Each year, StopPress asks a group of talented professionals in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. This year, we speak to individuals who made their mark on 2023 and brought us truly impactful work.
Zane Furtado is General Manager Technology and Innovation at digital media agency Acquire, and was the only New Zealander to be included in Campaign Asia’s prestigious 40 under 40 list for 2023. We asked him to reflect on 2023 and give his thoughts on what lies ahead this year.
If 2023 were a brand, what would its slogan be?
Never stop starting.
How would you sum up your professional year in three words?
Adaptive, innovative, collaborative.
What shifts do you foresee in NZ adland for 2024 based on 2023’s trends from a data perspective?
With the cookie definitely set to expire next year, brands will need to rely on their first party data and identity strategies to create a more personalised experience for their customers. Data clean rooms seem to be an interesting solution that could also help marketeers with their media mix modelling and channel selection across our top NZ publishers and media channels.
With the loss of the cookie next year, brands can find additional insights from their log level data (LLD) of their programmatic media buys.
There is also a new privacy amendment bill in Parliament that proposes changes to our Privacy Act 2020. If passed, organisations who collect personal information from other agencies will need to have new compliance steps, which may include the need to update existing privacy policies to ensure they are clear about whether information is collected from third party sources.
What was a key change that Acquire made this year in response to 2023’s challenges.
Acquire adapted quickly to market changes by adopting more agile and flexible campaign strategies by leveraging real-time data (sentiment, performance, weather, competitor, traffic, publicly available data etc) and business insights to drive cost efficiencies for our clients.
We also helped our agency partners and brands on their digital transformation journey, arming them with sustainable advertising strategies, building up their tech stack and targeting tools to reach their customers in a privacy compliant manner, thereby enabling them to level up and win more business and deliver better outcomes.
What technology made the most impact on your day-to-day work this year?
Having to deal with Auckland’s traffic and a longer commute to work, we looked at ways we could leverage voice and text AI to help our team build campaigns while they are on the road – all just by talking to their device. 2023 was all about efficiency, so we built a tool that listened to us by using trigger words that helped us create a campaign structure. By the end of the commute, we had a basic campaign shell ready on our DSP.
What were the biggest lessons brands learnt in 2023?
According to me, brands learnt that being innovative and creating a new experience for their customer is good – as long as it fits with your customer mindset. Just ask Bud Light, who had to deal with a fair bit of backlash.
Data does do all the talking and brands have used it effectively to curate personalised experiences for their customers. Listening to social chatter, keeping a pulse on competitor strategies and following sentiment analysis on a brand have also played a pivotal role in addressing issues before they escalate.
What mistakes are brands at risk of making in 2024?
From a media buying perspective, brands cannot ignore media sustainability and privacy concerns. Having carbon measurement solutions in place, as well as a privacy first approach for collecting data is crucial. Chasing vanity metrics is another area brands should rethink and should consider focusing on business outcomes as KPIs.
Who inspired you in 2023 and why?
2023 is when I ran my first half marathon in Hawkes Bay, which was the start of something special – having now run seven since. My biggest inspiration has been my whanau who have not only motivated me, but have also supported me throughout my running and professional journey.
You were named on the Campaign Asia 40 Under 40 list this year – what does this achievement mean to you?
Being named on this list is not only a personal achievement but also a testament to the collaborative efforts of the teams I’ve worked with this year. It inspires me to continue pushing boundaries, fostering innovation and making a positive impact in the advertising and media landscape. The acknowledgment also fuels my passion for driving change, encouraging creativity and staying at the forefront of industry trends. I’m also super stoked to be the only Kiwi on the list.
What are you most looking forward to working on in 2024?
Sustainability in advertising and identity are two topics that I am passionate about and I look forward to working on them in the new year. New Zealand is on the right path – we have organisations like Ad Net Zero and IAB that are championing the cause, working with agencies and brands to educate them, provide a framework and drive change.
AI, VR and the metaverse has opened up a whole new realm, which will disrupt everything from law to finance, education, transportation, retail, and much more. I am excited to see what the future holds in that space from an advertising POV. Metrics like CPB (cost per brain) are being tested where a viewable impression in a VR environment could be tracked based on eye tracking technology on the headset.
Quick fire 10:
Most impactful local campaign of 2023: –
The 17,680 Nights of July Women’s Refuge campaign by EightyOne and DDB New Zealand’s ‘Correct the internet’ campaign for the FIFA Women’s World Cup really stood out for me tackling two very different but important women’s social issues.
Most underrated international campaign of the year:
Norwich City FC – ‘Check In On Those Around You’ for #WorldMentalHealthDay
Campaign I wish I worked on:
McDonald’s – ‘#RaiseYourArches’.
A news event that didn’t get the attention it deserved:
The OpenAI powered wearable, the AI Pin by Humane
Most listened to artist of 2023:
A 2023 trend you’re ready to bid farewell to:
Most innovative use of social media in a campaign this year:
Heinz Fraud Ketchup – Is That Heinz?
Most bingeable TV series of 2023:
Biggest flop of 2023:
Best piece of advice you’ve been given:
Strive for balance; success in one area shouldn’t come at the expense of others.