Each year over the past decade, the Signal conference has expanded its scope and reach. At the outset, the event’s mission was relatively narrow: Highlight the best and brightest minds in the emerging world of digital media and marketing. Since then, Signal’s remit has grown well beyond digital marketing to include nearly every aspect of business and its impact on society. Along the way, we’ve made Signal360 an essential companion publication to continue Signal’s mission all year long.
Signal 2021 brought you a focus on “Always Learning, Always Leading.” So what’s next? Over the next 12 months, we’ll unpack each of the six “pillars” of that theme to help you bring inspiration and insights to your business and grow as leaders.
Here’s a preview of how we’ll keep delivering on the Signal pillars each month:
Corporate Citizenship — examining the role of business in society — has become a central tenet of Signal over the past several years.
What you learned at Signal: At Signal 2021, we explored sustainability, diversity, and more with the CEOs of Google, GM, Flagship Pioneering, and of course P&G itself. Musician and activist John Legend implored companies to take a stand on key issues of equity, David Taylor and Senator Rob Portman discussed how companies can best work with government. Hugh Evans, founder of the Global Citizen movement, laid out his plans for his organization’s most ambitious program yet.
How Signal360 will build on those insights: We’re diving in right away. Global Citizen Live will launch next month — and of course Signal360 will be there, covering it in our September issue. We see community as a central focus in corporate citizenship; we’ll take you through leading examples with actions you can apply. And we’ll return to the theme next April, with our annual focus on sustainability, and in June, with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. Our strongest takeaway so far: Committing to equity and core societal values is no longer a “nice to have” for corporate leaders. It’s now both necessary — and good business.
Given its roots in digital marketing and media, Signal has always had a strong focus on the Future of Media.
What you learned at Signal 2021: This year’s event featured insights from the leaders of TikTok, BET, Peloton, Spring Hill, Culture Con, and many others. Our core takeaway: The media landscape has never been more in flux than it is today, and new emerging technologies and platforms only promise more of the same. One key highlight is the continued strength of sports as a channel to reach engaged audiences — as we heard from Lisa Baird, commissioner of the US National Women’s Soccer League, as well as two Olympic champions, Brazil’s Bernardho Rocha de Rezende and the US’s Chloe Kim.
How Signal360 will build on those insights: Signal360’s October issue will take you further into the changing world of media and advertising. And we will continue our exploration of the role of sports in media and marketing in its upcoming March issue.
In business, it all comes down to understanding people, and this year’s Consumer Insights pillar gave us plenty to think about.
What you learned at Signal 2021: Nearly every speaker offered “aha moments” — but some of our favorites came from Janey Whiteside, Chief Customer Officer of Walmart, who taught us about “emotional trust” between customers and brands. NYU professor Scott Galloway delivered a provocative lecture on how we’ve changed since the pandemic, and author Malcolm Gladwell delivered fascinating insights on generational behaviors
How Signal360 will build on those insights: Just who are the most influential consumers, and how can brands best work with them? How are the ideas from Signal speakers playing out in the real world? We’ll explore all of this, with a particular focus on Millennials, in our November issue.
Perhaps no focus area of Signal was impacted more over the past year than the Future of Commerce.
What you learned at Signal 2021: We heard from leaders in Asia, Latin America, Europe, and the US — all of whom laid out how the pandemic drove massive disruption — and a permanent shift to digital commerce across the board. Instacart President Nilam Ganenthiran discussed how his grocery service expanded by more than 100,000 employees — and had its biggest year of growth in company history. Dada Group’s Jun Yang took us on a detailed tour of e-commerce in Asia, and Sean Summers, CMO of Mercado Libre, provided a key takeaway: In crisis, there is also opportunity.
How Signal360 will build on those insights: What will be the long-tail outcome of these events? Is this a sea change, or just ripples? Signal360 will continue the conversation with a focus on global business in February, and an examination of how the supply chain has changed in May.
Always a core element of the Signal lineup, our Technology pillar was rife with fascinating insights on applications (and implications) of artificial intelligence, the smart home, and more. And one of the most important trends in technology today isn’t the tech itself, but how society is adapting to its impact — so much of our Government and Policy pillar intersected with technology in one way or another. We heard from Joy Buolamwini, the founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, on how AI systems can exacerbate bias, as well as Fei-Fei Li, a leading researcher in the field. Cnet’s Brian Cooley took us on a tour of the smart home, we learned how 5G will change business from China Unicom’s Jian Fan, and former FTC commissioner Terrell McSweeny offered us a clear-eyed view of how governments might respond to tech’s growing power over our lives. We’ll be focusing on technology in the January edition of Signal360.
As we prepare for the year ahead, we’d love to hear from you — what topics would you like to see covered here in Signal360? Send us a note. Here’s to a great year of always learning, and always leading!