2023 Cannes Lions Takeaways for OOH

From AI to sustainability to the creator economy, we’ve asked OOH experts to share their top takeaways from this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity and dissect what it all means for the OOH industry. Editor’s Note: Quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Innovation + Collaboration

“In a practical sense, the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is hundreds of moments of scheduled meetings, thought-provoking conversations, inspiring work from around the globe, creative spirit, and a flurry of serendipitous connections and reconnects – all energizing new ideas to build value for our partners, consumers, and brands. This year it was increasingly clear that it’s no longer about just the most creative campaign, who owns the content vs distribution, what data is available or on which platform it’s delivered. I heard most of the brightest lights at the festival talking about how it takes true collaboration, insights, and yes still creative inspiration, to keep advertising relevant into the future. There are too many ways to avoid advertising, too much content across too many platforms, a fixed amount of consumer time, declining reach and attention in many places and, overall, perhaps a long overdue reckoning that creative, context, measurement, attention and consumer connection matter more than ever. And the way to get there is through new collaborations that reimagine content, distribution, and context for consumers.” – Sean McCaffrey, President and CEO at GSTV

“The advertising world is rapidly changing and it’s important that we embrace innovation as an addition to the foundational benefits of our medium. As Gary Vaynerchuk has said, “We are now living in a world where “and” will always beat “or” and those who embrace that mindset will see a lot more success than those who do not.” Many of the newest trends in media and technology should be seen as additive to what’s already being successfully done in our space.”  – Esther Raphael, CMO at Intersection

“National advertisers are bringing media planning and buying in house. They want to lean in on tech platforms to make the process real-time, seamless, offer more options and faster.” – Sam Keywanfar, CEO and Founder of MilkMoney

Media vs. Creative

“Media continues to dominate and own the Croisette and Yachts, without really connecting to the theme of ‘creativity.’ In the future perhaps they’ll focus more of their activation and content on how the creative community is effectively using media presence to connect audiences to messages.” – Jack Myers, Founder & Media Ecologist at MediaVillage

All Eyes on AI

AI is the new buzz word, the way metaverse, crypto and NFT’s were the past few years. The truth is it will have a significant impact on the ecosystem and we are already working on plugins.” – Sam Keywanfar, CEO and Founder of MilkMoney

“No surprise to hear from various media outlets and brands that a consumer’s attention is harder than ever to grab and even harder to keep. Fortunately for the OOH industry, we have a unique ability to engage with consumers at multiple touchpoints throughout their day and journey, and we know we not only engage them but drive action. When you pair that with some of these game changing advertising trends, OOH is well-positioned to not only grab attention, but to keep it. For example, Intersection launched a new Artificial Intelligence offering meant to increase effectiveness and relevance of digital OOH ads using the latest in AI technology. With the help of AI, brands can source relevant local content with the click of a button. AI Personalization integrations connect consumers with branded experiences, in real-time.” – Esther Raphael, CMO at Intersection

“AI can enhance OOH advertising in several ways. By analyzing consumer behavior, demographics, and preferences, advertisers can optimize the placement, timing, and content of their OOH ads, maximizing their relevance and impact. Second, AI can facilitate dynamic content generation for OOH advertisements. This allows for more engaging and contextually relevant experiences, capturing an audience’s attention and interest. Furthermore, AI can assist in measurement in a variety of ways now being tested by exciting startups.”   – Mark Boidman, Partner and Head of Media at Solomon Partners

“Nearly 2,000 Cannes Lions award entries cited AI in their synopses. I discussed with several CMOs how they apply AI to product and campaign development. Yet, at the same time, our Harris Poll data reports profound worries among people over AI’s trustworthiness and its threat in replacing their jobs. AI and ethics need to be at the forefront of marketers’ minds, given our role as communicators to the public and reinforcing trust in our messaging. I also wonder what a brand is in the age of AI. Concepts like brand stewards, and brand guidelines all seem so quaint today.” – John Gerzema, CEO at The Harris Poll

