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As I waited in line with hundreds of fellow Ad Week delegates to learn from the wit and wisdom of R/GA leaders Nick Law (Chief Creative Officer) and Barry Wacksman (Executive VP, Chief Growth Officer), I tried to conjure up all that I knew about the “traditional” agency model. I focused on mass reach and mass appeal across a standard media buy, and wondered just how well we’re doing as an industry in adjusting to a new paradigm, with more targeted audiences and niche markets and all within a wider media landscape. It turns out that R/GA has put together a framework that can help all of us envision and understand that new paradigm – and figure out ways to create smarter, more relevant campaigns for today’s consumer.
So why do we need to rethink the landscape? Why do agencies need to adjust how they create campaigns to speak to today’s market? To understand that, we need to understand where we started. Successful advertising began with successful storytelling. From early political campaigns to convincing the public that they should be buying cheese by the slice, advertisers wove storytelling into the very fabric of each campaign, essentially telling the public what they needed to know.
With the advent of TV, the messages and the stories suddenly reached a mass audience, and the national media buy was born. Storytelling on a national and even a global level became the norm, and the only way for advertisers to tell this story to this wide audience was through interruption.
Advertising interruption happened every time a TV commercial came on, or when someone caught sight of a billboard on the way home from work, or heard an ad on the radio. Interruption became the norm, and agencies and clients all organized themselves after this model. 80% of an ad investment went to paid media, and 20% went toward production, and this worked – advertising enjoyed good results and good growth.
Today, clients and consumers are demanding a new investment model, and as a result, we need to re-define what agencies should be delivering. The new digital age represents a “multiplication of contexts.” In this age of commoditized brands, it’s hard to grow, and the only way to grow is by being innovative. The old 80% / 20% model has been flipped upside down – now production is 80% of the pie, with diminishing results from mass media and more powerful results emerging from digital investment, even with a lower spend for paid media placements.
The learning? We need to invest in ideas, rather than just thinking about investing in media.
Now it’s 2010, and we have such a wide range of ways to reach people, not all of which are paid media, and not all of which are interruptive – hence, the multiplication of contexts.
Below are my notes from Nick and Barry’s examination of ten contexts that resonate in today’s media landscape:
So how can we take advantage of all these new contexts? By focusing on the three action items I will discuss in Designing an Agency for the Digital Age - Part 2.
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Really interesting … so many agencies are talking integration btw digital and traditional. The challenge seems to be how to bring all the contexts together in a meaningful way. (P.S. Your handwriting is ridiculous)