After a year of eager anticipation, the fifth edition of Advertising Week LATAM has come and gone—and let me tell you, it was worth the wait. Organized annually by Insider, this event brings together the bright minds behind the world’s biggest brands and agencies to discuss the latest news and opportunities in our industry, both in Latin America and beyond. This year, in particular, the Papalote Museo del Niño in Mexico City was the place to be.
I always look forward to Advertising Week LATAM as it’s a rare opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues face-to-face—and in the city I call home, no less. Despite partially coinciding with the Day of the Dead, I have to say the event was more alive than ever, as I bumped into every imaginable brand manager, marketing director, client and podcaster. Representatives from world-class brands like Netflix, Spotify, Toyota were in attendance, and not a single seat was empty by the time Sir Martin Sorrell stepped onto the stage. Needless to say, our time spent in meetings and attending (and hosting) a diverse range of sessions has left us with some valuable insights. Here are some of those takeaways.
As digital environments expand, AI is the key to maintaining brand relevance.
In today’s changing landscape, CMOs need to align strategies with transformative technology to optimize operations, improve customer engagement and drive conversion. That was the theme explored by our Co-CEO, Content Bruno Lambertini and Associate Vice President, Innovation Technology Carlos Tejeda as they took the stage on October 31. Rather than a conventional session, their discussion served as an exploration, beginning with an overview of the challenges that businesses encounter in the present day.
"We surveyed top CMOs from major global brands, and they all agreed on four key points,” Lambertini explained to introduce the topic. “Firstly, the complexity of making decisions and seeing short-term results. Secondly, the fragmented media landscape makes it difficult to determine which channels truly yield outcomes. Thirdly, the delicate nature of brand reputation. And last but not least, how do we take advantage of AI?”
The truth is that as digital environments expand, driving conversions can feel like finding a needle in a haystack. For Lambertini, social media is the key (and I wholeheartedly agree). As marketers, we constantly ponder how brands can secure or expand their market position, enhance brand equity and drive business performance in today’s technological context. The answer lies in two key aspects, the first of which can be summed up in one word: intimacy. No, not the romantic kind, but the kind that harnesses the power of genuine human connections and community. Audiences crave a sense of belonging, and by establishing a brand that fosters this feeling, we lay the foundation for success. An important consideration: social media is the only space where this can happen on a large scale. The second aspect involves how we achieve this.
We need to harness the power of AI in four key areas: insights, creativity, community management and measurement.
AI helps us understand what is organically happening online, what people care about and the spaces where they connect with each other, both within and outside the brand context. We can then use these insights to inform the creation of assets. “Working with Meta, we analyzed input drivers for our AI algorithm to generate the best result. This allowed us to produce 500 assets, so when the brand noticed creative fatigue in the campaign, we already had these new assets prepared and sorted by their probability of success,” Tejeda exemplified.
Furthermore, AI assists community managers by handling repetitive queries at scale, in real-time, and in a personalized manner. The cherry on top? AI enhances measurement by enabling us to extract learnings from a centralized source that connects platforms and contains information from all our marketing efforts.
In times of global uncertainty, activation and performance take center stage.
Speaking of the nature of AI, S4 Capital Executive Chairman Sir Martin Sorrell sat down with Insider’s Director, Matías Stetson, to chat about this particular topic as it relates to the prevailing macroeconomic and political conditions in the region. Amid global uncertainties and geographical fragmentation, Sorrell explained, businesses need to carefully pick their territories. He went on to say: “If I look at the world now, I’m very bullish on North and South America.”
The second consideration is digital transformation. With businesses becoming more cautious not only in choosing their markets but in their general spending, we need to look at digital platforms. “Clients are becoming much more short-term in their thinking, so activation and performance are important,” said Sorrell. “It is quite extraordinary that platforms are growing by 6-11% this year. The money from package goods companies has gone into the platforms, and the reason is that they see better performance, better activation, better measurements and better results from those platforms. AI is going to make them even more important than they are today.”
In summary, technological advancements and the current political and economic uncertainties have led brands to focus more on their short-term return on investment. Now, the competition revolves around acquiring and leveraging first-party data, which plays a crucial role in understanding consumer behavior and making informed business decisions. “To my mind, the best model is the Netflix model. They are the greatest proponents of hyper-personalization at scale,” said Sorrell.
The advice to CMOs is agility, taking back control, first-party data, and signals from the platforms.
That’s one of the areas where AI will have the most impact, as it transforms the way first-party data and platform signals are harnessed, decoded and utilized. When it comes to the realm of personalization and data-driven decision-making for brands, AI enhances brands’ ability to tailor their strategies to individual customers with precision and effectiveness. “We thought the web would drive personalization, but AI will take it to a totally different level. We may produce one and a half million creative assets. What took us three weeks, takes us three hours,” said Sorrell. This, coupled with the overall efficiency in areas like media buying, broadcasting and knowledge sharing, will shape the business models of brands and agencies in the years to come.
Across industries and platforms, creative effectiveness reigns supreme.
During the two-day event, Advertising Week emphasized the importance of creativity in exploring fresh opportunities for growth across various industries and sectors. An illustrative panel by Eucerin, featuring our very own VP Creative Pablo Tajer, showcased how creativity in retail media can yield impressive returns, even when collaborating with third-party ecommerce platforms.
To distill the role of branding in retail, the speakers used a recent example of our work with the brand on the Mercado Ads platform. “We used storytelling to demystify the abundance of information we see on social media and provided consumers with accurate recommendations based on their skin type,” said Tajer. “This sector thrives on ideas and creativity. That’s why we partner with Mercado Ads and constantly push the boundaries of creativity, working on different proposals for major advertisers in the region.”
To emphasize a similar point, our VP Creative Francesco Vicenzi joined our partners at KFC Mexico and representatives from IAB to spill their secrets on creating award-winning campaigns that gain international acclaim. The key ingredients? Data, which uncovers valuable insights; creativity, which generates captivating concepts; and a comprehensive vision that brings everything together. Vicenzi exemplified this through our work on KFC’s The Battle of the Chickens: “We began by noting two important observations. Firstly, rap and freestyle ranked among the top three genres for Gen Z. Secondly, Gen Z has a fondness for promotions and discounts. These served as our starting points, and we recognized that to effectively engage with Gen Z, we needed to empower them. Thus, we provided them with a platform and space to express themselves.”
Striking a balance between short-term results and long-term brand growth.
If there’s one thing I learned from this massive event, it’s that CMOs face numerous challenges that demand immediate results without sacrificing long-term brand development. They must find a way to achieve short-term goals while also making significant contributions towards a larger impact. Those who establish robust data pipelines and effectively leverage new technologies are gaining a competitive edge, propelling their brands far ahead of the competition. It’s time to seize every opportunity within the social and digital landscape in order to become more agile, perceptive and responsive.
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