“Brilliant at the basics.” That’s how Netflix described its approach to consumer experience and advertising during Beet.TV’s Beet Retreat in the Berkshires 2023.

The phrase aptly captures the sentiment of many industry leaders, who are striving to balance the rapid evolution of technology and platforms with the need for consistent, high-quality consumer interactions.

Joanna O’Connell, EVP of Innovation at R3, who was at the conference, and shared her take on the discussions. “There was a lot of real talk and also a lot of enthusiasm,” she says. “It was a conference about the future, so you could find people (saying), ‘This is what we’re struggling with, but we’re wading through it.'”

O’Connell was particularly struck by a section on the future of customer connections. Netflix’s emphasis on mastering the basics resonated with her. “Some of the basics are where we’re doing a bad job, like managing frequency,” she points out.

Sitting down with Beet.TV, O’Connell summarized her takeaways from the event:

Buy-side themes

Collapsing Purchase Lifecycle

A key discussion revolved around the changing nature of e-commerce and how it impacts the relationship between brands and consumers. “How do you create meaningful connections when e-commerce is becoming more normal, which can create a disintermediation between the brand and the customer if they’re not able to sort of see it and touch it in the same way?” O’Connell ponders.

The Future of Agencies

Conversations around agency models and diversity were also significant. “I was very privileged to have conversations with some incredible leaders, many of whom happen to be women, around how you build diverse teams, how you embrace diversity in thinking and how much value that can create for the organization and for their clients,” O’Connell shares.

Outcomes Orientation

In recent years, many media buyers have begun to focus on actual ad outcomes. The notion of the ‘outcomes orientation’ emerged as a recurring theme at the conference, too. “There was an interesting conversation around an outcomes orientation – not just in how media is measured, but even in how we work,” O’Connell says, adding, “What does it mean to be outcomes-oriented as an employee inside the agency?”

Gnarly problems

The Ad Industry’s Carbon Footprint

Environmental responsibility and the ad industry’s contribution to carbon emissions were also discussed. “We are citizens of this planet and we all have a responsibility to make better decisions,” O’Connell stresses.

Future of Platforms and Data Identity

The conference also covered the future of platforms and data identity, exploring topics from the ‘future of television and addressability in television’ to ‘how does ID resolution work and why does that matter?’

A Vision of Nirvana

Despite acknowledging the numerous challenges and obstacles, O’Connell remains hopeful about the future of the media plan. “I think that the vision is beautiful and I appreciate it. Brands are spending money and they need to understand how that stuff is working, how it’s connecting with consumers, how it is moving their business forward,” she says

A Hope for Next Year

Looking ahead, O’Connell hopes the industry continues to focus on the consumer experience while making strides towards being better stewards of the environment.

“I would love to see a year from now, there be a real clear understanding of what the industry’s carbon footprint is and how we can start making material changes in managing that and lowering that,” she concludes.