Digital: A jumpstart for connections on the web
April 25, 2008

Others that know me and consider me the “techy girl”; more on a bronze/silver level than a gold. I can and do understand a lot of “webspeak” when it comes to working on the back-end of a website, know many interesting nooks and crannies on the web, and really I know how to find almost anything about anything.

This passion for the internet and all things in it has come from a basic understanding of how advertising on the web works from a metrics standpoint and a strategy standpoint. Once I understood that you can optimize on a media plan during a campaign, I was hooked.

With the realization that not understanding interactive advertising would mean “job obsoleteness” in the future, later came the epiphany that not knowing offline would accrue the same result. Hence agencies recently rolling back in their “interactive” departments into offline/online sitting in adjacent cubicles: MindShare Reveals Major Re-structuring.

In relevance to this blog about gaps in the industry and connections planning, the question of investigation is how, and if so why is connections planning alive on the web?

(more…)

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Integration is Key
April 23, 2008

Highly integrated products are my favorite types of branded utility. The more your product can work with and complement other products, the higher the satisfaction level of your consumer. In order to develop a more highly integrated product, you must establish two things

1) A collaborative model within your agency or company. Today is the universal launch of Facebook chat, a perfect example of deeper integration within an already established utility. Facebook provides many of the functions that other websites provide, while aggregating them all under one brand. Sharing pictures, chatting and messaging are all executed in one portal. Then the features of each utility are integrated within each other. If someone goes offline while you are chatting with them, you can send them a message. Engineers from each team must work together to make this possible.

2) Don’t let your strategy and marketing be confined to the walls of your building (or maybe intranet in this day and age). A willingness to think outside of your product and your company is key in developing branded utility. I think the business world calls this… partnerships. I referenced the Nike+ and iTunes example in my last branded utility post, but it is a stellar example of thinking out side of your walls. On the surface the two companies are very different. They began with identifying the core values and needs of their consumer. Then found a way to collaboratively become a relevant part of their target’s routine

I think it could be fun to brainstorm potential future branded utility partnerships. What do you think? Also, check out Noah Brier’s post on branded utility. There are awesome ideas in here!

What is Connections Planning?
April 2, 2008

Connections Planning was the jumping off point for Adbridge. Last spring, I had the opportunity to work with the Connections Planning Team at GSD&M here in Austin. Then in the fall, I went to the Connections Planning Conference hosted by Trumpet Brand Studio. Afterwards, I sat down with my media professor and had a conversation about Connections Planning, and what it meant for our discipline and industry. We committed to doing an independent study aimed to pinpoint the role of connections in the industry.

Our first task in the independent study was to do a white paper on Connections/360/Communications Planning. The four of us dove right into the research and realized the issue we want to address is bigger than a new discipline in an ad agency. Connections isn’t account planning for media, or media as the new creative. The real issue is the call for change in the advertising agency model. This refers back to Jennifer’s Post on the agency as a well-oiled machine. It functions efficiently, but not to its full creative potential.

To us, Connections Planning is simply a mindset and a way of looking at agency structure and strategy. It is an agency model where egos are checked at the doors, and the people are inspired by collaboration and working in teams. The right idea for a campaign can come from any department. Many of the agency interviews to come will represent the ways Connections has manifested itself in agencies today.

So this is what we think…what do you think? Is this a new discipline, another layer added to our system of strategy or a band-aid to the much bigger problem in agencies today.

Assembly lines for advertising are oiled by the people who like structure in an industry that is supposed to be about change.
March 18, 2008

http://honors.rit.edu/amitraywiki/images/8/8f/Assembly.jpg

1) Agencies in the advertising industry have become strictly structured producers.

Ideas are divided into parts with media, creative, account services/planning taking a piece. Communication between each group occurs only when they need to, telling each other just what they need to know to do their job and complete their work. What often lacks in this communication is explaining the reasoning, the vision, and the conceptual thought behind the decisions.

2) Advertising Campaigns are completed in a linear process, because it’s efficient

The overall advertising campaign is completed in one of two ways, both a linear state-of-mind. The first linear state is when a percentage of the work is completed by one department and then passed along to the next; thinly building on the previous portion. Even worse, as mentioned before, is the second linear state where work is completed, with a lack of communication between, at the same time with limited intersections with other tools.

3) If you have ever worked in agencies that seem to use a lot of the same tools over and over again, and you find it odd that they seem stuck in their ways—they might suffer from ‘Assemblage’.

The physical and intellectual separation by departmentalization and using tools that people are comfortable with using have made advertising an assembly line: ‘Get the work done in the quickest way possible’—instead of a way of thinking or procedure that has the most optimization for the client. The ‘assembly line’ method affects agencies by creating a system that produces similar work for different clients. ‘Do what is familiar, do what is easy and get it out the door.’

4) There is only ownership of work and no ownership of thought.

Not to say that the day to day operations of dealing with representatives of print and broadcast companies do not take a talent, professional intellect and instinct, but when the actual strategy for the client is left to a very small amount of people, from the outside perspective—everyone else is just filling out the paperwork.

5) We need to talk. We need to exchange. We need to drop the assembly line attitude.

People can be so concerned with getting the work out so efficiently that they form a structure, which restricts the flow of ideas, the development of ideas and makes it quite difficult to get your thinking outside of the box—because they do not have time to get out.

Sources:

“The Marketing Company Communications Disconnect: And Why Ad Agencies Are Viewed as Laborers Rather Than Architects”

By A. Louis Rubin, Advertising Age
Published: June 06, 2005

Commentary by A. Louis Rubin
It’s the sad truth that no one in the communications business wants to acknowledge or admit but the bottom line is that few communications professionals are invited into the inner sanctorum of marketers’ strategy and planning sessions on the executive committee level.