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Cannes Lions 2023: AdTech Dominates At The World’s Biggest Creative Meet

Cannes Lions ad tech PR

As summer blooms along the French Riviera, the world’s leading creative talents are gathering once again for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Amid the celebrations, one phrase echoes along the beaches and luxury yachts — “Adtech is taking over Cannes Lions.”

Okay, so maybe people aren’t shouting about tools and software for advertisers. Yet as a PR agency with deep roots in adtech, we’ve been tracking Cannes Lions for years. What have we seen? A striking surge in adtech’s prominence at this global event. It’s clear: the adtech sector is wielding increasing influence during Cannes Lions.

Have your eyes on Cannes this week? Here are four ad industry and adtech trends to watch during Cannes Lions 2023.

Tech giants show resilience

With layoffs and economic pressures in recent times, big tech platforms like Google, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft are showing a “toned down” approach to their Cannes Lions presence this year. Despite the economic downturn, these giants remain key players at Cannes. They might be limiting the glitz for customer events, but their presence reaffirms the prominence of technology brands in today’s advertising landscape.

Creators and influencers shine

This year, Cannes Lions is becoming a hotspot for creators and influencers. The creator economy, valued at over $104 billion by some estimates, is projected to reach $200 billion by 2026. It’s not surprising that marketers and brands are eager to connect with celebrity creators and those who are rising stars.

However, according to reporting from Forrester, #ads are “just the tip of the iceberg” when it comes to creator marketing in 2023. As advertisers look to embrace this creator-led world with new techniques, like embedding brands into communities, and old ones, like affiliate creator marketing, we expect to see more adtech brands moving to make those campaigns easier to buy, manage and analyze.

While many expect to see creators like Jameela Jamil, Alexandra Cooper, and others making waves on the main stage, we’ll also be looking for how adtech brands are moving to support a shift towards more personalized, influencer-driven campaigns.

AI technology is everywhere

Many expect AI technology to dominate conversations at Cannes Lions this year (Yahoo! Fiance’s Brian Sozzi has already called the “AI hype bubble” at Cannes “out of control.”) But the prominence of AI talk at Cannes is with good reason: This year’s rapid adoption of tools like ChatGPT has sparked a discussion about the potentials — and risks — of AI in the advertising business, even before the festival kicked off.

The discussions around AI’s creative possibilities and its role in driving business growth may provide insights into the future trajectory of adtech. As Oli Marlow-Thomas, Chief Innovation Officer for hinted in a piece for The Drum, though what can be created with AI is impressive, we are still uncovering how it could be used to better manage ads. “While it’s now easy to generate beautiful content at the snap of a finger … the challenge is how to apply it across the consumer journey and actually breakthrough to customers with it? The key will be using AI technology, such as generative AI, to know when to serve creative, and how to scale and optimize for the best results.”

Corporate activism drives brand positioning

Increasingly, companies are realizing that standing for something can have significant implications for their brand. Cannes Lions 2023 will witness a discussion about corporate activism and how it influences brand perception. This includes how businesses navigate viral backlash, privacy laws, AI, and the metaverse to connect with audiences in meaningful ways.

From tech giants showing their resilience in the face of economic pressures to the rising significance of creators and influencers, expect this year’s Cannes Lions to showcase not only the biggest creative trends in advertising but also the adtech powering the industry.

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