by Ritika Puri

Every month, Pumpt publishes two roundups that explore the fast-evolving world of advertising and digital media. August is especially interesting because two things are happening in the industry: (1) we’re transitioning out of summer, which has historically been a time of innovation for the industry and (2) we’re on the verge of ramping up into a Q4, end-of-year storm in which advertising competition heats up. Many retailers have already allocated preliminary ad spend for October and beyond.

This roundup will prep you with the trends that our industry needs to know from this past summer, to finish the year strong.

Brands are making bolder political statements—with hits and misses

Advertising is inherently entwined with sociology. In today’s political climate, brands are beginning to ask important questions about their long-term narratives. What role do companies have in fueling social dialogue? The short answer: everything. That’s why Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad, in which she hands a can of soda to a police officer at a protest resembling Black Lives Matter marches, spurred such backlash—the public viewed this ad as disrespectful of the Black Lives Matter movement.

But instead of focusing on what brands are getting wrong in the summer of 2017, let’s focus on campaigns done well, like this Johnnie Walker ad that features the company’s first female protagonist, a still of which is shown above. The lesson learned? Every image matters. Every move matters. If your brand feels compelled to make a political statement, with positivity as the ultimate goal, it will be important to bring in perspectives from many sides. Diversity matters in ad tech, now more than ever.

Data-driven innovation is improving ad targeting precision

Personalization is the new vehicle for building connections online. But it’s a complex one to drive. Compared to other industries, digital media is in its infancy, and leaders have long-been figuring out how to better utilize assets that companies are generating.

One of these assets is data, and it’s the key to creating a strong online customer experience. That’s why we’re seeing brands taking innovative steps with their use of data analytics: companies such as Poker Central are going direct to consumer rather than relying on cable networks for distribution. This understanding of customer behavior empowers the organization to create more targeted ads that pique their customers’ interests.

Advertising data is a powerful asset that can help inform product and marketing decisions. Ad tech professionals have understood this capability for years but have lacked the resources to make this vision a reality. In the summer of 2017, companies have quietly accelerated their data-driven targeting capabilities.

Digital is returning to its low-tech roots

Savvy advertisers are incorporating a mix of data, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning capabilities in their campaign strategy—years of innovation in the field are giving rise to sophisticated targeting. With technology, however, comes a risk to empathy.

Intelligent data science has the potential to manifest itself as thoughtlessness. What if your creative team decides to take a risk in delivering a political message but misses the mark? How can you ensure that your message will reach people in an authentic way instead of seeming like a brazen ad?

These questions are sparking advertising leaders around the world to adopt more paper-based research techniques of times past, studying the foundations of human interactions. As we enter the busiest months of the year, there will be an increased emphasis on keeping marketing human.

Stay tuned to the Pumpt Blog for more insight into the pulse of the digital media world.