The Future Is Now

At this year's 4A's Transformation Conference, I caught up with a great group of friends. Many are advertising legends, trailblazers who have owned, led and transformed their agencies to greatness. Some are new to it all, disrupting our industry in inventive ways that many of us can learn from. A special group who all come together without any hint of pomp and circumstance.

If you weren't able to make it to Austin earlier this week, here are the insights all marketers should take away from the industry's most important conference:

Strangers Make the Best Influencers.

There's no standard definition of what makes good content anymore. Which means there's no defining who's ultimately in charge of creating good content. We must accept - and embrace - that we're in a brand new era of content creation. One where we must develop guidelines for brands, and then align with creative influencers to produce and share messaging on our clients' behalf. Collaborators OMD & PepsiCo agreed when they struck their partnership last year that in order to succeed as authentic storytellers, they'd need to be comfortable giving up control of the brand narrative to the consumer. And disruptors like TheAmplify have mastered this new path to engagement through an army of Instagram influencers, most recently through a massively successful augmented reality experience for Divergent.

Real Time Is the Right Time.

We need to work toward a future where we can deliver up highly customized brand engagements that unfold uniquely over time. Depending on mindset and behaviors we can serve up messages that are completely tailored for true one-to-one marketing. Programmatic media will provide a critical conduit, as we look for ways to make that impression with the right consumers.

And we must keep developing real-time, relevant, sharable content that makes sense, too. Because we live in a world that's overloaded with content, where consumers have to choose what to engage with, so real time reaction is one clear trigger for response. Whether they're watching the Oscars or March Madness, consumers will respond more to content that's specifically tied to real-time moments, in time. Which is why EA's Sports Giferator was such a massive success.

A Social Media Movement Can Move People.

There are 80 million Millennials in the US alone. And they've never been more willing to engage with issues they care about. People will align themselves with what they believe in, if they are empowered, inspired...and if joining the movement is easy. Now more than ever brands should align with causes that people - and particularly Millennials - care about. From #GivingTuesday to The United Nations Global Survey for a Better World, Millennials are ready, willing and making themselves available. The time to act is now.

Play. Fail. Play Again.

And finally, acclaimed film director Robert Rodriguez shared his take on creativity, and I couldn't have felt more inspired. For him, work has always been synonymous with play. And when he's played, he's done it with little time and little money, which has just allowed him a canvas for being even more creative. And sometimes, he's failed. But to him, failure is ok, because if you're not failing, you're clearly not trying hard enough. That guy lives every day being as creative--and as inventive--as possible. He should inspire us all to never stop thinking. To never stop pushing. And to never stop playing.

I left Transformation 2015 feeling, well, transformed. I'll take these learnings, and bring them back to the makers and storytellers whom I challenge every day to think differently for ourselves and our clients. And I'll continue to give them permission to fail. Because if we keep working towards getting it right for our clients, well, that's when we'll truly begin to transform our industry.

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