July 12, 2010
After what seems like a very quick year and a bit, I’m making this my last post here on Digital Agency Blog. There are a few reasons for this – but mainly one BIG reason, which I’ll come on to in a second.
Firstly, I haven’t been able to update it as much as I would have liked in the last year – in fact just doing 1 post a month has been the best I could manage at times. Simply not good enough – I know.
Secondly, I’ve sometimes wanted to blog about things that aren’t just to do with digital, digital agencies or account handling. And by doing so I know I may have lost some of my loyal readership, so I didn’t bother. Again, Simply not good enough – I know.
But with that said, the site has still been bringing in an incredible amount of traffic for a blog of this nature – in its peak over 1000 unique visitors a month from all over the world – literally everywhere from New York to Nigeria. So, in my head at least, this means that people are still interested in what I have to say – so I’m not giving up on the blogging, just moving to another corner of the internet.
But the BIG reason – I’m changing jobs. After a lightening year at Albion London working on some amazing projects with an amazing group of people, I’ve been offered the opportunity to work for quite possibly one of the greatest brands of all time. A chance I simply cannot pass up on. That’s all I’m saying for now 🙂
So this is it. Thank you all for making Digital Agency blog what it’s been, it’s opened a lot of doors for me, given me the chance to network with some very talented people and above all else given me an outlet for my geeky digital musings.
From now on I’ll be blogging here: www.neilpotter.net – apologies for the self indulgent name, ironically I couldn’t come up with anything more creative at the time.
Stay in touch, Neil
May 26, 2010
To follow on from my last post from Andrew Robertson of BBDO, I was lucky enough to listen to another true Account Man, Johnny Hornby of CHI & Partners, talk about his experiences in agency life last night. I’ve doubled this post up with a piece on the Albion blog – so click here to read his top tips.
Johnny Hornby talks about his experiences as an Account Handler
April 13, 2010
I’ve written posts in the past about the differences between digital agencies and more traditional Ad agencies – both claim to be leading the way with innovative communication methods (online or otherwise). So, I thought it was about time I opened the floor on this and asked a few industry stalwarts to chip in – these guys have been living and breathing agency life since before I was donning my graduation cap, so pay attention.
First things first, I’m not going to get bogged down with who comes up with the better ideas – or even start to talk about that magical word ‘creativity’ – that opens a whole world of different arguments. But here goes:
- The attitude. Phil Adams (Ex BBH, Leith and now Managing Partner at Blonde) explains how Digital agencies are naturally collaborative – ‘Digital people share and talk openly in the expectation that doing so will make things better’ and ‘They also embrace the idea of launching something, then perfecting it.’ Whereas he explains traditional Ad agencies can be more closed and insular in terms of generating ideas, building to a ‘supposedly’ perfect big reveal.
- The budgets. Jerome Cortial (Ex Glue, BBH, Weiden +Kennedy and now Strategy director at Saint London) places massive emphasis in the hard cash that different ‘types’ of agencies get hold of: ‘ATL (above the line) agencies have big budgets. They can afford time to think, plan and execute.’ But on the other hand he explains: ‘Digital agencies are built on speed – Briefs need to be written in hours, creative ideas cracked within a few days’.
- The ideas…Digital is NEVER an add on. Keith Martin (Ex WCRS, BBH, Albion and now Business Director at Work Club) will try and claim this one – but I also want it for myself. Look at any agency nowadays that answer a client brief with a TV, Print or PR idea and doesn’t show how it lives and breathes online in its own right, and you’re looking at agency that won’t be around for much longer – Some traditional ad agencies are still guilty of this sin, adding the ‘bolt-on’ digital layer of an idea just to tick the box.
So there are many other differences to add to my list, and I may well run this into a second post later down the line. Things such as agency culture, how ideas are sold in to the client, the ‘rock star’ effect and the key difference in talent that’s attracted to certain types of agency.
But studying the responses I received to the original question – I keep coming back to my original thought – putting all the differences to one side, and I’m in agreement with all of the above (some I’ve seen more clearly than others) – all agencies, no matter what their industry pigeon hole, should just be concentrating on creating communications that capture the imagination of our digital-dependant world.
Thanks to all who contributed, if not mentioned above you certainly added to the thinking here.
February 25, 2010
Something a bit more light-hearted. As an agency Account Manager we often get labelled as a bit of an uninteresting bunch who wallow in the success of our Creative teams ideas (harsh I know). A much more well informed ex-colleague even once said to me – ‘Neil, lets get one thing straight – those who can’t do sell’. So when I saw this Dilbert Cartoon on Adam Graham’s Twitter feed, I thought it would give most suit’s a laugh. Alternatively, if you want some very good advice on being a better Account Handler – check out this post from AdlandSuit.
We're not all like this...
January 21, 2010
To follow on from part 1 earlier in the month, I asked Dave Birss a few more questions on the evolution of Digital media and the difference between the work created by Traditional Vs. pure play Digital agencies. Thanks again to Dave, for taking the time out to put his thoughts across.
How do you think the evolution of all things digital media has affected the agency model in general terms?
I’ve spoken to quite a number of traditional agencies over the past year and I’ve seen some changes in attitude towards digital. But they seem to be pretty half-arsed. They know they have to incorporate it into what they do but they think they can address it by hiring some digital people to ‘integrate’ their work online. That’s never going to work.
