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#AWEurope Strategist Matt Turner warns “If you have to ask how to use it, it might already be too late.”

Brands seem to look to new innovation to answer old communications questions. With the ability for innovation to disrupt operations further upstream than just communications, the risk is that brands lose the ability to compete effectively.

Earlier this week I popped down to Piccadilly to drop into a talk at this year’s infamous Adweek Europe. I visited an event hosted by Wired NXT described as: Progressive, cutting-edge thinkers on the age of disruptive innovation and hitting the ever-elusive target audience. I must admit that I was tempted by the thought that I could capture some quick wins to take back to my office and our clients who are always keen for fresh approaches on how to target customers with the vast number of new opportunities at our disposal.

However, what I found was that the discussion sounded very familiar. This is no way a criticism of the hosts, but a reflection of how technology is shifting the landscape that brands move in.

Although we discussed a few new thoughts such as how the Apple Watch is moving us into the notification economy/post-app economy  –the overall tone and subject line seemed confused… and by confused, I mean confused about what new innovations mean for brands and how to apply them. Examples of big data, AR/Oculus rift and even holography were discussed – but with words of caution instead of gusto, and all emphasized the need for clear customer understanding.

What stood out most was the focus on creative executions and that although many are aware they exist, their application for established brands was more difficult to master.

The worry is that for every ‘new economy’ or age of marketing, there isn’t just a new channel for a brand to exploit; but there is another new rise of challenger brands.

The share economy saw the emergence of billion dollar brands like Uber and Airbnb. In the notification economy, we are likely to see brands like ‘Yo’ coming in to own the one touch/notifications space.  Despite the phrase ‘think like a start-up, act like a turnaround’ coming up halfway through the presentation, there is a real question as to whether marketers are truly ready to take on innovation. If we’re simply asking the question of how can we target customers with innovation, instead of how we can build our brands around innovation, then it might already be too late for some…