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM) and Scope 3 emissions.

“Educational activations highlighted an industry desire to continue learning and stay ahead, amid constant changes in the digital landscape. The ANA Global CMO Growth Council offered valuable insights as part of Bloomberg Media’s programming, while our workshops provided hands-on experiences.

“There's a growing emphasis on not just the media we buy but how we buy it.”

 Emma Newman, CRO EMEA at PubMatic, said:

“Sustainability really took the spotlight at Cannes this year, with more serious discussions taking place around environmental impact. There's a growing emphasis on not just the media we buy but how we buy it. How can we reduce our carbon footprint and ensure our practices support the planet? Once again we’re reminded that this isn’t just a passing trend; it’s a vital shift in how we operate.

“Agencies are also increasingly focused on supporting minority-owned media and ensuring their purchases are ethical. This means working with verified publishers and fact-checking news sources, guaranteeing brand safety and transparency to promote a healthier media environment. It’s a challenging yet exciting time, and it’s inspiring to see the industry come together to tackle these important issues head-on."

 

Source:
Performance Marketing World

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