Tag Archives: Interactive

The future of advertising agency integration

The rate of innovation within the digital and interactive realms is currently outpacing the rate at which industries are evolving. With these new technologies come new media, new services, and new revenue models – all of which are impacting how people are interacting with media, the environment and each other. So how are advertising agencies adapting to the rapidly changing environment? This was the topic of discussion for a packed room of digital, traditional, and PR agencies alike as we all humbly tried to suggest solutions.

The discussion was moderated by Pete Lerma of Click Here, an interactive agency within The Richards Group. Before we opened up to discussion, Pete outlined three basic models that current advertising agencies use to deal with the clients’ demands for digital solutions to their business problems:

Generalist Model: Traditional agencies convince clients they can do digital when they can’t. They then use current talent to create watered down digital solutions. The advantages are that the message is consistent and there is one point of contact.

One agency, two distinct groups: This model requires both a traditional as well as an interactive group working under the same umbrella. Business is shared, and the two groups work together seamlessly.

Multiple agencies: This model uses one traditional agency and niche digital agencies are outsourced according to needs. Usually the client or holding company will decide how the partners are chosen. The biggest disadvantage is territory battles that typically arise.

Although these models are great to study, that’s about all they are good for. The needs of clients to meet the demands of innovation don’t require a model; they simply require great work. So, the model doesn’t matter. What matters is the mindset of your employees.

Those who think they are traditional will become obsolete unless they begin to innovate their thinking to meet the changes around them. The future advertising model is the exact same thing as it is today. But instead of holding talent proficient in traditional, the model will hold talent that can do it all.

Inherently though, this futurist projection has its challenges. Some projects in interactive agencies require teams of 20+ programmers alone. Can agencies really sustain a workforce of that many developers that may lay idle for half of the year? Not now they can’t. So they are forced to outsource talent and in so doing begin to run into the expected culture, ownership and creative hurdles. Maybe the solution is that production now has to program as well as everything else? I certainly don’t have the answers.

One thing is for certain though: Unless ‘traditional’ agencies embrace the skill set necessary to compete in the evolving market, then the digital-only agencies will easily begin to implement more traditional elements to their campaigns. When that happens, the traditional agency will just be a model to study, and the digital agency will quickly and quietly slip into their former place at the top.

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SXSW Interactive Tradeshow

We went to the Interactive Tradeshow today to check out what was on display and to see if anything was interesting. It was good timing too, because we got there right at the start of the Block Party, aka free food and drinks. What a great draw to an otherwise boring Tradeshow, too. The booths that shelled out the extra dough for food and drink enjoyed more engaged and larger crowds by far.

The swag was smart too. With everyone carrying around cold drinks, the booths that offered free drink-cozies were well-trafficked as well:

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Cow and me

Other booths used music, giveaways and dressed up characters to attract attention:

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One of the coolest displays we saw was Pixton, an easy to use comic strip creation online app. Check out their pitch and how they sell and demonstrate the product:

Main takeaways from tradeshow:

  • Have freebies, ideally food and beer, in order to attract attention.
  • If you’re at an interactive conference, make your booth interactive. Everyone likes to play with fun technology.
  • Have a flawless demonstration that is engaging and enthusiastic.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously…

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What’s more important, the destination or the path?

This afternoon, interactive web designer Brendan Dawes was a member of a panel focusing on the importance of showing the creative path rather than the final product alone. One of his most interesting examples was a news site he created which changes the way people receive the news they’re searching for. Without giving too much away, the journey to find information is clearly the principle function of his creation.

Just click on the link, press “open doodlebuzz” and start experimenting.

Doodlebuzz

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Marketing a pencil

A discussion of interactive marketing campaigns used “the pencil analogy” to change my way of thinking. On one side of the spectrum there is a standard, #2 pencil…on the other is a military helicopter.

Anyone can use the #2 pencil. It has the ability to write and erase. There is no user manual, online tutorial or insider tips. Everyone can pick it up and immediately start using it. Then there’s the military helicopter. The helicopter uses hundreds of buttons, knobs and levers to control the way it operates. An individual is required to complete moths of tedious training and virtual simulations before ever being allowed to sit in the pilots seat and raise the machine off the ground. In essence it is impossible to fly without any previous knowledge.

Currently, the majority of interactive marketing campaigns function like the military helicopter. The interfaces are complex and users require above average understanding of programs to access them. The session entitled, “Interactivity Beyond the Screen: Branding in Four Dimensions” concluded that to be successful these campaigns need to function like the pencil, at the most basic levels of understanding.

While I agree that interactive campaigns need to take into consideration the reach of their messaging, I believe a campaign can find a middle ground to reach all audiences. A pencil campaign will quickly lose the interest of the technological and intellectual elite, while a helicopter campaign is too complex for the average consumer to keep up with. Instead, brands need to develop campaigns that use a common voice to embrace the pencil for the common citizen and the helicopter for enthusiasts.

The future of interactive marketing requires engagement and a meaningful dialogue between branding campaigns and a range of audiences. Until this is achieved on an interesting , multi-platform level brands will suffer.

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