10 Reasons Why Digital is Better Than Advertising – Number 2

Number 2 - You can just do stuff

OK, you have to know some stuff to put things on the Internet, but not that much. Just look at the people in 80% of YouTube videos, do they look like they know how to do complicated computer stuff? Or use a VCR? Or open a tin? In spite of this the girl on the left and her friends have had over 12m views of their video clip.

Basically if you have an idea, good or bad, you can make it happen online. There’s not that many people who can stop you. You really can just do ‘interesting’ things – globalrichlist.com and cock-a-doodle.co.uk are 2 projects that we’ve done just for the hell of it (with a degree, however small, of social conscience).

Of course you can still do those things and not work in a digital agency, you could work anywhere. But imagine how much fun it would be to have that kind of creative freedom, every day, in your job.

10 Reasons Why Digital is Better Than Advertising – Number 1

1 - You don't have to do advertising

Digital agencies sometimes do advertising. But only a few of them call themselves ‘digital advertising agencies’. This means that we’re given permission to do lots of other things. If you work in advertising you are typically expected to do advertising. Clients come to you for advertising. They brief you to do advertising. And they expect advertising in return. The term advertising is loaded with baggage, heavy baggage that’s hard to get rid of.

The ad industry has been broken up and broken down so that direct response, in-store, brand identity and all those things are mostly handled by different people. ‘Digital advertising’ has historically been treated in the same way – it’s something that another bunch of people do.

We can see this changing all around us, as a new sort of re-integration is happening, a lot of it seemingly driven by the upsurge in digital focus and spending.

Advertising agencies are good at advertising, it’s what they do. Much better than most digital agencies and most digital advertising agencies too (if such a thing really exists). Arguably the skills you need to create digital advertising can easily be bought and seamlessly incorporated into ad agency process. Either by bringing the skills in-house or using digital production shops.

In this way the people and processes that produce big smart communications ideas can take over and squirt out great integrated / digital campaigns – just look at Crispin Porter – the no 1. ‘Digital Agency’ at Cannes last year. But of course, Cannes is all about advertising.

Personally I’m all too happy for Ad Agencies to get stuck in doing more advertising using more different kinds of channels. I’m just not convinced that the skills for producing great advertising are the same as the skills needed to do the kind of digital stuff that gets me excited.

So what am I talking about?

I think it’s my inner-inventor that loves the digital space. It’s not just about creating content, it’s about designing and building the platform that the content exists on too. As a crude example the opportunities afforded to us are like being able to invent how a TV works at the same time as shooting a film. Only the devices that are connected to the web are infinitely more powerful and more adaptable than a TV. Personally I think this mindset is quite different from a traditional communications mindset. Something we see all the time when we’re interviewing people.

And I’m not saying that advertising agencies haven’t done brilliant non-advertising things too, because of course they have, lots of them.

Number 2 coming soon…

10 Reasons Why Digital is Better Than Advertising

Photo borrowed from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurelfan/46008873/

I started writing this list of 10 things after I chaired a debate at the D&AD about ‘Consumers In Control’ which basically turned into a mass venting of frustrations from people working in both digital and traditional advertising. It’s obvious that there’s lots of conflicting opinions and lots of repressed anger.

Originally I’d written this as one big long monster post. But I think it works better as a series – it means that people can comment on each point individually and I can be attacked point-by-point rather than in one big monster onslaught. I do welcome any comments positive or negative, but this isn’t supposed to be deliberately inflammatory, honest.

I’m going to release them roughly one-a-day.

A couple of caveats, hopefully to pre-empt any real hatred that this might inspire:

Firstly. I’m going to have to put forward my definition of ‘digital’. As it stands digital is a bit of a duff word to describe what we do, as Richard says when he talks about ‘not getting digital’:

When they say ‘digital’ do they mean that they embrace digital means of communicating information? Funny but I am struggling to find some non-digital means of communication.

He’s absolutely right. Almost everything is digital which is why it’s so difficult to get this point across.

So let me clarify. The digital world I love is all about:

  • Interaction – 2-way or more.
  • Things that connect stuff together – whether it’s people talking to people, people talking to machines (so the machines can give them services or information in return), machines talking to other machines (in order to make the stuff they know more powerful).
  • Environments – in the olden days of online lots of people used to talk about online as if it was a bunch of spaces, hence the language or architects, sitemaps, chatrooms, etc.
  • Digitisation – taking things that can be turned into zeros and ones and pumping them down wires in ways that make them more interesting than they were before. Youtube did with video. Napster and podcasting have done with audio. Flickr and photos. Skype & Voice. Maps. Directories. And I don’t think anyone can miss the effect that the web has had on text.

Secondly, it’s worth stating this is all opinion. My opinion. Born out of my experiences. Really I should have called this “10 reasons why I’m happier working in a digital agency than an advertising agency, and who gives a shit what I think anyway”. But that’s hardly snappy is it?

    Oh well, here comes reason one…

    Fancy Working For Orange?

