Dave Birss on Digital (Part 2.)

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

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2 Responses to “Dave Birss on Digital (Part 2.)”

  1. B gulwe Says:

    I live in a utopian world!

  2. B gulwe Says:

    I know

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