VentureFuel Photo from ANA Masters in Orlando, FL


Last week, nearly 3,000 advertising industry execs descended on Orlando for the 2018 ANA Master of Marketing Conference, with a who’s who of CMOs sharing their growth stories. Below are 3 key trends that emerged from best practices shared by respected brands like Amex, Deloitte, Denny’s, AB InBev, Xerox and more. To help ensure you leave this article with a few next steps to drive results, I included a few startups to help seize upon each trend.

Lead The Disruption

The pace of technology is dizzying and as Beth Comstock, former vice chair of GE, warned in her new book, “The world will never be slower than it is right now.” Marketers need to solve the challenges of keeping pace with pioneering technologies, disruptive competitors emerging each day and, of course, follow their consumers as they fragment into new worlds, platforms and niches. Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer and ANA Chair advised “The best way to deal with disruption is to lead it.” But, in one of the most popular sessions, investment banker Terry Kawaja of Luma Partners countered, “If you marketers are sitting out there and still think you can be cool and launch your own D2C brands, think about a middle-aged white man trying to dance.” So, what is a marketer supposed to do? How can you lead the disruption, without the over-bite inauthenticity? Jill Estorino of Disney advised, “Legacy brands need to keep up with innovation to be strongly positioned in the future” and Greg Revelle of Kohl’s warned, “The barrier to entry is zero, new concepts are coming every day” and advised brands to “think differently. Try stuff.” From our experience, you need to make a few simple decisions. Do you want to build, buy or partner with startups and new tech (or some sort of combo of each). Then you need to create a repeatable innovation process where you receive a pipeline of targeted startups and technologies that are on-strategy for your business. This enables you to future proof your business and capitalize on trends quickly without assuming monster costs and failures of betting on one-startup. CMOs, as Progressive CMO Jeff Charney put it, need to embrace the “most feared four-letter word…risk.”

Here are a few startups and technologies mentioned on stage in Orlando that we recommend looking into. Most importantly, you should get startups and technologies that are specific to your business, challenges and desired outcomes.

Laura Macdonald of Hotwire, brought up 2 growing platforms we like: and and advised that brands “think about those new platforms, before the kids move on again.”

Jill Baskin of Hershey brought up partnerships she has tested to “melt the difference between us” with and a VentureFuel favorite

Phill Drapeau of Keurig mentioned which is a 2018 CES Innovation Award winner that Keurig partnered/invested in.


Walled Gardens and Wasted Dollars

With the FBI investigating media agencies, the UK and California pressuring the tech giants on transparency and privacy, the discussion zeroed in on big data and why it isn’t delivering for CMOs. Bob Liodice, CEO of the ANA, pointed out that, “Just 25% of CMOs’ digital media investment reaches target audiences,” he said. “This atrocity represents more than $20 billion of marketing waste annually and the inefficiency and ineffectiveness that comes with it.” He also cited ad fraud, saying it was costing the industry $7 billion annually. The walled gardens of Facebook and Google don’t talk to each other and in some cases, they don’t even talk within their own walled gardens; as one CEO explained to me, YouTube and Google don’t actually share data, because of the potential monopoly implications. So how can you utilize big data across vendors, over walled gardens and minimize wasted dollars? Here are a few startups that might help:— identity-based data on-boarding. Focused on deterministic matching and identity resolution, empowering brands with true individual-based marketing, guarantees the highest level of accuracy, scale, and responsiveness for our clients.— allows you to acquire new customers, through your existing customers’ behavior. Evolve from simple data to a precise diagnosis with prescriptive recommendations on how to grow your brand — all based on state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms.— uses audio and visual recognition technology, providing you with real-time insights on how your content is seen, used and edited across all major platforms.

You can read part 2 of this article here.


About VentureFuel, Inc.

VentureFuel helps companies around the world unlock growth by partnering with startups and breakthrough technologies. Our innovation programs solve specific challenges, deliver tangible results and discover first-to-market opportunities from the Museum of Ice Cream to the latest pioneering technologies. We are 100% independent, sourcing from our global network of the best investors, scouts, founders and academics to find only what has sustainable and scalable impact for our clients. Learn more at:

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