AOL’s Digital Prophet Says Millennials ‘Are Freaky for Video’

They want content, not ads

After eight years at AOL, digital prophet David Shing still knows how to preach the gospel of the future. And so there he was Saturday at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, talking about code, culture, brands and how to appeal to millennials through ads.

He said Gen Y consumers are "freaky for video." They spend all their time in feeds, meaning news feeds, message feeds and photo feeds. And it's not that they don't like advertising—they don't like bad advertising.

"It's all about content. Nobody wants ads," he said. "And where it becomes fascinating to me is that 70 percent of people would rather read about a brand than be advertised to."

Shing is better known as Shingy, a 45-year-old whose actual title for the Internet company is digital prophet.

He also discussed how online advertising is getting more sophisticated with multichannel behavioral retargeting. Platforms like AOL are building the ad infrastructure to hit up consumers online as they switch from searching the Web to posting on social media, and as they go from their phones to their desktops. Such channel-based divides once made it difficult for digital advertisers to follow consumers' purchasing habits after viewing ads, but that's changing.

The new technology makes it possible to say, "Hey man, here's those shoes you're checking out, here's turn-by-turn directions to the store and here's a discount," Shingy said.

He delivered his views in a fast-paced motivational speech during the Cannes Lions Innovation portion of the festival. Shingy's talk came over the weekend as the event wound down.

Here's a handful of videos from his performance: