SWA annual meeting: advertising industry finally came together again on Wednesday

More than 300 advertising clients, agency and media representatives gathered on Wednesday for the SWA Annual Meeting under the motto "Man or Machine?". Speakers presented their ideas and food for thought on the development of AI in marketing and communications. As a surprise guest, moderator Patrik Müller spoke with "Advertiser of the Year" David Schärer about the time after Corona and the future of advertising.

As last in 2019, SWA President Roger Harlacher opened the big annual meeting as host. In his introduction, he briefly looked back at the first fictions of human-machines and addressed the state of today's technologies. Whether humanoid robots or the monitoring of elderly people by systems with artificial intelligence: The fields of application of new technologies are limitless and already show science without fiction.

For Harlacher, the future is therefore more "man and machine" or "man and technology. This makes it all the more important for marketers to take a close look at this technological development. As an association, the SWA wants to put people at the center and accompany its members on this challenging marketing journey into the future.

Regarding the association, Harlacher explained, as previously at the 73rd General Meeting, that most advertising companies and the SWA had come through the pandemic well. In the process, the SWA was able to quickly convert its services and offerings to digital and achieved new attendance records with its webinars, for example.

Another milestone last year was the founding of "Digital Ad Trust Switzerland" together with Leading Swiss Agencies and IAB Switzerland. (Werbewoche.ch reported). With the certification of websites in Switzerland, advertising clients thus receive more security and transparency in the areas of ad fraud, viewability, brand safety, and user experience. Clients and agencies should therefore definitely rely on such certified websites in the future.

There are currently few changes in the composition of the Board of Management. This is because four new members were elected to the Board most recently in October (Werbewoche.ch reported). Due to numerous new members in 2021 as well as in the current year, the association has now grown to over 200 members.

Speaker on AI in marketing and communication

The speaker, scientist and author Professor Peter Gentsch from Berlin brought in the scientific view. For him, AI is a particularly powerful tool for marketing and communication. But unfortunately, many marketers often lack imagination. Many companies today still look too closely at how AI can be used to optimize existing processes. What he finds exciting, however, is the question of how to improve product experience. This would open up new business models with AI! Finally, he touched on professions that more or less have to worry about AI competition. Teachers and dentists will hardly be affected by AI in the future. People in sales and service are more likely to have to worry. New professions will emerge, such as Head of Bot Creative, In-world Marketing Architect, Memory Augmentation Therapist or Machine & People Ethics Manager.

The AI expert and book author Mieke De Katelaere from Brussels assessed artificial intelligence from an engineer's perspective. For the Belgian, AI is not something you believe in more or less, but a tool for which no task can be complex enough. This includes designing 360-degree customer experiences. AI is good, bad and ugly. She has written about this and the responsibilities involved in her book. Guests at the annual meeting were able to take the first German edition home with them in a goodie bag.

The transformation expert Thomas Ruck by Accenture Interactive from Zurich started with Nasa engineers who put on their AR glasses in the morning to send Mars robots on a journey. Is such a future also conceivable for advertisers? He then took the audience on a virtual streetcar ride along Zurich's Weinbergstrasse, which is abundantly flanked with billboards. AI helps to recognize which poster creations are comparatively better noticed and remembered. With numerous other examples, he showed what AI can do today and concluded by asking whether the audience was ready for AI or not.

"Advertiser of the Year" David Schärer on AI and Covid

As a surprise, SWA offered the reigning "Advertiser of the Year", David Schärer a short platform. In the talk between the moderator Patrik miller and Rod's co-founder was about more than just the FOPH's Covid communications. He talked about how BAG campaigns were realized on short notice and where AI is already being used in the agency. As an advertiser, he is naturally opposed to advertising bans on legal products and thinks the industry should be influencing public sentiment and legislation much earlier.

Afterwards, SWA Director Roland Ehrler led over to the standing dinner. After all, many advertising clients, agency and media representatives had only met virtually for many months. All the greater was the pleasure of all the personal encounters and exchanges until late in the evening. The traditional SWA goodie bag with contents from sponsors and members was gladly taken home.

The next SWA Annual Meeting will be held at StageOne on March 15, 2023.

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