I read an interesting commentary today from a colleague of mine explaining why most agencies still don’t succeed at interactive advertising. The gist of the argument was that poor media buying led to ineffective campaigns. Very true, but I also think this points us to look at the evolution of the “big agency” take on interactive and why this is only half the equation. Truth be told, at first the failure of big branding agencies to succeed online was because none understood the level of trackability and functionality. It was thought that you just needed to get online because your competitors were there… or weren’t there yet.
A few years later and a few campaigns wiser, most are realizing the errors of their initial efforts. But to that point, are they really “getting” interactive now? In my humble opinion, the answer is no. So what if they’re producing multi-level Flash campaigns with interactive rollover banners and integrated video? That’s aesthetically pleasing and gives the business suits the warm and fuzzies, but does it really produce results?
We constantly preach good design here at Media Two, but for most agencies I think that there’s a disconnect between what’s good design and what’s functional. Good design placed in the right places still doesn’t necessarily produce results, and the converse is certainly true. But when good and functional design is coupled with innovative strategy, the result is a living and breathing media plan that grows and evolves.
So where I’m going with this is that success is two-fold in nature. It begins with the design team understanding the strategy side. Whether it’s copy, images, or functionality you’re talking about, the design team must understand the context in which their work will be viewed. For example, slap the Mona Lisa on the side of a building in East Harlem and it goes unnoticed, but speak to the locals through a blended mural and suddenly an artistic genius emerges.
The second part of this equation is ensuring that the strategy team fully understands the end result the designers are striving to achieve and then using that knowledge to find innovative ways to display it. After all, pictures always look better with a nice frame, right?
In the long run, I think the ultimate demise of most interactive campaigns comes from the inability of both groups in the equation to fully understand each other. It’s the old left brain/right brain conflict at its best. Those agencies that are capable of collective thinking with both brains will be the ones that excel in this industry by driving all parties involved towards a common goal.
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