Creating Impact

The ONLY medium that was clearly represented and impactful at the Cannes Festival was OOH. But signage is not enough. Next year, maybe all the OOH displays in Cannes can include purposeful messages?” – Jack Myers, Founder & Media Ecologist at MediaVillage

“In a world where fragmentation of attention and consumer platforms is at an all-time high, marketers need to focus more on the effectiveness of their creative content.  For brands, what you say, how your ad looks and how frequently you refresh the visuals all play a critical role in determining how effective your brand’s message will be.  They need to be sharp to cut through the modern-day clutter.” – Jonathan Gudai, CEO at Adomni

“There was palpable energy around the fact that the world is changing, and the way brands engage with people must evolve. One thing made clear through the content and creative work is that our industry as a whole is just as much the art as it is the science. While many of the conversations circled AI and testing new technologies, it was clear that all technology is a toolset, not a replacement. There is still a need for the human touch and creativity in order to produce great work and successful campaigns. “The best ideas were made possible because of technology. But they weren’t technology ideas.” – David Droga. OOH serves as the most creative of all mediums, there is great opportunity for us to continue to position ourselves as such and leverage smart work.” – OUTFRONT

Creator Economy + Diversity

“We are laser focused on the growth potential of the creator economy for OOH. People trust people, not platforms. Consumers respond to authenticity and short-form content is here to stay.  Take TikTok for example.  It is enormously successful because it delivers both an entertainment factor and a human/personal touch.  We see a massive opportunity for brands to extend that very same social/creator on-platform strategy to OOH screens in the real world.  When you start seeing more diverse and normal-looking Creators appear in OOH placements, you will also see more consumer engagement and more ad dollars.” – Jonathan Gudai, CEO at Adomni

“The use of creator partnerships is expected to double over the next year in all sectors, according to the Deloitte Creator Economy in 3D Study. There is a shift from individuality towards more anonymous and collective influence in the winning work. We have already cemented the strong synergy between OOH and social media, coining the term social OOH (#sOOH). This will continue to be a huge growth driver for our industry, with the impact being twofold. First, continue to partner with content creators (previously referred to as influencers) to feed the #sOOH feedback loop. Expectation for more cohesive media strategies and better/ more relatable creative content on our medium. Second, lean into our community presence. We are a national business made up of hundreds of local communities. This will allow brands to share hyper localized copy, built on community insights, in the actual communities. Our medium also offers a huge stage to impact the change needed in driving more inclusive and representative campaigns.” – OUTFRONT

“Influencer agencies and creators had an outsized presence at Cannes, and the opportunity to partner with them to bring their content to life on new screens, expand distribution, and create consumer context is exciting! There is a lot of white space with OOH and, in particular, DOOH to adapt short-form snackable content to their networks. With constant algorithm changes and other challenges on traditional social channels, DOOH provides creators with a new canvas to do what they do best – be creative and connect with their audience, while also expanding exposure. And this extension to more and different types of real-world, high attention and contextual networks creates powerful omni-platform amplification for both their creators and brands – it’s a win/win! Creators can connect brands to their fans perhaps in no better way to cut through the clutter than in today’s increasingly scaled DOOH networks.” – Sean McCaffrey, President and CEO at GSTV

“As far as the creator economy, this is nothing new but we as an industry haven’t done a good enough job integrating into that world. We need to offer them real-time access to inventory so they can book on the fly and get their campaigns up the same day. They need a way to be reliant and topical. Our current systems take wayyyyy too long and are way too complicated for them to engage us in the moment. Hence why MilkMoney is so important.” – Sam Keywanfar, CEO and Founder of MilkMoney


“The sustainability conversation was ubiquitous in Cannes, with brands placing it at the top of their agendas. We expect more brands and agencies to discriminate media partners for their sustainability actions. Sustainability adherence is becoming table stakes for our medium and our industry is taking lots of steps to ensure we lead. In addition, there is opportunity for additional business; the OOH medium serves as a great platform for brands to “brag” about their sustainability efforts and commitments to the community. It also serves as a national stage for educating the masses on sustainable choices.” – OUTFRONT