It all comes back to this red herring of the word ‘digital’. It’s not about hiring a couple of people to help them fill a new kind of media space. That’s concentrating on entirely the wrong thing. The big change we need to address is consumer behaviour. The influence of advertising in the buying process is continuing to drop. Online retail is continuing to grow. The spread of the mobile web is giving more people access to impartial reviews at the point of purchase. These are the things we need to be addressing.
And I think to do that properly, agencies need to take a more radical look at their model, their structure and their purpose.
Do you think there is a big difference between traditional ad agencies’ digital work compared to pure play digital agencies?
Generally yes. But the difference is a lot less than it used to be.
However, I see each kind of agency tending to fall into different traps. Please excuse these obnoxiously sweeping generalizations. And please understand that the comments that follow are based on my experience in quite a number of agencies rather than in my current position!
‘Pure Play’ Digital Agencies have tended to suffer from a lack of integration. This is not entirely their fault. They are usually given a brief that only applies within the boundaries of pixel-ville, along with a TV ad and a poster campaign that’s not designed for participation or engagement. To get anything that will attract any kind of involvement, they either have to go off-message or use borrowed interest. The result is a disjointed consumer journey.
On the other hand, traditional ad agencies often come up with digital work that ‘integrates’ with their TV ad or poster campaign. By integrating, I mean that they come up with stuff that uses the same visual assets or hangs on the same line. It’s as if the digital stuff is the less important bit that gets added on after the more ‘glamorous’ work has been done. And the job of the digital work seems to be to advertise the advertising.
I’ve been scathing to both camps, I know. Basically, I think the entire industry needs a fresh approach. One with an engaging idea at the centre of it that integrates seamlessly from the first time the audience encounters it to the moment they hand over their credit card. I live in a utopian world!
Part 2 - Interview with Dave Birss
January 14, 2010
A while back I read a blog post that really got me thinking. Written way back in 2007, by Dave Birss. The post explained Dave’s thinking on the evolving Agency model and generally what he thought on the Traditional Agency V Digital Agency debate. To save time you can read the original post in full here, but in a nutshell, Dave’s forward thinking on what he thought the future held led me to ask him a few more questions.
For those of you who don’t know, Dave is Head of Digital Creative at OgilvyOne and Creative Head of the Ogilvy Digital Lab (an innovation division within the agency). He’s been agency side for over 15 years with a long list of top agencies – Poke and MRM to name just two. Listen hard and listen well.
Every agency under the sun seems to claim to ‘get digital’ at the moment – what are your thoughts on this?
I think that ‘getting digital’ is a bit of a red herring. What surprises me is how many agencies don’t ‘get people’. The old way of doing advertising was simply about finding an interesting way of communicating a client’s message. That worked in a broadcast culture. But things aren’t like that now. It’s not about digital technology – it’s how digital technology has changed people’s behaviour and expectations.
It’s easier for consumers to have their voice heard. It’s easier to find out the opinions of people who’ve used a product. It’s easier to share information with your friends. The agencies that truly ‘get people’ will be coming up with the most effective ideas. Bad ones will be creating work that gets ignored.
The post you wrote back in 2007 described three distinct approaches a digital agency could take in order to survive the future – do you still agree with this now?
My opinion hasn’t changed too much. But if I was to write that piece again today, I’m sure it would be pretty different. I’ve got a whole new swarm of bees in my bonnet!
To be honest, ad agencies haven’t adopted digital quite as well as I thought they would. I suppose the economic downturn is one reason for that as they’ve been concentrating on just staying afloat. But I still think a lot of them continue to suffer from ostrich syndrome, thinking the world will at some point start loving TV ads again like they did in the 80s. Good luck to them!
– I’ll post more on this interview later in the month.
Part 1 - Interview with Dave Birss
December 22, 2009
A few weeks back I was lucky enough to listen to a true pro, Andrew Robertson, talk about his time in the advertising industry. As well as some first-class tips on account handling and career planning, his advice to anyone working agency-side is worth sharing. This guy knows his stuff.
- On gaining clients respect…You can only expect your client to respect you and your agency if you ensure you know more than them. It’s a bit blunt – but 100% true. This point really proves why we need to have our fingers firmly on the pulse of emerging technologies.
- On client relationships…Love your client – they are real people after all, and they will respond to you better if they feel you are genuinely passionate about their business. Is this obvious? Too many times I have heard ‘I’m doing a boring project for a public sector client’. Being excited about your work will only shine through if there is a real spark for wanting to produce something great.
- On Innovation…The most difficult thing is to find ‘something’ that is genuinely useful to people. On demand TV, Facebook, the iphone – all things that are genuinely useful and improve our daily lives in some way – keeping this top of mind when producing digital output is paramount. Always ask the question ‘Why am I doing this and what value will it add?’.
- On developing a successful career path…Always try and take the opportunity to change your perspective. Whether that be working in a different country, a different agency or even working client side for a while.
- On Consumer behaviour…Despite the changing environment and introduction of everything ‘digital’, consumers still operate in the same way. Understand this in relation to your clients industry or sector and you will be able to apply these principles to every aspect of your strategic thinking.
- More on Innovation…Identify new trends and react to them fast. More applicable than ever to the digital industry; if you’re not first, your competition will be.
Tips From the Top