Adweek and Bloomberg Media event focuses on trust in a disruptive world

As artificial intelligence (AI) ushers in the latest, most powerful wave of digital disruption against a backdrop of ubiquitous social sharing, trust between people and institutions has become a moving target. How can brands navigate that intersection of technology and humanity successfully?

That question was at the heart of the second installment of an event series designed by Adweek and Bloomberg Media to examine the future of marketing in an interruptive world.


Bloomberg Media Global Chief Revenue Officer Keith A. Grossman, left, and Adweek Editorial Director James Cooper, right, kick off the “Focus On: Technology and Humanity” breakfast, held July 11 in New York. Photo: Jen Robinson/Bloomberg

Adweek Editorial Director James Cooper and Bloomberg Media Global CRO Keith A. Grossman welcomed brand and agency guests to a morning that included a briefing from Bloomberg Intelligence, a one-on-one conversation with Goldman Sachs Global Co-Head of Brand and Content Strategy Amanda Rubin, and a panel discussion with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chief Brand Officer Marissa Freeman; CA Technologies SVP, Corporate Marketing Anna Griffin; TD Ameritrade CMO Denise Karkos; and Trustpilot Founder & CEO Peter H. Mühlmann.

“We’re at a really interesting inflection point in the business,” observed Adweek’s Cooper. “Digital technology is transforming brands and business in a way we couldn’t have imagined even two years ago.”  Brand safety and brand trust have come to the forefront as hacking and malware have created increasing anxiety.


Bloomberg Intelligence technology analyst Mandeep Singh, left, and Bloomberg Intelligence senior analyst for software and IT services Anurag Rana, right, give a a briefing on AI. Photo: Jen Robinson/Bloomberg

To provide objective insight into these crucial yet difficult topics, Bloomberg Media’s Grossman introduced Anurag Rana and Mandeep Singh of Bloomberg Intelligence, who gave a briefing on the rapid growth of AI.

Although public cloud spending is forecast to reach more than $200B by 2020, said Rana, a senior analyst focused on software and IT services, “cloud represents a very small portion of the $2T total tech spend at this point.” The bulk of spending by companies still goes to legacy tech, he said – but it’s the computing power of cloud systems that enables AI. And according to Bloomberg Intelligence, the AI market is growing at 54%, more than twice the growth rate of cloud (22%) or big data (23%).

The use cases for AI are endless, added Singh, a technology industry analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, “and they intersect with humanity at every point.”  Technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing will impact everything from supply chains to programmatic advertising, and solve challenges from city parking to cyber attacks to developing new cancer treatments.

“The world as we know it has been disrupted at a fast rate,” Rana said. “But it’s only going to get faster from here.”


Goldman Sachs Global Co-Head of Brand and Content Strategy Amanda Rubin sits down with Adweek Editorial Director James Cooper. Photo: Jen Robinson/Bloomberg

As disruption happens, how can brands build trust across the spectrum of customers and public opinion? Content marketing can prove effective, said Amanda Rubin, Goldman Sachs’ global co-head of brand and content strategy.

“Brands have to demonstrate transparency. They have to figure out ways to add value to the general public and introduce themselves in ways that are relevant,” Rubin said. For Goldman Sachs, that meant crafting narratives that not only helped to define who the company was to a general audience, but also provided “relevant, immersive, intellectually valuable experiences digitally.”

In today’s world, that matters because “public sentiment is critically important to commercial viability,” Rubin added. “Brands can’t underestimate or ignore the importance of public opinion.”


Left to right: Peter H. Mühlmann, Founder & CEO, Trustpilot; Denise Karkos, CMO, TD Ameritrade; Anna Griffin, SVP, Corporate Marketing, CA Technologies; Marissa Freeman, Chief Brand Officer, Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Photo: Jen Robinson/Bloomberg

So what’s the most important goal for marketers to keep their sights on when it comes to trust? Be human, said the leaders who participated in the panel discussion on trust marketing strategies that concluded the event.

When brands do this well, said Anna Griffin, SVP of corporate marketing for CA Technologies, “you don’t even distinguish ‘I’m a brand having a conversation with a consumer.’ It’s ‘I’m having a conversation of value with someone who’s seeking value.’”

Those conversations can take place anywhere – which means advertising can evolve to become a place or forum for dialogue. “It’s everywhere and takes many shapes,” Griffin said. “It could become a charitable act of giving, or a consumer experience that has less to do with a product than it does with what a product enabled.”

Denise Karkos, CMO of TD Ameritrade, built on that idea, noting the importance of marketing across all facets of an organization. “It’s a team sport today,” she said. “You can’t just think that your advertising is going to create trust. You have to have your sales, your service, your product marketers, aligned – everyone has to be lined up against what your truth is and your brand purpose.”

One reason for that is the fact that communication between people and companies now takes place in public forums, added Peter Mülhmann, Trustpilot’s founder and CEO. These conversations are increasingly initiated by customers, creating a public dialogue that’s now as widely read as any other source.

“The simplest thing a company can do is to start the conversation,” Mühlmann said. “Ask, ‘how did we do? What did you think about us?’ And make sure it’s public – because it’s going to be anyway.”

Companies can create the right structure and process to do that by empowering employees. “We’ve operationalized the sharing of social media posts among our employees globally,” said Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chief Brand Officer Marissa Freeman. “It’s a user interface that has hundreds of social posts – and many of them, the best performing ones, are the ones of our CEO. Every employee shares what she has to say – and it becomes massive when you’ve got 70,000 people sharing your social posts.”

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– Jen Robinson | July 11, 2017