Advertising Week is now in full force with more than 80,000 attendees (brands, digital agencies, marketers/advertisers, media companies and more) scurrying around the Big Apple hoping to gain or share some insights into the future of advertising. Lots of people, lots of panels, lots of networking, lots of parties – and Adobe is excited to be a part of this event again with our biggest presence ever! As we posted earlier this week, Adobe has lots going on here so stop by our Advertising Week Experience (AWE) booth, attend our panels (in-person or via live stream) and join the conversation on Twitter using hashtags ‘#AWIXAdobe’ and ‘#AdValue’.

Today, Adobe’s Justin Merickel, senior director of new product innovation for Advertising Solutions, spoke on a panel around whether digital advertising is delivering on its full potential. It’s a loaded question, but chiming in with Justin was:

  • Dave Clemans, Executive Creative Director, TAXI
  • Scott Sorokin, Global Digital Leader, MindShare
  • Steven Cook, CMO, and former CMO, Samsung Electronics NA

As moderator Shareen Pathak, AdAge and Creativity reporter, summed up: In the digital era, advertising has never had more impact or been more provable in terms of delivering results. Gone are the days of “half of my advertising spend is wasted; I just don’t know which half.” In fact, new developments in digital not only offer more opportunity for creativity and brand engagement across more channels than ever before, but also offer insight into how it’s working and driving the business.

The lively Q&A evoked varied responses from the panelists, but everyone agreed that a balance of data with creativity sparks the most successful ad campaigns – driving the best ROI for brand marketers by reaching the right people, who hopefully make a “conversion” by becoming a customer, member, etc. This is a topic we’re very passionate about since creativity is at the core of Adobe’s DNA, but we’re also building a major portion of our business on digital marketing where data is king.

When asked about what the perfect “digital advertising campaign” would look like, several panelists noted that it wouldn’t be about digital, but focused on reaching people at eye-level and optimizing itself over time across several touch points. As Cook commented, “It’s about getting into someone’s head and changing their behavior. Digital and social present so many more ways to engage with consumers and inform brands.” Around whether “data is killing creativity,” Merickel said, “Creative [assets] need to iterate with ideas based on data which can inform campaigns,” while Steven Cook cautioned, “Just because we have ‘big data’ doesn’t mean we should use all of it. A big part of this [advertising] business is still intuitive, which means you should embrace big, creative ideas even if you don’t initially have data to back them up.” Meanwhile, Sorokin added, “We need data to be actionable, which is where creative comes into play. But with so much data, you need the right minds analyzing it. I imagine a day when a marketing analyst has a seat at the table with a marketing/brand director.” Clemans asserted, “Creatives like me love data! Data is the feedback mechanism that’s telling me whether I’m doing my job. It can help shift perspectives and drive ROI.”

The conversation continued to flow around how data provides insight, which informs future campaign direction, but advertisers need to remain nimble and realize that campaigns need to evolve over time. The elephant in the room that closed out the chat was around social marketing and metrics. What represents good social engagement and which social metrics should marketers use to read engagement levels? Clemans made a good observation: “Facebook ‘Likes’ quantify something, but what? It’s great if people ‘Like’ your brand, but how are you engaging with them? You’re building a brand with followers.” Merickel noted, “As a marketer, [Facebook ‘Likes’] allow brands to engage with consumers. But you have to look at follow-on engagement. ‘Likes’ should not be the only social campaign metric. Are friends sharing your content, engaging regularly, etc.? Those are the types of things to look at as well. As brand marketers, we need to look at a series of metrics that help us reach the outcomes we want to achieve, evaluate those metrics and tie them to optimization.”

What do you think – is there too much data out there that it’s hurting creativity? Do you see value in social advertising? What obstacles get in the way of a perfect campaign? Hit the comments and let us know.

More recaps to come tomorrow and Thursday on other Adobe panels. Follow us at @AdobeDigMktg and @AdobeAds or check us out on Facebook for our latest updates from Ad Week NY!