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All About Identity: Key Takeaways from Cannes 2024

Image of the skyline at Cannes.

Another year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has come and gone. Over five days in June, thousands of marketers, ad tech professionals, creatives and publishers descended on the Croisette to discuss key challenges and opportunities present in the digital marketing landscape today.  

Read on to discover the three key takeaways from Cannes 2024 according to the TransUnion team.

Takeaway #1: Great creative will only take you so far.

Cannes Lions started as a festival celebrating the best work in advertising creative. The cornerstone of the event continues to be the Cannes Lions Awards — some of the most prestigious in the industry.  

But while amazing creative can certainly capture attention, it isn’t the only variable in the equation of marketing success. Equally (if not more) important is ensuring those messages get in front of the right people at the right time and place. 

As methods of measurement continue to advance, marketers are facing increased pressure to maximize the power of every dollar in their marketing budgets. While top-tier creative will draw eyes, it won’t result in many engagements if it’s delivered to the wrong people or seen in the wrong context.  

This is why audiences rooted in robust, next-generation identity are critical to the success of future digital marketing strategies. By finding your core audience across channels and touchpoints, marketers can start with a better understanding of who they’re trying to reach before a single word of creative copy hits the page. And with a more holistic view of where your customers or prospects are consuming media, you can also be better prepared to tailor your messaging to the medium. This in turn makes for a better experience for the end-user. 

This idea — The best creative wins. The right audience pays. – was at the core of the TransUnion presence at Cannes Lions this year,  so much so that it featured prominently on our first installation on the Croisette.

Takeaway #2: Commerce media’s upward trajectory is going absolutely vertical.

One of the more interesting refrains we heard at Cannes Lions this year was the old adage: “Everything old is new again.” This was especially true in conversations about data. 

With the deprecation of the third-party cookie on Chrome set to fully take effect next year, the digital marketing ecosystem is turning to first-party data to fill the vacuum. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise: First-party data comes from direct consumer interactions — which offers unrivaled targeting precision and feeds into better personalization experiences for end-users.

Historically, the problem with first-party data is there just hasn’t been enough of it. Even the largest brands in the world have limits on how much first-party data they’re able to leverage in their marketing efforts. This is why third-party cookies were so popular in the first place. They had the scale first-party data often lacked. 

Luckily, there are two solutions to this central drawback: One is the greater availability of advanced, privacy-safe data collaboration tools that allow marketers to pool their data resources. Two is the expanded availability of high-quality consumer data which can help marketers enhance, or fill gaps in, their own first-party data. 

Recently, much of that consumer data has been coming from commerce and retail. This is evident in the massive growth of commerce media over the past five years. According to a recent report from Insider Intelligence, retail media will make up fully one-fifth of all worldwide digital ad spend in 2024, with spend in the US topping $59.98B. 

And it makes sense why. With precise signals indicating customer intent and behavior, retail has pride of place among sources of consumer data. By leveraging identity technologies to connect the dots between their own first-party data and this treasure trove of retail consumer data, marketers can gain fresh insights into their customers and prospects — all without sacrificing scale. Given that, it’s no wonder why commerce media was the talk of the show.

Takeaway #3: Conversations were loud about the cloud.

It was uncharacteristically rainy at Cannes this year, so naturally there was a lot of talk about clouds.

And for good reason — Cloud-based collaboration and identity resolution offers myriad benefits over more traditional, server-based infrastructures. With limited data movement, involved parties can better protect their sensitive data assets — all while expanding their understanding of those assets in a matter of hours, rather than days or weeks. And without those handoffs, there are fewer opportunities for data quality loss, meaning match rates are generally much higher. 

But moving to the cloud doesn’t mean collaboration will be seamless. Ensuring all the different inputs a marketers may be ingesting to build a campaign end to end are speaking the same language is crucial  to realizing the full potential of marketing in the cloud. In a seaside chat at Cannes Lions, TransUnion SVP of Diversified Markets, Media & Entertainment Julie Clark sat down with Sam Bloom, Head of Partnerships at PMG, who put it best. 

“What’s happened over time is client data is now in a cloud. Publisher data is now in a cloud. Our identity partners and insights partners are in a cloud,” Sam said. “But what you’re seeing is you need a lingua franca for all those things.” 

In essence, if all the different marketing partners involved in a particular initiative aren’t speaking the same language, you’re going to end up with chaos. To combat this, it’s imperative marketers turn to solutions that are interoperable across clouds and can serve as a sort of Rosetta Stone, translating different inputs into a common language all involved parties can use.  

In doing so, marketers can make the most of their cloud-based campaigns and ensure their future performance outlooks are nothing but sunny. 

Wrapping up

One thing was crystal clear coming out of Cannes Lions this year: The future of precision marketing will be rooted in identity. 

Identity serves as a crucial through-line in the modern marketing process, expanding marketers’ understandings of their customers and prospects, enabling real views into performance across today’s complex media landscape — and fundamentally helping marketers better know the real people who make up their audiences. 

Ultimately, that’s what marketing is all about: people. It’s why we’ll continue to be excited about what the future holds for marketing — and why we’re already excited to see you at Cannes Lions next year. 


Do you have questions? Our team is ready to help.