Event Targeting Across the Pond: Analyzing Cannes Lions Foot Traffic and Trends


Cannes Lions 2018 – the International Festival of Creativity for the advertising industry – took over Cote D’Azur in the South of France last week. This week long festival is known for many things, including the sheer amount of foot traffic it generates throughout the city. Although foot traffic was reportedly down as compared to other years, this festival was still a prime VIP event with exclusive parties, luncheons on multi-million dollar yachts, and the place for the brilliant minds of advertising, media mavens and agency tycoons to be seen.

This year offered the perfect opportunity to unleash our Event Targeting solution to capture a dynamic audience of likeminded mobile users and analyze trends across the weeklong festival (June 18 – 22).

To begin, we drew geo-fences around Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport and the Gare Maritine, the official registration and badge pick up location, to monitor the most popular travel days and general flow of foot traffic based on mobile users seen in the fences. We then selected a handful of popular venues throughout the area that played host to official Cannes Lions events and drew geo-fences around those, with the intent of determining the most active events at each location.

Here is what we found.


Airport Traffic Was Steady Leading Up To The Event – With One Exception.

Airports are an ideal location for hotels, car rental companies, and other local businesses to target travelers. And with such a massive influx of people traveling to the French Riviera during Cannes Lions, Nice Cote d’Azur International Airport is no exception. According to our data, the biggest spike in airport foot traffic of folks that were also seen at the conference wasn’t the day before the festival or the day after the festival ended, as one might expect; it was Thursday, June 14, four days before the conference started – with Monday, June 18 coming in as a close second.

With the spike occurring during the week prior to the conference start, leads us to believe that those making the international journey over to Cannes made a trip out of it and enjoyed some time along the beautiful coastlines of the South of France before the festival began. In all, there was a 36% increase in mobile users on Thursday, June 14 compared to the average day leading up to the event.


Gara Maritine Traffic Peaked Early, Then Gradually Tapered Off.

All those attending Cannes Lions 2018 official events were required to check-in at Gara Maritine. And starting on Sunday, June 17, the first day of check-in and registration, traffic at Gara Maritine started to rise dramatically, increasing over 70% as compared to the previous day. Activity peaked on Monday, June 18 with the biggest rise in mobile users being seen during 9 AM – 10 AM and 5 PM – 6 PM. Folks either came early to pick up their passes, or grabbed their badge right in time for the official opening cocktail party at Carlton Beach.

Traffic remained steady at Gara Maritine throughout the week with a minor decline towards the end, which is no surprise considering that it was reported that the volume of walk-ups throughout the festival week was higher this year than ever before (AdWeek.)

Official Festival Events Saw Peak Foot Traffic Early on in the Week.

With hundreds of inspiring Cannes Lions speakers to choose from, there were many must-see sessions within the official program that took place at two primary locations – Palais I and Palais II – and a few great beach locations scattered throughout the city.

Throughout the course of the festival, we saw an overall increase in foot traffic at the majority of official conference locations on Monday, June 18 contributing to a 42% increase as compared to the average foot traffic seen each day. There were steady foot traffic patterns on Tuesday, June 19 and Wednesday, June 20 with gradual decreases later into the week. Some interesting findings worth noting were as follows:

  • On Monday, June 18 Palais I and Palais II saw over an 80% increase in foot traffic as compared to the Monday before the conference.
  • Official beach locations that hosted Cannes Lions events also saw a significant up tick in foot traffic on Monday, June 18 as compared to the Monday before the conference, with Carlton Beach seeing the largest peak at 93% as it hosted the official welcome party for the festival.
  • Another popular beach event that saw a peak in foot traffic was the “Daily Happy Hour: Brought to you by CNN” at the Palais Beach on Monday, June 18 seeing over a 72% increase in foot traffic as compared to the Monday before the conference. This event happened to fall right before the official welcome party at Carlton Beach which leads us to believe that Monday night was a popular night for evening beach parties amongst the Cannes Lions crowd.

All of which is synonymous to the countless targeting opportunities presented at Cannes Lions, whether it’s a B2B advertiser targeting an interactive panel discussion at the festival, or another popular tourist attraction in the city trying to drive foot traffic of conference-goers to their location. By strategically geo-fencing specific venues, advertisers have the ability to build target audiences with enthusiasm for a particular topic, and deliver digital ads to these individuals following the event.

It’s the ideal opportunity for marketers to identify events that align with their goals and employ a localized programmatic platform to build a custom, portable audience – reaching people who have already expressed interest in their product, and doing so at a granular level. Nothing is more precise or effective than that.

To learn more about Simpli.fi’s industry-leading Event Targeting solution, reach out to us at hi@simpli.fi.