Last month the 64th International Festival of Creativity, Cannes Lions, once again made its presence known on the French Riviera. Regarded as the go-to festival for the media industry – with attendees ranging from marketing and media executives to well-known faces including Ed Sheeran, Fatboy Slim and Dame Helen Mirren – the team from GingerMay PR made sure they were in the thick of the action.

The festival is known for its ‘work hard, play harder’ reputation, but this year saw a slightly more sober affair with companies on their best behaviour as the focus was brought back to business. The notorious Daily Mail yacht – one of the main attractions from past events, renowned for its lavish parties, entertainment and guests – was noticeably missing from the Palais. Dominating the skyline instead was Snapchat’s ferris wheel-shaped advert, achieving 100% viewability.

Branded as the place to do business, get deals done and solve problems creatively, key industry concerns such as transparency and diversity were popular subjects. So, what were the key takeaways from our week on the Croisette?

Less crap, more craft

P&G’s chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, has said it before and said it again this year – “there’s still a lot of crap in advertising”. Emphasising the need for advertisers to turn their attention to content and focus on quality over quantity.

Adverts appearing next to irrelevant articles or questionable content is only going to damage the brand. Eliminating lower quality placements and focussing on higher quality content will drive growth. But sifting through and defining what is “quality” takes time, money, and plenty of elbow grease.

People are worried (but excited) about data

Data was a hot topic of discussion at Cannes Lions 2017, particularly in the Creative Ethics of Cognitive Intelligence panel on day three, which was centred around the responsibility of marketers to protect the huge amount of users’ personal data they end up in possession of.

Dita Von Teese’s music taste came under the spotlight as part of Spotify’s session on metadata. Adam Bly, Spotify executive, was particularly keen to emphasise the granular nature of the data that goes into the streaming service’s user recommendations – with over 100 billion data events processed each day.

Use of the data collected and how it effects consumers was also discussed – an issue for the entirety of the adtech industry as we seek ways to progress past privacy and transparency concerns. This is particularly relevant this year as we prepare for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to come into force.

Out with the old, in with the new

There was a feeling of change at this year’s Cannes Lions with buzzwords such as virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) popping up everywhere. They are by no means new terms, but VR is only recently making that leap into the mainstream, and advertisers are understandably keen to invest in these larger projects.

A heavily discussed topic proved to be the role of new media and what it means for publishers. Day two of the festival saw this topic thrust into the spotlight, with plenty of mention of social media and understanding the culture behind platforms. The key question everyone kept asking triggered a strong sense of déjà-vu – how do advertisers and publishers stay ahead of audiences that are migrating to new methods of content consumption? It’s not a matter of traditional media dying, or having to fight against the rise of new media, rather it’s about diversity. The message is clear: embrace new platforms and seek out opportunities through collaboration.

Tackling the era of misinformation

David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, tackled the issue of fake news in his Cannes Lions presentation. Comparing “untruth” to pollution, he admitted it is something we will never actually be rid of, but something we should strive to improve. On the hunt for truth, the concept of fake news is blurring the lines between fact and fiction, so publishers, brands, and content creators must consider how they can retain a trustworthy voice.

New technology is constantly reshaping the media scene, an evolution which will continue to intrigue as the world of adtech diversifies. Cannes Lions proved there are exciting times ahead, and at GingerMay we’re confident this era will be relabelled the era of opportunity.