Stats, trends, and a prediction from last week’s Ad Age’s Digital Conference

Ad Age Digital Conference 2015 Photo

The 2015 Ad Age Digital Conference in NYC. My head and notebook runneth over.

Last week, I attended Ad Age’s Digital Conference in NYC—at a Pier 36 facility in clear view of the two bridges on the lower East Side—with a few hundred other marketing types. Attendees ranged from enthusiastic young’uns, to bewildered late adopters, to the jaded “seen it alls.” I had a blast.

This was my second year at this two-day conference, and I always walk away with about a terabyte of info cramming the circuitry in my brain and the pages of my sketchbook. Please allow me to share!

Some quick stats and findings…

  • Millennials—that coveted bunch—will have a predicted buying power of $1.4 trillion by 2024. The oldest of this group (gulp) is now approaching 35 and starting to run departments and companies, if they look up from their phones long enough. As for media consumption, the vast majority of them watch events online, like concerts and sports. They’re usually most active in consuming their favorite content, according to companies that measure that sort of thing, in the early evening.
  • The vast majority of marketers surveyed say that integrating their marketing across platforms is their biggest challenge. The second biggest? Justifying ROI on content marketing and social media. And number three… staying on top of social chatter.
  • Even with that second bullet fresh in your mind, most marketers say that listening to social media has a pretty big impact on their marketing decisions. The masses rule.
  • Video, of course, is growing in popularity. This year, Facebook users posted 75% more videos than last year. The number-one tactic for marketers right now is video.
  • The average US consumer spends 12 hours and four minutes a day consuming media. How can that be you ask? Don’t these people work? The answer is people use multiple devices at the same time. You’re watching TV… catching extra content on your laptop… looking at Twitter comments on your phone, etc. Hours are record per device, even if they overlap.
  • Mobile use is on the rise (duh) and more than a third of consumers in the US use a smartphone and a tablet.

Now, on to some trends…

Brands—especially big ones—seem more obsessed with storytelling than ever before. In fact, the shift is now from telling stories to making them by inviting consumers to openly participate. An example shared at the conference was Adobe’s 25th anniversary of Photoshop. The company invited creators from around the globe to share their work online and in ads, free of compensation mind you, just because they loved the product. The turn out was pretty impressive.

Storytelling is part of a larger brand movement, however, centering around customer experience. Today, branding goes much deeper than logo colors—it encompasses customer service, product packaging, content, social media, environmental design, blog posts, and every touch point a customer may have. The companies that get these brand points right and consistent, apparently, do well. Studies show that they are consistent stock price leaders.

And finally, one prediction…

We all know the usual media metrics of frequency, reach, click-throughs, views, and the like. Now, there’s a new and very interesting metric that may be the future for online: Time.

Think about it. Any time you visit a site, one of the things you’re looking to do is leave and do something else. The videos… or sites… or blogs… or whatevers… that catch and keep your attention for any length of time in our chipmunk-attention-span world are actually worth something. The more time you can capture from someone, the more that content is worth.

Some publications—like the Financial Times—are testing this model now. They guarantee that every ad is in view for a certain amount of time. Of course, it helps if that ad or content is interesting. (I hope this little recap has been interesting for you!)

– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group

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