Tête-à-Tête With Twitter’s Benjamin Ampen @Cannes Lions

As creativity and technology sought to work together, platforms such as the Cannes International Festival of Creativity began attracting attention of technology-led media platforms such as Twitter. Twitter officials attend the Festival with the objective to network, meet marketers and know more about trends that are shaping the marketing industry.

Among the delegates representing the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region at Cannes this year was Twitter’s Head of Revenue MENA Benjamin Ampen. In a conversation with the Arabian Marketer at Cannes, Mr Ampen speaks more about the Lions experience. Excerpts:

1. How has the Twitter experience been in Cannes?
It has been really intense, full of meetings and great conversations so far! This year is our sixth year at Cannes and it was great to see that our presence is growing which resulted in more insightful sessions with advertisers and agency partners. We had two great spaces (The Twitter Terrace and the Twitter Beach) where our partners could meet with the team and our top execs who were present such as Jack (CEO), Adam Bain (COO), Kayvon (Periscope Founder). It was the perfect way to showcase what we do best: Return on investment & LIVE, with a strong focus on video.

For example, during the week we organized, several Periscope Q&A sessions from our beach where we had built a Live Studio. Also, it was great to celebrate our partners’s success as 75 percent of Grand Prix winning campaigns featured Twitter this year. Last but not least, it was the first year we had local representation from MENA in Cannes since we opened the office in Dubai last August. As a result we could have great conversations and discuss exciting upcoming projects with clients and advertisers from our region.

2. Who are some of the people you met here, and what are some these conversations you refer to?
In Cannes, the attendance is usually a combination of advertisers, media agency folks and creative agencies. And that’s who we actually met. For example, we had sessions with some of our key regional CPG players but also leading Saudi telco brands. Most of the time our agency partners were involved and we also met them on their own as our relationship with agencies in the region is extremely important to us. From top management, to heads of strategy to heads of planning, we had the opportunity to discuss the progress we made in the past year in our collaboration since we opened the office and also where Twitter is going.

Our main focus during these discussions was on Live and video which is particularly relevant given that Saudi Arabia is not only one of the most active countries for our platform worldwide but also one of the top countries when it comes to video consumption on Twitter. We celebrated the fact that all of our reservation-based inventory for the Ramadan period had been booked in Saudi, with a couple of very creative executions involving our new video product called First View! We also talked about how Twitter can play a key role in helping them and the region win more awards in the years to come.

3. What should MENA takeaway from Cannes Lions?
More awards! Lots of creative discussions we had are region or country agnostic i.e. a great idea to solve a business challenge for an advertiser can be easily replicated in MENA without having to adapt too much the mechanic of a campaign. This is the key learning from the region: not being afraid to steal with pride. We have excellent creative and media professionals in the region. In such a situation, they can add lots of value by just replicating a good idea and adding some colors to it thanks to their local expertise.

4. MENA is still very new to Cannes Lions – whether in context to on stage conversations or even the metals won. How do you see this change next year?
It is already changing. Cannes Lions is just the tip of the iceberg. In order to be more present in June at Cannes, you have to work hard all year long and make sure great work is constantly surfaced. Twitter is trying to play its part here. For instance, for the first time ever this year, there was the Twitter Live Young Lynx Competition at the Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity where we trained young talent to develop ideas on Twitter and rewarding the best ideas on the platform.

We’re also making sure locally we’re investing more in our collaboration with creative agencies and how we can help media agencies and advertisers seeing the whole creative potential of Twitter. By being the live connection to culture, we strongly believe that Twitter is the best place for creativity to shine, and at the same time, to bring results to marketers.

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