By Bret Herzog

For the first time since COVID-19 changed the fundamental way we work and collaborate, I was able to meet with my peers and colleagues at the annual AMIN Integrated Conference. The chance to collaborate and connect in face-to-face conversations provided focus and perspective on what’s reality, versus the hype and BS we tend to see in social and the trades. 

Remote Work 

There’s a large divide on how successful remote work is and the feelings on fully distributed workforces. Most concerns were the balance of collaboration and the personal needs and working styles of talent and their families. With the “Great Resignation” or whatever term is hot now, one thing held true – the war for talent is real. This has led organizations to create fewer rules and more facilitation. There were no magic bullets or best practices that worked for everyone, but we agreed that flexibility is here to stay. There’s no going back to the pre-pandemic everyday office. 

Trying to Find Purpose 

Agencies and brands are trying to find their cause – seeking to voice their differentiation. But, we’ve seen advertising go through phases of repositioning to capture social movements. Social good is now the topic du jour, with brands continuing to grow their ESG footprints. However, there’s increased scrutiny of brands and agency partners that have not fulfilled their promises. Expect this space to continue to get crowded, but the proof will be in the outcomes. 

Technobabble 

Metaverse – the word on everyone’s lips. Except very few people are convinced of its current applicability. This is not to discount AR and VR, but marketers hear “metaverse” and want to know what it means for their brand. In most cases, it means nothing or very little. The question on many minds was the ethics and use of the platform. With Mark Zuckerberg and Meta leading the charge, concerns seem valid given their track record of mitigating the negative societal consequences of their technologies. But, I’ve been wrong before… 

Touchless Revolution 

I know I owe a few people some money from old bets on the adoption of QR codes. With the pandemic making physical contact taboo, paired with endemic smart phone capabilities, QR codes have been given new life. This isn’t to say that every ad should have a QR code (please be responsible and avoid putting them on billboards for the safety of other drivers). But contactless technologies like QR codes and NFC (the technology that powers your key cards and smart wallets) are finally finding adoption. 

After a few years in the Zoom wilderness, my core takeaway from the conference is to meet regularly with your peers from other organizations. You’ll find it to be therapeutic, and it’s always a great gut check to see if you’re full of BS. Make it a habit and do it today.