Reflections After Cannes: How Brands and Agencies Partnered with YouTube

By Cenk Bulbul YouTube Insights Archives

Confession time. I've been a marketer for 15 years and this was my first year going to Cannes. I went because, as the head of Agency Marketing at Google, I wanted to know what questions my agency partners are asking, what keeps them up at night and what they're excited about in 2016. And I wanted to see if our approach was resonating with them.

Second confession: I'm not a natural networker, even in the south of France with a glass of rosé in my hand. So I was happy to find lots of interesting people to talk to at Cannes with informed, intelligent perspectives on the ad industry and how we can best serve our clients in a fast-changing world. I had enlightening and energizing conversations before and after nearly every panel or presentation I attended.

One of the main topics I discussed with industry folks is the findings my team uncovered in our Unskippable Labs experiments over the past year. In our Google world, these findings could have big ramifications for our industry, so I wanted to see what my non-Google friends thought. Here's the short version:

  1. Experimentation drives innovation. What are the big questions rolling around in your head as you sit through briefings, go about your day and talk to clients? Those are the things you should be experimenting on. Experimentation is all about asking big questions and testing to find new ways to do things.
  1. Digital video is easy if you're scrappy. No question, video that's made with digital in mind performs better. That doesn't have to mean new shoots, big budgets and a creative overhaul. It means just starting with online video in mind. That means video neutrality in ideas and stories. Several of the agencies we worked with have found resourceful ways to make this happen in our Unskippable Labs partnerships. What we found is making small tweaks to tailor the video creative for the platform can create big impact.
  1. There aren't any rules to break. The rulebook of online video is still being written, which is exciting for marketers. That means brands can build out new authentic experiences -- a common theme among this year's winners at Cannes -- to get chosen by consumers.

After a few days of good conversations, I was surprised to see that some of these learnings were not only resonating with our agency partners but also being brought up even before I mentioned them. The reality is that everyone likes the idea of experimenting and innovating, but the pressures of inertia and doing things the way they've always been done are massive and hard to avoid.

These days post-Cannes are the New Year's Day for our industry, a time to set resolutions and make plans for the coming year. My resolution for next year is continuing to partner with agencies and create awesome work with them. I look forward to another year of experiments, ideas and surprises.

You can read more about our learnings from Unskippable Labs on Think with Google.

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