Cannes Lions 2022 Review

I made it to the ‘gutter bar’. Apparently a rite of passage for any Cannes first-timers like myself. Amongst the hundreds of others who had skipped from yacht, to beach hut, to hotel party to get there, I noticed one person excitedly brandishing their Cannes Lion gold award - a reminder of why all this began…

Admittedly, my lens was very Tambo-focused and therefore was slightly biased towards the topics most relevant to our world of e-commerce. I was delighted to discover that ‘our world’ was more than well-represented in Cannes this year, with ‘Commerce’ being the word added to all parts of the wider industry represented there - ‘Commerce Media’, ‘Commerce Content’, ‘Sustainable Commerce’. There’s a lot to be excited about, so below are just a few highlights that stood out for me.

1. Amazon @ Cannes

Amazon was not just a support player but a main event at Cannes. The Amazon Port was a hive of activity, whilst representatives from all parts of the Amazon org were on hand and hugely in-demand. I jumped between meetings with representatives from AWS, Technology Partnership Development and Amazon Ads.

As an Amazon partner, I was fortunate enough to attend a more private event and was struck by the range of Amazon partners I met there - from design-at-scale businesses like Superside (nice team!) to existing Tambo partners like Skai.

All in all, everyone and anyone involved with Amazon seemed to be there and it was exciting to feel the scale of ambition, momentum and innovation coming through from the retail media, marketplace and e-commerce industry.

2. Amazon Marketing Stream

One of the main Amazon announcements -which we have been excited about at Tambo for a while now- was Amazon Marketing Stream (not to be confused with Prime Streaming TV).

Accessed via the Amazon Ads API and launched in response to many asking for more frequent data availability, Marketing Stream enables near real-time data on Amazon Ads campaign metrics to be accessed. The benefit for advertisers is clear, enabling significant improvements in campaign efficiency whilst improving operational efficiency for businesses like ours.

This update isn’t ground-breaking- it brings Amazon Ads further in line with the likes of Google and Meta from a capability perspective - nonetheless, it’s important and much needed.

3. Connected Commerce

In an industry wide response to data challenges, fragmented platform solutions and the acceleration of e-commerce over the past few years, it appears that almost any business across Media, Creative & Technology has accepted that to stay relevant, the model needs to change.

Based on Cannes sample size, it seems the ‘solution’ has been to drop the ‘E’ in E-Commerce and declare everything open for business. The overall idea being an aggregation and monetisation of first party data, ad inventory and platforms, to deliver an altogether superior response to consumers’ intent across all industries - both non-retail and retail - connected across the on and offline consumer journey.

I had a series of good meetings with one of those leading this charge, Criteo, who indeed have just launched their own white-paper on ‘Commerce Media’ for those that would like to read more on this.

I agree with the overall direction of travel and sentiment, though I think it’s important to recognise that this journey is a way off being complete. It is important to also note that there are some platforms, providers and partners that are definitely further ahead than others on being able to actually deliver even the first part of this for brands.

Certainly, those that can crack marketplaces, retail media and e-commerce more broadly, will be well placed to leverage the wider ‘commerce’ ecosystem as capability catches up with intent.

4. Sustainability

I’m aware that there’s a heavy dose of hypocrisy in including a point around sustainability, given that I am one of thousands who have just flown in and out of Cannes on a business trip. That being said, I felt encouraged by the weight of focus sustainability governed this year. From my short time there, I came across topics such as buying carbon neutral media inventory, sustainability for brands across multiple verticals, carbon in-setting (vs offsetting as a default) and Amazon’s increasing green requirements for sellers (ERP in the EU, for example).

The reality is that legislation (particularly in the EU) and commercial growth opportunities are likely to be the prominent drivers of this increase in urgency for many. Regardless, the good news is it feels like action and a clear message I’ll be taking back for our brands is that leading the charge on sustainability is now a must to stay competitive in the medium term.

5. It’s worth being there

I’ve always been slightly skeptical about Cannes. However, having finally made my way there, I am already thinking about how I can make more of it next year. Being there provides a live reading on the future of our industry; whether that’s the sum of all its parts or your specific part in particular.

The number of meetings I had in two days, I’d likely find impossible to replicate in one month, given the diversity of the businesses and locations of the people I spoke with. It’s made me feel more energised than ever about what we are doing at Tambo and more motivated to get out of my house or office to meet people. I love the fact that we are a business built around remote working (pre-Covid) but sometimes there really is no replacement for meeting in person.

It’s also just brilliant fun.

Jake Hewlett, Managing Partner

Cannes Lions