Open Relationships

Open relationships,

creative connections


Forget traditional relationships. Today’s consumers want to keep things open. They expect to explore beyond one screen, one format, or one-size-fits-all messaging.


We’re into that. And we’re making it easier by sharing the audience-driven insights and innovations to upgrade your creative today. Dive into our multi-part series and find out how to break down boundaries, open new approaches, and give consumers what they want. Now, let’s get creative.




A Message From Shing

Hello friends,

Another celebration of the creative carnival that is Cannes Lions is fast approaching. Beyond the new categories at the awards, at the center of this circus is the barrage of ideas from brands all aimed at capturing the hearts and minds of people to buy more, consume more, be more. What’s changed since last year? You need to be in an open relationship.

That’s right. Today, people want to keep things open. They expect to explore beyond one screen, one format, or one-size-fits-all messaging. They crave experiences they can engage with on their terms. Content tailored to what they’re into. They want it exactly when, where and how they like it. And they’re challenging you—brands, agencies, publishers and developers—to walk the talk and get inventive.

So how do we get there? By breaking up with the old way of doing things and taking the necessary leap to embrace today’s progressive consumer. That means no more tone-deaf creative experiences that alienate the consumer (unless, of course, you’re excited by the prospect of foregoing nearly $22B in wasted global revenue thanks to ad blocking. Yeah, didn’t think so.1) Here’s how it’s done.

Get to know your consumer better than you know yourself.
54% of consumers “expect brands to really know and understand them as people.”2 There’s a lot of chatter about consumer-centricity through data, but it’s about time we separate what’s real from what’s snake oil. With nearly 70% of the world going mobile by 2016, a mix of creative thinking and true 1:1 data is imperative to reach audiences at the “person-level” no matter how they’re consuming media.3 And when I say 1:1, I mean validated data about who someone really is, not just who they declare themselves to be.

Content is everywhere, all the time, causing consumers to raise the bar.
61% of consumers don’t care if content is sponsored by a long as it’s good.4 But what makes content good to them? To find out, you need to relinquish control and open up your creative process to let the consumer become a branded content muse. Demographic and behavioral data are table stakes at this point. Harnessing insights that unearth consumers’ mindsets and motivations for consumption should be the new standard for content development.

The next generation of video technology is flourishing.
Consumers are embracing the massive rise of live, virtual reality and 360 video; 64% of them believe that viewing VR will be just as common as watching video on mobile devices today.5 Video today is authentic, real-time, unfiltered and is becoming democratized in a way that uniquely piques innate human interest like no other medium. Considering that 80% of all global traffic will be from video by 2019, opportunity is ripe to make the most of this quickly evolving form factor.6 Let’s not screw this one up.

So, let’s just get on with it. Out with the old, in with the new. If you want to start (or keep) winning those creative accolades, you have to embrace these trends and open up your relationship with consumers in a radical way. Or, stay in your comfort zone and taint the ecosystem with antiquated norms that push consumers to some other brand. While change is never easy, we’ll help you along by sharing insights and innovations to break down the boundaries, open your approach and give consumers what they want.

AOL Digital Prophet



1Adobe, The 2015 Ad Blocking Report, the Cost of Ad Blocking, 2015.
2Microsoft Advertising, U.S. Consumer Data Value Exchange, June 2015.
3GSMA, The Mobile Economy, 2015.
4AOL, Alchemy of Connection, 2015.
5AOL, Omnibus, February 2016 6 Cisco, Visual Networking Index: Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, 2015–2020.

Creativity comes in many forms, and they're all of interest to AOL's digital prophet, David Shing. Follow Shingy on a whirlwind tour of big ideas as he discusses everything from architecture to zen with some of the world's most imaginative minds.

Insights & Innovations

Advertisers and publishers that deliver personalization along the entire customer journey will win. The key? Data capabilities that streamline the experience from screen to screen and beyond.

Here are the top four reasons to focus on the unlikely—but awesome—friendship between data, automation and creative. Get in the know, and then explore what’s possible through our interactive demo.
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