Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Friday, June 01, 2007

Commercial: Of digital agencies and experience

An interesting post by Rory Sutherland at Brand Republic on why digital agencies have failed to develop applications and online services and experiences such as Facebook and Flickr? Any reasons?, he asks.

Part of the answer comes simply from the fact that if you are still working within a campaigns/communication mindset, then you won't see the richness of possibilities that online/digital/mobile affords you. Another is given by Peter Merholz at Core 77 - that most brands do not think about the experiences that they deliver. And if brands are not thinking in that way, they are less likely to be demanding that their advertising and marketing agencies, whether traditional or digital, will supply them with ideas that they can turn into applications.

The community aspect also has to be considered: brands would have to be willing, really willing, to let communities solve problems themselves. And on the evidence of efforts such as Heinz's in trying for find user-generated ads that meet quality and brand standards, that's still a long way off.

And of course, if the idea is good enough to be an successful app, why would you not go on and try to monetize it yourself, rather than give it away or sell it cheaply to a client?

Asking agencies to deliver 'utility' to their clients online, is perhaps too much. Things like Facebook are specific responses to problems with existing services or experiences. Engineers solved the problems, entrepreneurs sold the solutions.

Perhaps what this shows is that there is a real need for advertising agencies to understand changing currents in service design, innovation thinking and software engineering. Room for a new type of agency, perhaps?

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