The 4 Biggest Trends at Advertising Week New York 2018

Last week, thousands of brands descended on Lincoln Center in New York City to present, discuss, and debate some of the hottest topics in marketing and advertising. Advertising Week is a four-day gathering comprised of the biggest and brightest minds in the industry in order to share their expertise across eight stages in over 450 sessions. Through hours of dialogue, several topics—especially audio—kept naturally making their way into conversations.

1. The Importance of a Voice Strategy

The adoption of smart speakers has skyrocketed. Tom Webster, the SVP of Edison Research rattled off several mind-blowing stats:

  • The adoption of smart speakers has nearly tripled in the past year
  • 47% say that they “nearly always” use the devices with others in the household, 90% say they do so at least “occasionally”
  • Nearly 3 in 10 say that the time they spend with smart speakers is replacing time they used to spend with TV
  • A study showed that top indexing behaviors on smart speakers were a litany of the mundane like weather, traffic, news — and music — indicating that people have completely incorporated them into their everyday lives

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The Takeaway More and more people are buying smart speakers, using them in group settings, and asking a multitude of questions.

If you’re not thinking about a voice strategy, you’re missing out. Potential customers aren’t going to be necessarily actively searching for your website or downloading your app, and voice activation is a way to bring your brand/product into the homes of an audience. Think about it this way: people are asking questions about your brand, and you want to be the one answering them.

2. The Explosion of Podcasting

Just looking through the schedule, the term “podcasting” was popping up in session names everywhere. While podcasting has been around for a while now, in the past couple of years we have seen rapid growth. Several panelists presented statistics, including 73M listeners a month.

Not only are there more people than ever listening to podcasts, but they’re a different kind of listener—one that’s fully committed to the topic and sometimes listening 2+ times to the same episode.

Publishers partnered with early adopting brands to talk through different formats of advertising on the medium—ranging from short, scripted ads to full-on branded podcasts.

The Takeaway It’s time to consider podcasts as a part of your overall media mix. The combination of audience quality and subject matter dedication creates the perfect environment for you to incorporate your brand story into customers’ passion points.

Regardless of ad format, all panelists made a point to emphasize the importance of keeping it authentic. You’re talking directly into the ears of your audience, so keep it real.

3. The Authenticity of Storytelling

Segueing from the takeaway above, we’re entering into an age where people crave authenticity and quickly identify forced, out-of-place advertising. Although building thoughtful ad creative has always been the main message, ‘storytelling’ was a prominent topic this year.

Why did it seem more urgent this year? Technology is finally catching up to advertisers’ needs. Advancements in AI and machine learning provide the capability to track behaviors and identify signals that tell us when customers are ready to receive an ad. And, new technology (like Pandora’s sequential ads) allows you to dynamically speak to your customers based on those behaviors and signals.

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The Takeaway Think about the customer journey and build long-term relationships through creative, relevant storytelling. It will pay off.

4. The Prominence of Sonic Identity

The audio conversation was more present than ever at Advertising Week this year. A culmination of the above trends (podcasting, smart speaker growth, etc.), audio advertising is becoming a more crucial part of the overall media mix.

Throughout various sessions, thought leaders across industries began to reference the term ‘Sonic Identity.’ As we migrate from a digital to an audio space, this is something brands have to think about. When we’ve spent so much time developing the visual identity of our brands, we’ve neglected other important elements and senses. Have you ever asked yourself: What does my brand SOUND like?

The Takeaway Start dedicating more resources to developing the sounds of your brand. You can still associate your brand with specific music or literal tone of voice that can help listeners easily recognize and remember your ads.

Different brands across different industries were all pointing to the same conclusion: the Sonic Revolution is here. The question is, are you ready?

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