AAF’s 2017 Ad Trends Panel Features Our Own John Lee

This afternoon, John Lee, our Vice President of Communications Strategy, participated in a panel discussion with other local agency leaders at the AAF Dallas Food for Thought Luncheon. From big data to micro-moments, the panel weighed in on a number of marketing topics trending upward in 2017.

Speaking of big data, the panel agreed that while it will continue to drive change, what it really comes down to how data is used to drive customer behavior. Segmenting and targeting will continue to be key.

As John Lee pointed out, “Interpretation is key. We can’t get lost in the data; we have to use it as a guide. What is important is focusing on a set of 4 – 6 KPI’s, not pages of data, that we use to help our client drive and measure success.”

Dark social took center stage during the debate around big data. Simply stated, dark social refers to the social sharing of content that occurs outside of what can be measured by Web analytics programs. For instance, email messages between friends. How to effectively track and measure this type of social content will continue to evolve. Brands are going to have to come up with a methodology to put metrics around it.

When asked about key areas to pay attention to 2017, the panel seemed to be in alignment over the role of content and creativity. Yes, big data may inform campaign decisions, but dynamic, creative, authentic content is still at the heart of the matter. Also, video content will continue its rise to prominence across the channels, especially when it comes to telling brand stories.

Two more areas touched upon were agency employee skill set as well as recruitment and retention strategies. Panel members keyed in on the importance of continuing education. In our fast-paced age of ever-evolving and new technology, agency employees at all levels have to keep up with new technologies and the opportunities they provide.

Lee added, “No one has figured it all out yet. And you have to keep people challenged. We look for people who are driven and can look beyond the written job description. Continuing to learn is a big part of that.”

Of course, no panel discussion about trends in marketing can be conducted without talking about Google.

The rise of RankBrain—Google’s AI process for handling search engine queries—will continue to influence search rankings. Will it lead to more accurate/better interpretation of ambiguous requests? Can Google continue to move away from manual processes? The jury is still out on that. And, perhaps, only Google knows the answer.

This also raised the issue of “content in context” as Google continues to use both AI and humans to improve search results quality.

“Interpreting the context around a certain search term is increasingly important. We have to understand the context in order to provide the most relevant and meaningful content,” said Lee.

While on the Google train, the topic of micro-moments came up.

Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.

To win at search brand ads or messages have to appropriately appear during these micro-moments.

Finally, the conversation turned to the Dallas advertising landscape and how we are positioned against the traditional powerhouse markets of Los Angeles and New York. With an economy that continues to thrive, the influx of companies like Toyota and others who are bringing their agencies—Deutsch, Saatchi & Saatchi and BBDO—with them, we should see an influx of great talent and increased competition among both local and national agency players.

All that new talent, along with spirited competition among a diverse group of top-notch agencies bodes well for the future. The health of the Dallas advertising community is certainly trending up in 2017!

More About John Lee

John Lee has been helping brands communicate better for over 30 years. John joined Imaginuity in 2015 where he serves as Vice President, Communications Strategy. John is responsible for the overall strategic communications direction for all clients with a particular emphasis on content and Influencer marketing all directed to help Imaginuity clients create meaningful connections in today’s omni-channel world. John strongly believes purpose must be at the heart of all effective communications programs whether off or online.

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