The conference, dubbed “Transformation”, is a four day meeting that provides attendees with a 360 degree look at the industry and what headlines will be in focus for the year ahead. Success and progress is heralded, while at the same time challenges and setbacks are discussed and debated. At times, the conversation was as hot as the Florida sun, as presenters and panelists challenged conventional wisdom and one another to embrace our new environment, as an opportunity to be a better, stronger industry.

Here are several of the key themes being discussed:

Transparency, and the many layers of the onion surrounding this topic.

The complete transparency as to what is being purchased on behalf of clients and the associated costs. There is a notion that clients have less control over budget allocation in an increasingly programmatic world.

The integrity of transparency of spending leverage rebates earned by agencies, particularly in the digital space, and ensuring that these discounts are being distributed fairly to clients.

There was much discussion on the integrity surrounding transparency in vendor and third party relationships, and to make clients both comfortable and aware of these relationships.

Lastly, being transparent about what is an ad vs paid native content.  A greater focus on being upfront with the consumer, by labeling content as “sponsored” or “paid” and doing so in a upfront, full disclosure manner.  The key takeaways are that it should be 1) obvious, not in a smaller type or hidden in any way, 2) should not require consumer scrolling no matter the device or format, and 3) if a hyperlink is required that it be as close as possible to the relevant content.

The age of effectiveness is here.  A theme covered in several panel sessions.

There is a glaring and obvious need to throw out other criteria and focus on metrics such as engagement, relevance and effectiveness. Navigating past the data and allowing the consumer to engage on consistent, straightforward messaging and content is the key to unlock brand success. Also, we must do this while undergoing a media renaissance, where several players, such as Google and facebook are emerging as dominant, and to audiences that are being bombarded with change, but can only process modest change. Data is critical and is here to stay, but needs to be managed, to avoid paralysis.

The notion here is that that if we think as we did in the past, we will be left behind.  Rishid Toboccawalla,of Publicis Groupe said, “we must get the plumbing and the poetry right.”  He suggested that instead of throwing spears and hoping to hit the consumer, that we build one strong spear or stake in the ground and invite consumers to” impale” themselves on it.

The future is more and more programmatic.

The Lumascape, can seem complex, but the reality is that through mergers and consolidation it is becoming a more manageable landscape.  In 2016 nearly 70% of all digital display advertising will be served programmatically.  The driving principle behind this is relevancy.  We all want our messaging to be relevant, right?  The fundamental here is the shift from audience targeting to people targeting and the layers of specificity and attribution.  A recent Nielsen study showed virtually no relationship between clicks and brand metrics or offline sales.  In today’s world the click is outdated-- viewability, time and interactivity are more important metrics and predictors of success.  The same study showed that brand awareness increases 44% when a campaign is optimized towards viewability.

Also, emerging are 3rd party verification vendors such as Moat, which provides real time verification on metrics such as viewability, non-human traffic detection and attention/metrics.

The future here is in video and audio as tv networks, radio station groups as well as social channels and apps all up their commitment to programmatic sales.

Overheard at the conference:

Consumers will spend over 2,000 hours on their phones this year (83 days)…….

The average Facebook video view is 1.7 seconds…..

Facebook users watch 100 million hours of video daily……

86% of Americans are sports fans, while only 4% have no interest in sports…..

2/3 of sports fans do not live in the same city as their favorite team……

Nielsen is rolling out digital audio ratings in PPM markets....

There is virtually no relationship between “clicks” and offline sales….

20-30% of digital spending should be focused on branding.


The agenda also included discussions about the pace of change in society, attracting talent, new business development, workplace equality, agency case studies and panels from well-respected marketers and agency leaders. Though our business is fast-paced, it was good to take some time to think about our industry, meet with peers and discuss the year ahead.  Let’s make it great!