This article was originally published on LinkedIn 10.06.15.

Last week, September 28, kicked off the 12th annual Advertising Week in New York City. The event had a lot to take in with 211 seminars, from over 900 speakers on 9 different stages, spanning over 4 days; attracting everyone involved in advertising from ad tech providers to brands, from agencies to publishers, there certainly was a buzz in the air.

Despite the myriad of topics discussed, there were definitely three hot topics or themes that stood out during Ad Week:

Reaching millennials
Millennials are seen as a challenging demographic because their media consumption habits are so different from previous generations. They are born technology-ready, have a different attention span and brand perception than their predecessors. Interestingly, millennials today are in fact a multi-faceted generation. Ranging in age from 18-34, millennials can vary from being a college freshman or parents with small children — all with very different interests. The key to reaching millennials then, is to not think of them as millennials at all (one giant demographic).  Brands need to understand millennials as audiences with different interests and traits, and adjust their marketing initiatives accordingly. As millennials shift their online habits, brands that want to keep up have to be willing to try new things [1] and find unique ways to reach their consumers to truly make an impact.

Omnichannel marketing
Partially driven by the millennial culture and the evolution of mobile devices, consumers are everywhere. They switch between devices, they browse on-the-go, and they seem to switch to a new social platform just as brands are catching up. Advertising has evolved into a complex medium. There is no longer a one-size-fits-all Big Idea in advertising, every brand; every audience requires a customized approach to be effective. Brands now need to think differently and leverage a multi-pronged approach to reach consumers on various mediums, to develop a great user experience for their customers [2]. In addition, brands need to keep their marketing mix fluid and ready-to-adapt as consumers change.

Diversity within our industry
Although we are a global advertising industry that spans worldwide, it still seems there are challenges of diversity at home. Women in the c-suite, minority races and identities are still statistically low in advertising. If our industry can recruit people with the talent and skills required, and provide equal opportunity in getting-to and staying-in leadership positions, we can break down the barriers within our own organizations and have a ripple effect on the advertising industry at large. Step one begins with raising awareness. The One Club, which coordinates events as part of Advertising Week has made great strides. Since its inception, The One Club has been championing diversity within our industry, and provides multicultural students and professionals with opportunities to network and explore careers in advertising. Recently, the IAB announced the launch of a new non-profit organization to drive diversity through education [3].

The honorary mention for runner up goes to…Ad Blocking [4]. It was a topic that seemed to make its way into every session and roused attention. The common solution seems to call advertisers and publishers to re-think why users are blocking ads in the first place: slow web page loading time, distasteful advertising, ad clutter, the list goes on. What are solutions that we can come up with, to provide the best user experience across all advertising formats? Some suggestions mentioned have included more native advertising, smaller display ad sizes, and enhancing a user experience with beautiful visuals and engaging ads that execute on opt-in to provide a user with choice.

The debate on these topics will certainly continue well after Ad Week, and leave our industry with many considerations in the coming year. Though trends and hot topics come and go, our industry is certainly facing a constant shift. Participating in these and other discussions will help fuel the next wave of change. Will you and your brand be approaching your marketing efforts differently?

If you did not have a chance to attend Advertising Week, you may replay any of the sessions on their website. Hope to see you there next year!