What to see at Advertising Week New York: Blockchain, AI and the retail apocalypse

Not sure what to see at Advertising Week New York? With so many venues, speakers and topics, it can be overwhelming! We’ve broken down the three areas which continue to dominate discussions within the ad industry. We’ve also highlighted the talks we are looking forward to around each topic.

Why are people still talking about Blockchain?

It feels like we have been talking about blockchain forever, and that’s because we have. Ten years in fact! The first blockchain was conceptualised back in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. It’s come a long way since then and many people believe that the technology will revolutionise numerous markets including the advertising sector.

With problems of fraud, complicated supply chains and lack of control over data privacy, many believe that blockchain could help to bring some transparency back into digital advertising. They believe this will be done replacing the current online model with one in which companies have more control over campaign performance tracking, and ensuring equitable outcomes.

Whatever your thoughts are on the technology it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. There are lots of discussions and talks planned around how it could disrupt digital advertising next week.

What to see at Advertising Week New York

Out of all the talks on blockchain this year, we’re especially looking forward hearing Venture Capitalist Bill Tai’s Blockchain Crash Course. This is happening on Thursday afternoon on the IBM Watson stage.

How much longer do I have to wait until machines can think for me?

AI is advancing all the time and Google recently revealed Duplex. This gives their Assistant the ability to make calls on your behalf. It can also book appointments for you like your haircut, or a table at your favourite restaurant! Scary I know!

Boston based emotional intelligence company Affectiva are also working on software which will allow AI to read facial expressions. This will open up the possibility of assistants being able to make recommendations to us without us needing to say a word to them!

AI robots

More and more companies are creating voice assistants, and piggybacking on the tech of Alexa, Google or Messenger to create specialised assistants. A good example of this is Diageo’s “Open the bar”, or Estée Laude offering nutritional advice, where you have the dialogue with the brand, not Alexa.

Our Futurist, Elena Corchero recently wrote an article around how AI and future tech will change the way brands communicate with consumers. She believes that if brands are not careful they will easily get bypassed by other tech savvy competitors. AI will be a huge talking point at Advertising Week.

What to see at Advertising Week New York

After appearing on our Home Show Live, we are looking forward to hearing IV.AI’s views on the impact of AI on different industries. We are also looking forward to IBM kicking off the week with their ‘Survival of the Fittest in an AI World’ talk.

Is retail dead yet?

shopping mall

Over the past year the conversation around retail has changed. Many thought that physical stores would eventually shut down and everything would move online. Although we have seen a lot of store closures and retail chains disappearing in the US, many retailers have embraced the digital era. They are finding new ways to attract customers with combined on and offline advertising campaigns.

Rather than seeing the online space as separate to the physical store, many retailers are combining their approach and using digital to attract customers to their stores. Amazon opened their first physical store in the US last year. It allows customers to shop by simply taking products off the shelf and charging them directly rather than having to queue at a till.

The online US lingerie company Adore Me opened their first physical stores last year. After seeing the benefits of having a combined on and offline presence, they have announced that they plan to open another 200-300 stores in the US in the next five years.

As retailers continue to see the benefits of a combined on and offline approach, they are looking for their ad campaigns to follow suit. Expect a lot of conversations around the benefits and drawbacks of combining online and offline advertising in campaigns.

What to see at Advertising Week New York

This year there are a number of talks on this subject. We are especially looking forward to hearing SET’s CEO Alasdair Lloyd-Jones on why he believes the retail apocalypse is a myth.

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Unruly Futurist Elena Corchero talks about her experience at DMEXCO earlier this month, the future of advertising, and how to avoid brand bypass.

This year a lot of the conversations we had were around the future of advertising and the rise of ambient tech. We also spoke about the growth of data produced by humans, and how it’s doubling every year.

Everyone knows that voice technology and voice shopping is on the rise. However, I was surprised about the number of brands who hadn’t considered the implications of brand bypass.

Brand bypass in AI

Companies are using voice assistants, and piggybacking on the tech of Alexa, Google or Messenger to create specialised assistants. A good example of this is Diageo’s “Open the bar”, or Estée Laude offering nutritional advice, where you have the dialogue with the brand, not Alexa. This is one way for brands to avoid the brand bypass.

It’s a big issue. I spoke to a lot of people about the new B2B: bot to bot. In the future new AI applications will take over interaction, negotiation and even advertising which will lead to the elimination of choice for consumers. Just think it through: the first brand you choose comes into your connected home, and there are going to be many barriers to switch that brand out for another.

Imagine your fridge has image recognition. It knows what brands you have on the shelves so when you run out of juice, the fridge and home AI reorder the same juice for delivery. So when are you going to switch brands? It’s going to take significant energy to get in the way of that bot to bot transition.

Brand bypass in voice

Another example is that we will order through voice but not mention a specific brand. This means our AI will default to our usual choice. Appliances are partnering with cleaning brands so they can already come pre-programmed to order specific chemicals such as detergent or dishwasher tablets.

Finish, smart dishwasher

It’s clear we need to understand how to use these technologies to create stronger brand and emotional connections, and also how these technologies can allow people to switch brands when they know something better is available.

Brand bypass in image recognition

Brand bypass is also an issue in image recognition. Google had an enormous stand at DMEXCO showing image recognition technology. I checked it out and it was a surprise to me to see how many brands had not considered the impact of this. Not least the value of the data which the image search platforms will generate. They will know exactly what people are searching for and buying to a highly accurate level. This sort of data can impact the manufacturing chain. Pinterest gets around 600,000 visual searches a month, so consumers are ahead of brands on this!

All the ambient technologies were on show at DMEXCO. For me, voice is where the action is. Primarily because the car will drive voice adoption. New cars are increasingly voice enabled, so when you leave the car and don’t have that assistance, you’re going to miss it!avoiding brand bypass in voice activated cars

Ambient tech awareness

Strangely, as I talked people through the implications of voice, AR and AI technologies, the most common question I was asked was “is this out now?”

Many people, senior brand marketers among them, didn’t realise how these ‘futuristic’ things were actually here now, even in a mature market like Germany. And where there was some awareness of ambient tech, there was very little first-hand experience.

It reaffirmed the role the Home plays in telling the story of ambient technology, which is essential if brands are going to build effective consumer relationships and deliver effective, relevant and timely advertising. The future of advertising is already here!

Unruly futurists Elena Corchero and Leo Bernard

Find out more about our connected home, and book in a tour with one of our Futurists.

It’s less than 3 weeks to go until Cannes Lions 2017 kicks off, and we could not be more excited here at Unruly.  

Cannes presents more opportunities for networking and learning than the rest of the industry year combined – and the Lions Innovation events are even more enticing for tech enthusiasts, with sessions on everything from artificial intelligence (AI) to robotics.

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The connected home is the new tech playing field and a fresh marketing landscape – a blank canvas – that presents opportunities and risks for marketers.

These opportunities depend on brands understanding the latest technologies and how to deploy them in acceptable ways to win the hearts – and custom – of people at home. (more…)

In case you hadn’t heard – we unveiled our exciting new Home project this week.

To mark the occasion we thought we’d show you five of our favourite recent ads for the connected home and IOT devices.

Kicking off the list is a great ad from Roost, whose wi-fi enabled connected batteries can be slotted into pre-existing smoke alarms to make them ‘smart’.

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