What happened at NexTech 2023? Our top SIX takeaways for innovative marketers

Our top SIX takeaways from Adweek's marketing technology event of the year – NexTech 2023

November 22, 2023
What happened at NexTech 2023? Our top SIX takeaways for innovative marketers

Has marketing and technology ever been more connected? The adage goes that AI won’t replace marketers; a marketer who knows how to use AI will. That was certainly one of the themes most on show at NexTech 2023 in New York this month.

As a sponsor and speaker, the UneeQ team was in attendance, and we soaked up the insights from the two-day martech event.

Here are our top six takeaways:

1. Spotify and the power of voice

The world’s biggest music-streaming platform is no stranger to launching personalized experiences. Just look at the beloved end-of-year wrap-up Spotify does, summarizing your year of listening habits – top songs, genres, artists, etc.

So what did Grace Kao, Global Head of Business Marketing at Spotify, predict about the convergence of technology and user experiences like these?

One near-future state Grace shared involved unleashing the power of voice technology. For instance, in podcast advertising, where the same influencer can speak in many different languages thanks to AI translation.

The voice of an influencer can be presented in a huge range of languages, including those the speaker doesn’t speak irl – adding new levels of personalization to a much broader audience.

2. McCann and unleashing creativity with generative AI

A recurring theme at NexTec was how generative AI is giving marketers tools to do what they couldn’t before. And rightly so. ChatGPT is being used in wonderful, wacky and creative ways every day.

One use case for generative AI that we hadn’t personally thought of was the creation of video storyboards for major brand ad campaigns. Marketers who find sketching out a storyboard one of the biggest roadblocks to creating great video (like yours truly) can finally rejoice! 

Elav Horwitz – EVP, Global Head of Applied Innovation at McCann Worldgroup – showed examples of how the agency has used generative AI imagery to lend a creative eye to the process.

Not only did the imagery generated by the likes of Dall-E and Midjourney help tell the brand story, it naturally adds its own vision to the prompt supplied to it – essentially making it another creative mind in the room. 

Elav’s demonstration showed how quickly a storyboarding session can be done, allowing brands to get great ideas out there faster.

3. Beam Suntory and how to truly personalize

The global whiskey brand knows how to give people a good time. But it’s a candid pandemic story by Venky Iyer – BeamSuntory VP of Digital Products and Experience – that had us all emotional by the end of the night.

Venky explained how the 2020 pandemic disrupted the brand’s supply chain, meaning its customers were becoming increasingly disappointed not to receive their subscription orders. Beam Suntory looked at ways to spread more joy – and through automation, we think they excelled.

The brand ramped up its social listening, and empowered its team to spend $100 per customer on personal gifts simply to make people smile again. From glassware engraved with a whiskey-loving customer’s face, to signed posters and unexpected wedding gifts, the brand handed its staff free reign to be hyper-personal.

And, as we know in the world of marketing, that can never be a bad thing.

4. UneeQ and meeting customer’s emotional states with AI

We’re used to talking about digital humans. And we were delighted to see a great response to our workshop on how to personalize the shopping experience with AI.

When there is an emotive part of a customer journey, brands have to meet people in that emotional state. But we all know websites, chatbots and other Web 2.0 interfaces simply cannot provide any real emotional impact in return.

Digital humans can. In fact they ARE doing so, as our CEO Danny showed in our workshop. You can check out the full recording above. 

5. Uber Advertising and “the new living room”

The average person spends eight hours a week in their cars, Mark Grether, VP General Manager at Spotify Advertising, explained when asked about tomorrow’s technology opportunities. 

A driverless future means people will spend a lot of time in their vehicles not doing a whole lot, where they’ll be a captive audience for savvy marketers.

Whether it’s on their mobile devices or through in-car entertainment screens, vehicles will essentially be the “new living room”, to use Mark’s own analogy.

It’s intriguing to think what new opportunities could await in these new spaces, including whether the growth in AR/VR headsets and applications will converge to completely change the way we spend time on the road.

6. Fat Joe on the importance of authenticity

NexTech’s final day culminated with Grammy-nominated artist and entrepreneur Fat Joe taking to the stage to talk about his work with ClashTV. 

The hip-hop star and the streaming brand have collaborated to bring street basketball to the masses – and unearth future sports stars in the process. It's clear that Joe added not just a celebrity name, but a cultural compass on what matters to people in areas like The Bronx where he grew up – what drives young ballers, and what that means to the communities around them.

The inspiring talk on blending culture and business to create engaged audiences was great fuel for any marketer. When authentic causes and great platforms come together, it’s rarely a miss. 

And as Joe told the audience, all he does is win!