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…