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Advertising Week: In Retrospect

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Advertising Week or, as it's called, "The Week," has wrapped up. This year's week-long program of seminars, panels and events had a bit of a different perspective. With the first-ever AWE Stage, the notion that technology has to work collaboratively with creative was impossible to ignore. You saw push-notification companies, social data software, digital agencies and mobile ad networks all in one collective place. That's a huge step for the advertising industry, which is steeped in old tradition. It's no surprise that the words "mobile advertising" were more prevalent this year than ever before. In just about every panel and every sidebar conversation, it was clear that a brand's old-school way of messaging to consumers has all but died. The old-reach metrics are gone. Instead, all brands are consumed with the need to understand and master the art of properly inserting a brand into the consumer's life. That may sound harsh, but it's the new reality -- consumers now spend so much time engaged in a digital relationship with their surroundings, their friends, their destinations, their loved or hated celebs, sports teams, authors and yes, brands.

So here are the top 5 things I saw and heard at "The Week."

1. Mobile devices have now put brands closer than they've ever been to their consumers. Literally, brands are in consumers' hands all day, every day. We can touch our brands, or even swipe them away. But brands haven't figured out the best equation to understanding the mood of mobile consumers. Do they want to "receive" something? Are they seeking entertainment in the form of video content on their tablet? For brands wanting to engage mobile on-the-go consumers (who may be more interested in using their GPS to find the location of their business meeting) with a 15-second video, that could very well be a lost consumer. Know who your consumers are, where they are, where they're going and what they want.

2. All brands need to understand the new way consumers spend their time. TV users are less engaged, as they tune out TV ads in favor of checking their mobile devices.

3. The one-to-one marketing mantra of the past is no longer the culmination of a brand's marketing desire. Consumers are connected, and if a brand does find a way to influence a consumer, that consumer is one click away from his or her contact list, Facebook post or Twitter account. Any relationship that a brand develops with the consumer needs to be positive or it will be shared in a bad light. Conversely, if consumers have a positive experience with a brand, the reward is an extended invitation into that consumer's personal connected world.

4. The mobile and social "stuff" is difficult. There's no getting around that. So we better do the "work" to figure out how to leverage mobile and social to improve and simplify people's lives.

5. Marketers now have more data than ever before. Let's stop looking for a way to make data "sexy" or to find out "how we did." Let's listen to it, understand what's working and not working, and then act on it to reach consumers more effectively.

I would like to say Advertising Week this year took a big first step. But it's just that -- and the only way we'll see creative, digital, social, mobile and technology all work together cohesively is if we keep taking steps and educating each other on what's possible.