The final day of Advertising Week New York 2019 offered a wide range of insights, from the importance of “saves” as a metric on Instagram to the fact many ads fall short in their depictions of mothers.

As a brief guide to some of the important themes that emerged on the event’s fourth day, WARC’s reporters identified various lessons and knowledge points that were delivered from the stage:

Depictions of women and mothers falling short
“We have stopped a lot of commercials from airing – commercials you will never see – due to some of the research that we’ve done. Because 30% of mothers can identify something that, based on the portrayal of women or the portrayal of mothers in advertising, they are actually offended by” – Spencer Gerrol, CEO of neuroscience research firm Spark Neuro, highlights a common failing in ads.

Understanding what metrics matter
“One of our strongest equity metrics that leads directly to purchase is, ‘The best in sport use Gatorade.’ If our athletes, if our consumers, believe that, we know that delivers a really strong push towards purchase” – Jill Abbott, head/consumer and athlete engagement for Gatorade, outlines a vital success indicator for the brand.

Telling stories like a “soap opera”
“What we do best is tell stories … It’s not just our games. It’s the stories within them. It’s the team stories. It’s the player stories ... In a lot of ways, we are akin to a soap opera. Even our off-season, following free agents, trades, and winter meetings – those are made-for-Twitter-type experiences” – Dominick Balsamo, vp/global media and business development at Major League Baseball (MLB), on the sport league’s storytelling formula.

Clockwise: Jill Abbott (Gatorade), Dominick Balsamo (MLB) and Spencer Gerrol (Spark Neuro)

Branded content can be valuable in its own right
“Branded content is only branded content when it’s bad” – Ed Romaine, CMO of sports website the Bleacher Report, highlights the fact that branded content can be as valuable as any other material if it is executed properly.

Social media is a win for fashion and luxury
“More so than any other category, fashion and luxury brands are seeing the highest return in terms of growing their audience for every time they post on social platforms” – Meghan Cahill, vp/client success at social analytics platform ListenFirst, on the categories that get the largest rewards from social media.

Tracking intent on Instagram
“‘Saves’ is a newer metric compared to traditional ‘likes’ and impressions and comments. But it’s a really important metric that indicates intent. Your content left some sort of mark on someone, where they’ve decided to save it and they’re going to go back to it” – Sophia Lief, senior manager/global social media at fashion brand Michael Kors, flags up an important metric for Instagram and similar platforms.

Getting eSports into the experiential mix
“We got presented with a festival that was eSports plus music. And we were like, ‘This is great; this is something we want to get into.’ And they couldn’t sell tickets. We can’t quite figure out how to take eSports and mix it with any of our other passion points. And that’s a challenge for us; it’s a challenge for the space in general” – Nick Kelly, vp/partnerships, beer culture and community at brewer AB InBev, points to a key challenge for eSports properties.

Clockwise: Meghan Cahill (ListenFirst), Sophia Lief (Michael Kors) and Nick Kelly (AB InBev)

Agencies should make clients uncomfortable
“The role of an agency is to create uncomfortableness around ideas and get clients to do something they haven’t done before. And we need to get clients to do that with some nobility, as well. People will back companies with a strong sense of purpose”– Jon Wilkins executive chairman at Karmarama, an agency owned by Accenture Interactive, outlines how companies in the industry can thrive.

Strategy is forever
“An agency can outsource finance, HR and buying. And machines are going to get involved in the creative process, using data as well as insights form clients that describe a problem. But strategy has to be at the core of any agency” – Ivan Pollard, CMO of food manufacturer General Mills, highlights the enduring importance of strategy to the agency toolkit.

Left to Right: Ivan Pollard (General Mills) and Jon Wilkins (Karmarama)

“A brand without trust is just a product. And, indeed, advertising without trust is just noise” – Keith Weed, president of UK trade body the Advertising Association, and formerly chief marketing and communications officer at consumer goods firm Unilever, talks about the risks of declining trust in advertising.

Want to get the latest analysis and thought leadership presented at key conferences worldwide? Find out how.