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AdWeek 2023: A View From With

I recently attended AdWeek Europe as part of With’s digital delegation.

This year’s show was all about stepping forward in a world where we have emerged from the pandemic into a challenging year filled with recession and political turmoil. It was a packed agenda filled with the greatest minds from brands, agencies, media, and technology, all debating the most pressing issues shaping our industry. This year, it was great to see a mixture of so many creative and tech focused sessions!

Day One

Day one kicked off with a talk from Ruth Mortimer, Global President at Advertising Week, about creative strategy. Leaders from Expedia, Google, and Smartly, shared key insights into how creativity is the biggest lever in driving the performance of digital marketing campaigns. Leaders also discussed the drawbacks of using AI such as Chat GPT. Although these tools are powerful in automating some processes, they felt there is a far way to go in terms of authenticity. 

Next up was Amy Pearce from Wunderkind, on why non-disruptive ads are key to industry survival. Amy weighed in on why the future of advertising is much kinder and less disruptive.  I loved that Amy’s talk was filled with data from recent research. Publisher content used to be standard traditional banners with a click through rate of around 40%. In their research, Wunderkind found that 60% of respondents now completely ignore online banners – the times are changing.

Day Two

Day two was equally brimming with insight. Melinda Spence, Head of Global Insights at Activision Blizzard Media, discussed the impact of quality gameplay experiences as she presented new research which explored what makes a premium ad gameplay experience. Key takeaways included:

  • Games and ads need to closely align with the expectations of players 
  • 61% of people want mobile games with high quality graphics. Mobile advertisers should apply: high quality graphics, challenging gameplay, and price into their advertisements as this leads to a high quality exchange 

Did you know that data inequality is a form of racism? To finish up, we had Shelina Janmohamed, Director for Consumer Equality at Ogilvy Consulting, speak about how brands need to tackle the way they approach racism. If you as a brand do not know what a specific audience/group of consumers wants, you are erasing them as consumers. Ultimately, a rise in consumer equality leads to growth in business success and in turn, a thriving society.

Day Three

My personal highlight of day three was the BBC Click Live: A.I Special. Spencer Kelly and Lara Lewington, presenters and technology journalists at BBC, discussed the creative side of A.I in an interactive session. Audience members acted as prompt engineers in creating an A.I generated piece of art which was great fun to watch. As we know, A.I tools such as Chatp GPT have been a hot topic this year for the advertising industry. In a fun and engaging session, it was interesting to see its use live in action.

To bring the three day event to a close, I tuned into Andy Fowler’s session, founder of creative agency Brothers and Sisters, about the birth of the Grenfell Athletic Football club. He gave practical tips on how brands can meaningfully and powerfully impact local communities. Speakers such as Rupert Taylor, founder of Grenfell Athletic, talked about the importance of belief and passion in creating a brand and how this is vital in overcoming challenges. It takes authenticity, values, and time – it doesn’t happen overnight.

AWEurope 2023 was a great experience where I learnt critical new skills and found inspiration. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

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