Mastering Marketing – With Humanity: Three Must-Hear Trends from the 2022 ANA Conference

By Reggie Shah, Senior Director, Research & Insights, Audacy

“To meet and exceed customer needs, drive growth, and inspire change.” 

Isn’t that what we all want to do? Showcasing successes in these areas was what made the 2022 ANA Masters of Marketing conference a winner. Diving into the creative inspiration and best practices behind the world’s leading marketing campaigns was an amazing experience. 

Here are three of my favorite trends from ANA – things you might want to keep in mind when mastering your next successful marketing campaign. 

Listen to your consumers

What made this conference so inspiring for me was its theme of “Humanity for Growth” – through sustainability; through diversity, equity, and inclusion; and through the power of humanity and connection. Successful brands don’t just have a mission poster on the wall – they listen to their customers, they have a purpose, and they communicate that reason for existence so well that their fans can easily tell and buy into their brand story. 

And from my perspective, focusing on that human touch is what’s changing – and what needs to change – in brand marketing. Consumers aren’t just buying what you’re selling – they’re buying into your brand. Sure, they still shop for products and price, but they also look for purpose and thought leadership. It’s becoming known as Brands for Humans, or B4H, and it highlights the power of humanity and connection. 

That’s why, as savvy marketers, we need to speak to consumers’ hearts, and speak not simply with logic, but also with emotion that connects us all. We need to complement traditional insights with genuine insights that answer why people feel or act a certain way. We need to go beyond the emerging technologies – no matter how cool they are! – and connect with the hearts and souls of our consumers.

Focus on local

People focus on what matters most to their communities – and they want your focus to be there too. Supporting sound communities is something that we’re passionate about at Audacy. We work to bring communities together for good with programs such as We Can Survive, our annual event to raise awareness and funds for mental health support in partnership with ‘I’m Listening’ and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). We’ve donated more than $1.5 million to AFSP so far, and we continue to talk about mental health on our platforms, because we know talk has the power to save lives.

Deliver better ad experiences

I see delivering better ad experiences as our collective homework assignment from ANA. Mastercard’s Raja Rajamannar hit on this at the conference, too. As an industry, we need to treat consumers well – to treat them better than we have. Our ads should be seamless, frictionless, and frankly, delightful. They should make ad-blockers and the skip button the furthest thing from consumers’ minds. 

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