This year’s Interactive Day conference, “Collide with Tomorrow,” brought together a diverse group of industry insiders. The event was organized by TRACKS: Influence, Innovate, Inspire, Intelligence, and Speakeasy, each focusing on a unique angle on current marketing and advertising trends.
Key topics were: automation, artificial intelligence, and connectivity and how they are changing not only the way we consume products and services but also how we relate with each other. The biggest standout was the need for marketing to make human connections that add value to people’s lives.
Opening Keynote Speaker, Brandon Farbstein on Harnessing Individual Power
The opening keynote speaker, Brandon Farbstein, is a charismatic 18-year-old who has already accomplished more than most. Diagnosed with a rare form of dwarfism, he began his career as a public speaker at the age of 15 as the result of a random conversation where he was asked what his purpose in life was.
It just so happened the person asking was a co-founder of TED-X! This event would forever change his life. Up until this point, Farbstein felt trapped in a life of uncertainty and social isolation. Yet he figured out that it was all a matter of perspective and courage.
Farbstein realized his power – “the power of one” – and understood the secret to living the greatest life possible was to give of himself by adding value to the lives of those around him. Brandon is the youngest member of the National Speaker Association having shared his philosophy with over a million people and shows no signs of slowing down.
Intelligence Track on Machine Learning, VR and Other Trending Tech
This open panel discussion was led by moderator, Dylan Whitman, who discussed the promise and pitfalls of machine learning, VR, and voice search with a select group of industry leaders. Here are a few highlights of what they had to say.
Companies are no longer competing to provide the best products but rather the most efficient ways of getting a product in a customer’s hands. – Dylan Whitman
The best experiences are seamless. Nobody needs to know it’s AI if it works and adds value to a customer’s needs. That is the best reason to support or abandon a specific technology. – Cherry Parks
Those who are masters of a technology started 10-20 years ago. So don’t wait for things to get popular, instead invest in the future as part of your present-day strategy. – Mark Newcomer
AR is showing more potential than VR due to it being a less expensive platform for developers and content creators. It is also less expensive technology for consumers to own and integrate into their daily lives. Jeremy also explained how AR can provide new opportunities for brick and mortar stores to engage customers by providing more immersive experiences. – Jeremy Duimstra
Closing Keynote Focuses on Diversity
Aaron Walton and Lisen Stromberg discussed how multicultural diversity provides a great opportunity to grow a business if done right. The goal is to create brand content that enriches the consumer culture and builds on positive change.
It is up to agencies, however, to find the most qualified people but more importantly, it is to allow them to be themselves in order to retain them. But it’s not just about diversity.
Walton who began his marketing career at PepsiCo. was quick to point out the recent Kendall/Pepsi fail to emphasize the importance of life experience for segmentation to work properly.
As COO of the 3% Movement, Stromberg added that consumers need to feel like their political and social concerns are shared by their brands of choice. A strong proponent for diversity in the workplace along with gender equality, Lisen highlighted HP, Verizon and General Mills as success stories.
In short, although we may want to be regarded as thought leaders, we must also be cautious not to push polarizing points of view, such as the recent Superbowl Audi fail, which can come off as one-sided or insincere.
Successful advertising highlights our universal humanity and brings people together (think: puppies and babies). When advertising is done to promote a service or product, it should be welcoming to all people and all ideas, not just those that we as content creators agree with.
Of course, we want to remain empathetic to our differences and cognizant of social and ethical boundaries. That is the difference between great advertising vs. creating biased propaganda. It is up to agencies to celebrate our consumers’ accomplishments while also elevating the brands we represent. In summary, we understand the consumer because we are the consumer.