Cannes Lions: Three key highlights on the industry and collaboration

This was my first opportunity to be a part of Cannes Lions. Cannes Lions is a five-day festival—now more than 66 years old—that explores and celebrates the value of creativity in branded communications and yes, it is in sunny Cannes, France. The event brings together people from all over the advertising world, including brands, agencies, and advertising technology partners like White Ops.

Thousands of creative people representing hundreds of brands participate. Some officially as part of the Cannes Lions programming of speaker sessions, training, award ceremonies, networking, parties, and others as attendees meeting with prospects and customers in every suite imaginable along the waterfront of the Mediterranean. White Ops had a significant number of meetings with customers and prospects, many of them based in New York City.

Somehow it is easier to meet with people at faraway events than it is meeting them a few blocks away in Manhattan. Meetings with friendly and creative minds from all over the globe would start in the early morning and go very late into the night. It just goes to show how busy we all are when we are in the offices. Cannes Lions has a way of slowing things down and opening people up.

In reminiscing this week about my first Cannes Lions experience, I had three major highlights I wanted to share:

1. The war on ad fraud was top of mind for all attendees

Earlier this year, we released our fourth Bot Baseline report with the ANA, which found that cybercriminals are stealing $5.8B annually from the global advertising industry in the form of ad fraud. That number is astronomical and we here at White Ops are committed to win this fight against ad fraud. At this year’s conference, it was clear that the war on ad fraud was top of mind for everyone. One great discussion on this topic occurred during a panel with Jeff Beer, Staff Editor at Fast Company and White Ops CEO and Co-Founder Tamer Hassan. The panel topic was called ‘Search and Rescue from Afghanistan to Advertising.’ The two talked about the biggest cybersecurity threats today, what brands and agencies should be thinking about when it comes to the new frontiers of fraud and how they can best protect themselves and their digital spend from cybercrime.

The discussion led to how Tamer and the White Ops team collaborated with the FBI, Google, Facebook and many others to help crack one of the most pernicious digital fraud schemes in history, called 3ve. Tamer and Jeff also got the chance to talk about Tamer’s time as a USAF search and rescue helicopter pilot and how that prepared him for his role in co-founding and leading White Ops. The missions are similar: Tamer is always trying to protect the good from the bad and stop the bad from spreading. Tamer’s drive to protect the good was recently recognized by Fast Company magazine as being the No. 1 Most Creative Person in Business in 2019.

Jeff Beer, Staff Editor at Fast Company and White Ops CEO and Co-Founder Tamer Hassan on stage at Cannes Lions

2. Keynotes at Cannes Lions are a big thing.

I got to see Sheryl Sandberg and Jeff Goldblum in keynote sessions.

This was the first time that I saw Sheryl Sandberg speak in person, and I can say that I was truly impressed. She shared both very personal and business stories and how they have impacted her life. You can tell she is deeply committed to Facebook and their mission; despite all the challenges they face in today’s complex real-time world.

Seeing Jeff Goldblum on stage was a hoot. He is both very intense and laid-back at the same time. You can tell he is enjoying his long career as an actor as well as a musician. His views on the future of entertainment, CTV and always on, always available content were interesting. He firmly believes in doing good work that includes content that enriches humanity and is what he strives for in everything he does.

Jeff Goldblum on stage at Cannes (Center)

3. It will take collaboration to win the war on ad fraud.

In a panel called White Hat Cannes: "Embracing Global Collaboration in the War Against Ad Fraud", leaders from the FBI and Europol, Google, Facebook, MediaMath, and White Ops (yes, all on one panel) discussed the role they played in the takedown of the massive botnet 3ve last fall. They shared their views on how global collaboration and playing the long game is the right approach and truly a blueprint for the future on how bot fraud can be stopped. In my 20+ years in marketing, I have never experienced a panel made up of heavy-hitters like this one.

Members of the panel included: Special Agent (FBI), Andres Ferrate, Chief Advocate for Ad Traffic Quality (Google), Rob Leathern, Director of Product Management (Facebook), Jeremy Steinberg, Global Head of Ecosystem, (MediaMath), Special Agent (Europol), and Tamer Hassan, Co-Founder & CEO (White Ops)

From networking with strategic partners, top tier brands and experiencing panel sessions set along the Mediterranean, Cannes Lions was certainly an event to remember. I look forward to forging ahead with the partnerships we established and those we strengthened as we continue our fight against the war on ad fraud.