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iCrossing’s New Chief Strategy Officer Says Advertising Should ‘Feel Native’

Anne Bologna on infusing creativity into ad tech

In Anne Bologna’s 25 years in advertising, she says, two major shifts have occurred. Photo: Chris Loupos


Specs
Current gig Chief strategy officer, iCrossing
Previous gig Brand strategy vp, TripAdvisor
Twitter @bologniac
Age 58

Adweek: You've been in the industry now for more than 25 years. What is technology in advertising like now compared to when you began?
Anne Bologna: I think there are two significant shifts in the industry. One is that we have not seen this level of disruption since the invention of the television. The second is we are no longer a business-to-consumer economy. We are a c-to-b economy, which means the consumer is empowered to be in control. They have the tools and technology to actually control their entire lives. Back then in the '50s, systems had to be created. It was the commercial, the pod, the advertisement. It started with soap opera, right? So now fast-forward to 2016 and we're in the process of creating new systems.

Based on that metaphor of TV, what are the programs needed now if the modern box is the Internet?
Brands need to plan around consumers, not around their products. You can't just push your product through normal distribution channels. You can't decide that just because you've got this endcap at Walmart that people are going to come. Because there's Amazon. And there are apps. Brands have to plan around people. They have to be where people are and provide them with things they want to engage in, but that also move them obviously through the purchase funnel.

Is native advertising the right answer for bridging experience and effectiveness?
I've never been one of those people where there's only one answer. It's not about content, it's not about viral, it's not about social. It's about a solution. I do think conceptually, when you talk about experiences, all advertising needs to feel native as opposed to being native. The creativity and innovation part, the engaging part, the experiencing part has to feel native, which is really about relevancy and engagement, and sometimes entertainment and sometimes utility.

The first part of iCrossing's life focused heavily on search. How has that shifted?
If you consider that SEO and Google are basically the world's largest database of human intention, it's an indication of what people are interested in, what they want, what they need. And so search naturally lends itself to one of the phrases we use, which is "intention marketing." Intention marketing as in being where people are and providing them with things that they want is the future of successful marketing.

What's something you learned about traveling while working at TripAdvisor?
It kind of stems from the core of that product, that travel is such a passion point for people. They love to talk about travel. There was also a stat that I thought was interesting which might now be out of date because it was two years ago, but the No. 1 item shared anywhere on social media anywhere is a travel photo. People love to share their stories.

This story first appeared in the Feb. 8 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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