Before I get into this topic I should mention that I work in advertising, though I don’t mention it specifically very often. Working in this industry I’ve been thoroughly surprised at the approach taken by many advertising professionals in regards to digital advertising. (Even those individuals who come from “digital” shops.) Enough so that I thought it was important to write this piece about the state of the ad world and how the current advertising process must evolve and grow to truly embrace the world we live in.
In the 1700’s English newspapers started to run the first mass reproduced print ads. Around 1920 the world heard the first radio ads. The 1940’s brought our parents and grandparents the first TV ads. And the first banner ad showed up in 1993. We’ve had a long time to get good at “traditional” advertising but digital advertising is only 18 years old.
Correction: Digital advertising is already 18 years old.
Technology moves fast and in that time we’ve evolved from simple static images and moving gifs to dynamically generated interactive rich content experiences that can connect real-time to millions of networks, devices and people. Along with that evolution in format there’s been an evolution in focus. We live in an always on world. Where advertising and entertainment blend together across 1,000’s of environments and screens. Even TV – possibly the most captive of channels – has to compete with our iPhones, tablets and laptops. With the most recent numbers pegging that distraction level at 88%. We have to evolve our process and our thinking.
Take a look at the spend and impression numbers across media channels for our clients and campaigns. For many of them, not all of them, but many – you’ll notice a trend: impressions and reach in digital channels meet or far exceed the others. How can we hope to connect our message unless we’re crafting it with the right medium in mind? Why start the creative process with a print ad when millions more will see the web banners? How do we create digital advertising that is engaging enough to cut through the noise?
None of us have the answers to those questions. But like every great problem finding the answer starts with trying to solve it.
With that in mind I’d like to mention Project Re:Brief.
Re:Brief has been kicking around for a few months and was even featured in a session this year at SXSW. Some of you may have heard of this, some not. But I think everyone will find something interesting and inspiring from it. In 2011, Google partnered with four global brands in an advertising experiment to re-imagine and remake their most iconic ad campaigns from the 1960’s and 1970’s with today’s technology, led by the creative legends who made the campaigns.
Project Re:Brief doesn’t include any secret sauce of advertising. It isn’t “the” answer. But it’s an attempt.
Lets give it a go – let’s evolve.