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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Everyone Take Their Places Please


Everyone Take Their Places Please

Posted on July 30, 2003 and read 8,674 times

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We were once charged with the task of creating a document that detailed why a customer of an agency we were working with, should pass on the notion of bringing a web developer in house. Why? The answers seemed so obvious and flew into our heads faster than we could jot thoughts on a whiteboard. There were a million reasons why: software and hardware purchases and upgrades, cultural fits, ongoing training, skill development, a steady flow of projects to keep a team of developers and designers busy enough…and the list went on. As the document caught up to our thoughts more questions popped into our heads.

We started asking ourselves, and we’ll ask anyone reading this article: Why do agencies outsource production work on the pre and post–production side of broadcast and print communications but attempt to do Internet production in house? What is so inherently different between these mediums that it creates the desire within agencies to develop their very own interactive competency?

The prospect of easy incremental revenues? A love for remedial development techniques and programming? The hope of spinning off the unit at dot-com valuations? A lack of highly capable partners to outsource to?

These may all have been reasons in the era of the wild west (circa 1996-2000) when the web was just evolving as a high potential of marketing medium, however they make less and less sense with every day that passes.

What doesn’t add huge value is spending their time and resources on key framing flash sequences, upgrading equipment and the endless software releases. How many agencies have AVID suites or calibrated AGFA PressMatch capabilities in their offices? Not many. And for this audience I don’t have to answer why.

At the same time, agencies aren’t the only ones guilty of trying to be all things to all people. Interactive services companies, at some point, decided to take their shot at becoming full-blown (online) agencies. Because, after all, the web was a magical and scary land filled with bugs, viruses and clicks…oh my. What caused interactive services companies to attempt to develop media buying and strategic brand development? Was it the WE got it, and YOU didn’t? Maybe it was the client deciding that interactive required a specialist agency (Interactive AOR) because of a perceived “magic” to marketing on the web. Maybe the traditional agency shied away from the taking ownership of this customer touch point because of the perceived technical complexity required to do quality work. Maybe, maybe, maybe…Regardless, the end result for clients has frequently been a lack of consistency and integration in the marketing message across media. For traditional AOR’s this has meant a loss of control of their accounts, and possibly co-operation with Interactive AOR’s that might not have been their first choice of business partner. Sometimes it may have meant competing with the Interactive AOR for part of the account.

Most Agencies deliver tremendous value to their clients through being the steward of the brand, developing an overall marketing strategy to drive business results, creating unique insight into the needs and behaviors of customers, and maybe most importantly the development of the big campaign IDEA. As media fragments this role becomes increasingly valuable, to ensure consistency, relevancy and growth of the brand. We believe those agencies that can continue to focus on these big picture components will thrive in an increasingly complex world.

Obviously to develop effective strategies for clients you need to be able to evaluate the possibilities in each medium, develop great creative concepts and execute effectively. Online this challenge is becoming more complex. Better creative work is coming out every day, raising the bar of both customers and clients. It is also becoming a richer, more powerful medium demanding deeper production expertise. The web is no longer about simple HTML websites or cute flash animated intros.

The Rich media web is about flash websites, banner ads, advergames, html emails, campaign promotional hubs, and branded online entertainment. What used to be a simple process is becoming increasingly complex and one project can require a team with a complex set of production skills in flash, animation, asp, php, cold fusion, java, .net, just to name a few. Plus you require the software, hardware, and the general infrastructure to support such a venture. Fortunately there is a new breed of interactive service providers who make it their business to excel and advance in the development business.

Are we saying that these experiences have been detrimental to the progress of the medium as a marketing tool? No. It’s a good thing and a natural part of the industry’s evolution that the agencies and interactive services companies have experience with each other’s business – it builds a firm basis of understanding and creates a fertile ground for advancement. However, now is the time, as the Internet starts to truly show its true marketing strength, for everyone to take their places where they fit the best for the brand’s sake. Agencies should continue to be the stewards of the brands and a new breed of interactive service companies are available to collaborate and help them create ground breaking results for the clients.

With over 65% of total online time in Canada being spent by users with high-speed connections, and over 15% of total consumer attention being spent online interactive communications are becoming an increasingly important brand touch point. In fact, a recent poll featured in IMedia reported that 1 in 4 people suggest the web has directly influenced their perception of brands. The web is becoming an incredibly robust and powerful medium to build brands, drive sales results and connect with consumers. Now is time to start taking advantage of that power in the most effective way we know how, by working together and sharing our strengths. After all, competition is good, but collaboration is better.


Rob Balfour
CEO
Trapeze

Jason Chaney
Head of Business Development
Trapeze






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