    Orange are on the lookout for a new Digital Manager.

    Obviously the best thing about the job is that you’ll get to work with Poke, and you’ll get to boss us around. And we have to be nice to you. But aside from that it’s a pretty cool role.

    It’s got all the things you’d look for in a client side job and a great team to work with. It’s based in Paddington.

    They’re looking for someone with:

    • 3-5 years in digital marketing
    • Demonstration of managing digital campaigns (and be able to show some cool stuff you’ve worked on)
    • Experience of media planning online (at a campaign level)
    • All the things associated with running jobs (project management, dealing with agencies, budget management, etc.)

    From where I sit this could be a really great opportunity. The team is relatively small and able to ‘get stuff done’. And now that they’re a fully converged mobile/broadband company there’s some pretty cool stuff coming up.

    If you want more information get in touch and I’ll hook you up…

    Your future could be bright ;-)

    Horrible Misguided Integrated Campaign

    Ask Campaign

    Basically this site: http://www.information-revolution.org and it’s associated advertising try to position this organisation as a sort of free choice organisation campaigning against the dominance of Google. But it’s a campaign for Ask.

    It’s truly terrible. A massive trainwreck of the highest order. I could write pages and pages of bitching, but I’m not going to. Just visit the site anlook at the comments (if they’ve not been taken down). Some of my favourites:

    Viva la Choice!
    I’ll choose anything but Ask!

    You people at Ask need to re-think whose gonna run your media campaigns. I bet you’re all thinking “yeah but we got you on our site and engaged in discussion”…Keep trying… over the next 5 years i’m sure you might be able to gain some of the market share you are currently throwing down the toilet with this sham!!

    Spend more money in making your search engine work properly and sack all those media muppets that came up with this information revolution idea.

    And this I really love:

    Shouldn’t your ad campaign appear at least 1X on your own search engine especially since it appears several times on Google.

    That’s what happens when you hi-jack an insight (or in this case a genuine human concern) and trick people into coming to your site. Strangely they don’t like it. Fair play to them for leaving the comments open, but I bet they were wishing they hadn’t.

    And they’ve spent shedloads on media both on and offline. And they’ve built a blog inside an i-frame, muppets ;-)

    I Like MOMA

    This is the second time I’ve said I don’t want to blog about what I had for breakfast. But in a roundabout way I’m doing it again…

    This morning I stopped at a little stand called MOMA at London Bridge (I have to admit the first time I saw their sign I did a double take as I thought they were advertising MDMA which wouldn’t be usual commuter fodder at 8am).

    They sell healthy breakfast things. Oaty-Yoghurty things as well as dried fruits and that kind of stuff. All looks very nice, and like a worthy way to start my day. So for the first time today I bought one. And here’s how the interaction went:

    me: what’s that, and what’s that
    stallholder: explains…
    me: ok, I’ll have one
    stallholder: puts pot in bag and pops in a little card, says: “hope you enjoy it, will you email us and let us know what you think

    Here’s the card:

    moma card

    And you know what. I will email them and let them know what I thought. And not only that, I’ll write it on my blog too:

    Really tasty. I feel satisfied but not over-full. And I’ll definitely go back for me.

    And yes, lots of companies say: “tell us what you think”. But how often does someone actually ask you face to face to email them about whether you like something or not. Big companies with big customer service budgets (and marketing budgets for that matter) could learn a thing from a little stall inside a station.

    You can find out more about them at: http://www.momafoods.co.uk

    Like a Virgin

    like a virginIt’s really odd. But since I’ve been away for a week on holiday I’ve found it really really hard to start blogging again. I’ve faced the blank WordPress interface a couple of times now, but I just can’t seem to do it.

    It’s not that I haven’t got anything interesting to say, well no less un-interesting than the normal rubbish anyway. But there’s some kind of psychological hurdle that I’ve got to get over. And I suppose this post is my way of doing it.

    It feels almost like the very first blog post I ever wrote. The same feelings are back:

    • What are people going to think?
    • What if someone calls me a tosser in the comments?
    • I’m sure no-one gives a shit what I think…
    • No-one’s really going to read it anyway, so what does it matter…

    But this time, I’m slightly older, and perhaps slightly blog-wiser. So I’m not going to let these thoughts trouble me for quite as long.

    Anyway, like someone who’s just had their hymen reconstructed ‘doing it’ for the first time (again), it’s great to have popped my cherry (again).

    Some More Thoughts On Twitter

    From Ian Curry at frog design: Twitter: The Missing Messenger

    He makes the connection between Twitter and Tumblelogs too. But there’s two bits in his post that I especially like.

    basically blogging reduced to what the Russian linguist Mikhail Bakhtin
    called “the phatic function.” Like saying “what’s up?” as you pass
    someone in the hall when you have no intention of finding out what is
    actually up, the phatic function is communication simply to indicate
    that communication can occur.


    Or is it, as one of my co-workers pithily put forth, merely “Dodgeball for people who don’t go out”.

    Or is it both ;-)