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In throes of change, industry met at Advertising Week

Marketers and advertising types gathered in New York for the annual industry event known as Advertising Week, aiming to provide insights to an industry grappling with significant changes in technology, culture and consumer habits.

Celebrating the start of #AWNewYork at our opening gala at the iconic @radiocitymusichall!

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Key panels and presentations like “Can Brands Actually Tell a Story in 6 Seconds?” and “Realizing The Full Potential of Audience Targeting” were some of the highlights of the event, with a big focus placed on the recent criticism of the ad targeting practices of Google and Facebook and diversity within the advertising world.

The misuse of ad tools was absent on Carolyn Everson’s presentation, the vice president of global marketing solutions at Facebook, who instead highlighted the company’s recently established mission statement“give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together” — and aimed to illustrate how to do that.

As Facebook sought to polish its reputation, industry leaders were wrestling with the misuse of marketing tools that had been developed for their benefit. Facebook was seen as an unavoidable force, not only because it’s the second-biggest seller of online advertising after Google, but also because it provides companies with unprecedented methods for targeting ads to people based on their tastes and habits.

“Sometimes our industry gets so enamored with new things that we lose sight of unintended consequences,” said Sarah Hofstetter, chief executive of the ad agency 360i. “Data and personalization is one of those things. It can be used for phenomenal targeting of potential consumers but it also can be used to target hate groups and inspire nefarious outcomes.”

Attendees also confronted the enormous pressures facing the agencies at the heart of the business of advertising. The world’s biggest advertising companies, such as WPP and Interpublic Group of are dealing with the slowest revenue growth since the recession and tumbling stock prices. Lackluster growth has brought broader concerns about the health of the agency business into sharp relief.

On top of that, the very idea of convincing someone to buy a product using advertising was also being called into question, as consumers increasingly block disruptive ads and turn to the plethora of new commercial-free entertainment options.“As an advertiser, I must tell you ads are dead,” read a recent tweet from Lou Paskalis, senior vice president of media and investment for Bank of America . “The future is about things people want, not things they have to endure.”

There was room for innovation as well, with Snapchat presentation of its 3D World Lenses. The new item will enable brands to bring their characters and products into the ‘real world’ through the power of animation and the Snapchat camera, thus driving awareness for their brand when their lenses are used on Snaps.

PH: Matt Scheckner, Twitter