Ad Blocking, Adland’s Diversity Problem And Monica Lewinsky: 7 Unmissable Moments From AANA Reset 2016

This week saw the return of AANA Reset in Sydney – and Unruly is here to run you through the event’s most unmissable moments.

Across the course of the event, organised by AANA CEO Sunita Gloster, a range of exceptional speakers spoke on a variety of different topics, including PepsiCo President Brad Jakeman, Lindsay Pattison, CEO of Maxus Worldwide and Monica Lewinsky.

However, certain key themes popped up again and again – particularly, the idea that Adland can learn a lot from entrepreneurs, and start-up culture in general.

Many of the presenters touched on the idea that, in the face of exponentially changing tech and an increasingly fragmented media landscape, marketers need to have courage and not be afraid of disruption.

So, let’s jump into exactly what they said, and what the key learnings were.

“There is no such thing as no, there are only more creative solutions”

7. Laura Henderson – Global Head of Content & Media Monetization, Mondelez International

Laura Henderson began her talk by drawing attention to the fact that people are consuming more media than ever before, citing research that suggests young people take in the equivalent of 31.5 hours of content in a 24-hour day. She went on to discuss how the increasing fragmentation of this consumption and the explosion of ad blocking mean that ‘attention’ is the new currency. She argued that this has caused a real economic imbalance in media and questioned what happens in a world where paid advertising is not part of the equation.

Laura’s answer was clear – advertisers need to become content producers. Her key takeaway was that creators, in all their forms, need to make content good enough to sell – creating a new ecosystem with valuable IP at its core.

“Listen to young women – they’re already trying to change the world”

6. David Shing – Digital Prophet, AOL

David Shing is one of Adland’s most prominent futurists, and his talk at AANA Reset showed us exactly why. He started off by outlining the idea that ‘innovation is out, invention is in’ – and described how he believes innovation is about change, while invention is about creativity. He went on to discuss how, in an industry constantly iterating and creating new tech, companies need to find a balance between code and culture.

He also spoke briefly about how the Internet of Things might become the ‘IoE’ (of Everything, or of Emotion), and suggested that marketers need to be 2 steps ahead – already thinking about how they’ll market using disruptive and unprecedented tech. Beyond talking about technology, Shing also raised the issue of purpose. He suggested that brands need to transcend advertising and reflect back cultural change in order to succeed. He drew particular attention to gender diversity and highlighted the particular importance of young women as trendsetters.

“Despite living in a time of constant change, the fundamentals remain the same”

5. Lindsay Pattison – CEO, Maxus Worldwide

Lindsay Pattinson began her talk by imploring the advertising industry to be energised rather than intimidated by the sheer pace of technological change. From her point of view the key to this is collaboration – she argued that tech requires us to work together, and that agility is crucial. Pattinson suggested that, ultimately, brands need to build longstanding emotional connections and that technology gives us new ways to do this.

On the topic of leadership she suggested that CEOs and executives need to lead by example, and inspire and influence rather than control.

“We need to communicate, consume and click with compassion”

4. Monica Lewinsky – Social activist, public speaker and writer

One of the most unexpected and interesting talks at this year’s Reset came from spokesperson and activist Monica Lewinski – who spoke about her experiences as ‘patient zero’ for losing reputation online.

Lewinski decried the ‘rush to judgement’ enabled by tech and discussed the damaging implications of people’s private lives being made public without consent, compassion or context. She argued that the internet’s breadth and reach exacerbates a culture of humiliation and spoke of a need to return to values of compassion and empathy.

She summed up her talk by encouraging people to ‘communicate, consume and click with compassion’ and suggested that if people are compassionate, brands will be compassionate too.

“Respond with ‘we can if…’ rather than ‘we can’t because'”

3. Adam Morgan – Founder, eatbigfish

Next up was Adam Morgan, Founder of ‘eatbigfish’, talking about the power of limitations and their impact on creativity. He discussed how constraint can force us to think about realising our big ambitions in different ways, and argued that rather than listing reasons why something can’t be done, businesses and teams are always better off thinking ‘we can if….’.

He also argued that advertisers and brands need to be more entrepreneurial and, ultimately, more resourceful.  As an example, he discussed how challenger brands can make more impact with less budget than their large competitors.

His three suggestions were: “1) Use drama – demand attention to create impressions and memories; 2) use surprise – surprise is emotional amplification which leads to disproportionate impressions; and 3) be interesting on the inside – be interesting enough to get other people to write and talk about you.”

“We need to drive our own disruption.”

2. Brad Jakeman – President, PepsiCo

Finally, there was a powerful talk from Brad Jakeman on how the advertising and marketing industries should be driving their own disruption.

Jakeman talked at length about how the speed at which new ideas can gain scale is exponential, thanks to tech, and also touched on how he believes ‘innovation and disruption will not come from a homogeneous group of people’. Here he touched on issues of diversity in Adland, noting that 85% of purchasing decisions are made by women, a statistic in stark contrast to the fact that women only make up 11.5% of ad industry boards (source: Gloria Moss).

Finally, he addressed the issue of ad blocking, stating that ad blockers are forcing brands and agencies to make content consumers want to ‘see out, rather than screen out’.

“The only thing that’s certain, is uncertainty”

1. Sarah Wood – CEO, Unruly

Rounding off the list is Unruly’s very own Sarah Wood. Sarah discussed entrepreneurial attitudes in advertising and how agility can help brands succeed. She also touched on the power of purpose in advertising and branding, and how authenticity is key to winning over an audience.