This year’s Millennial 20/20 featured representatives from some of the world’s biggest brands, as well as its most exciting startups. Here’s what we learned, with an eye on the developments that will be shaping marketing this year:

For brands trying to reach millennials, trust and personalisation are paramount

Much of the event’s discussion revolved around how to reach generations X, Y, and Z – with a dedicated panel on Tuesday morning featuring representatives from McLaren, Stakla, Piaggio Group and Estee Lauder. The key takeaway? To younger audiences, it’s all about trust, authenticity, and personalised communication.

In short, the X-Z generations are more discerning than their predecessors, with a sharp eye for insincere and inauthentic messaging, and high expectations of brands and their content. What’s more, creating genuine, emotional engagements with audiences remains a key element of relationship building – and failing to recognise the importance of those one-to-one relationships will put brands at a disadvantage as we come to rely ever more on younger consumers.

Today, it’s not enough to expect to reach younger audiences with a single, generic message promoting a brand’s preferred narrative – instead, organisations must earn the respect of their consumers, and leverage that respect to achieve loyalty and word of mouth.

AI is gathering momentum

After spending a long time as something of a marketing black box, brands are beginning to talk openly about exactly how they are using AI to inform their marketing processes. At Millennial 20/20, we heard from Booking.com’s CMO Pepijn Rijvers, who revealed their plan to create a chatbot capable of processing complex property descriptions and turning out the perfect result based on machine analysis of images, descriptions and reviews.

Several other speakers and panelists also delved into the topic, exploring the applications of AI in developing audience understanding, distributing content at scale, and developing predictive models to achieve more effective targeting – while TATA Communications’ CMO Julie Woods Moss perhaps summarised one of the event’s biggest themes best: “If you’re going to learn one thing this year, learn about AI”.

Video continues to dominate

Any discussion around marketing ultimately raises the question of format, and video is still a driving force in 2018.

With engagement rates still higher than for any other content type, marketing efforts remain focused on extracting maximum value from video – be that by pushing the boundaries of personalisation, introducing new roles to support internal and external video production, or finding new ways to enhance the medium with new tech.

User generated content is growing up

Companies are learning how to extract value from user generated content – despite initial difficulties with filtering and quality control. With trust and personal relationships taking a central role in brand/consumer communications, those with audiences passionate enough to want to craft their own content to endorse brands are already leading the pack.

‘Unmanaging’ will be the next branding buzzword

Dropped into Tuesday morning’s Communicating Across Generations panel by EMEA’s Andy Mallinson, ‘unmanaging your brand’ captures the essence of the debate on the best ways to reach today’s contemporary audiences.

More specifically, it describes the decision to entrust your brand to your consumers – encouraging them to generate content and word of mouth which shapes your brand’s identity – rather than sticking to rigorously controlled content. Given the shift towards personalised connections between brands and users, and the growth of UGC, now seems like unmanaging’s time to shine. —

Spirable is a contextual video platform dedicated to empowering brands to build relationships with individual consumers. Our platform combines data with brand storytelling to create thousands of uniquely personalised messages as part of a single campaign – and distributes them automatically across social channels and CRM. Find out more about how contextual video can enhance your marketing.