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Interactive, digital, whatever – it’s here. Will your agency survive?

4asdigi.gifI mentioned some time ago that I was on my way to attend the 4As Digital Conference for Agencies of All Kinds in NYC in mid June. I hopped an early morning flight with my CEO and our web and creative directors to Manhattan for the day. The conference was well done except for this – no wireless. What kind of digital conference doesn’t have wireless?! Although, I was probably one of maybe five people there with a laptop.

Some unsurprising, but healthy headlines from the conference included:

  • Agencies need to be willing to try things and be passionate about the online space. Creativity in strategy, creative and analytics are a must.
  • Silo-free is the agency of the future. Look at every campaign from every angle. Look across all channels of outreach that best fit the product. Digital does not replace traditional, it complements it.
  • Agencies must find creative ways to reach that lost audience and they must allow the consumer to engage with the brand on his own terms. Find creative ways for that to happen.
  • Additional web-based interactive complements traditional campaigns. Feedback from consumer and analytics are critical. Pay attention and use them well. Chicks fighting can be a popular interactive campaign (don’t ask).

A nifty panel discussion on the Ad agency of the future wrought some interesting comments. Claims that boutiques will not survive, like the small web agencies of yesteryear. Slowly clients start to realize that boutiques don’t have the communication experience necessary. Digital boutiques are making a lot of noise, and making a lot of “cool” things, but are they fulfilling the goals of the client? Agencies will need to develop their own in-house digital to survive. You cannot NOT know the digital space, but you also have to know traditional communication strategies and tactics. I don’t know, what do you think? Will the digital, interactive advertising agencies of today wane?



Chris Weil of Momentum Worldwide presented on how digital works in experiential marketing. Pretentious, but really fun to view. Great presentation. He said digital is not about agencies or a tactic that you add on. Digital embodies everything we do in marketing. Customers don’t segment experiences. We need to understand and orchestrate the experience that the consumer has with the brand across all channels. We must inspire consumers to lift their heads, to disengage their digits and get engaged with interaction. Effectiveness of brand experience plus the stickiness of brand interactive is huge. Number one for all consumers is experience; number two is word of mouth.

John Bell, managing director & executive creative director at Ogilvy PR Worldwide, was understandably my favorite presentation. Hey, what can I say, I’m a PR guy. I was impressed with Ogilvy’s 360 Degree Branding approach, but will have to keep an eye on what they do to see if it’s walking the walk. John mentioned typical things like authentic conversations with consumers is critical, is engagement. People are resonating with other people, they don’t trust corporations or marketing or advertising. Ogilvy is following trends in the digital space and tying messages to those online trends. Same as traditional PR, just in a different space, stripped of the corporate speak and hype. Conversations are ruling this space.armour-young.jpg

Other special highlights of the day were meeting John January from American Copywriter and having lunch with the infamous Paull Young. Funny story, I called Paull on my lunch break and said “I’m done, where do we meet?” He was like, “I don’t know, just walk down the street you’re on and we’ll meet up.” Mind you, I haven’t been in NYC since I was 5 and Paull just moved there a month ago. So, it finally dawned on us, where would be a good place to meet up on NYC that we could both find? How about the Empire State Building!? D’oh…those silly country boys.


4 Responses

  1. Luke —

    Thanks for the report on the 4As digital conference. I had heard about it, but wasn’t able to attend. Seems like these sort of conferences are springing up all over the place. I went to what sounds like a similar conference hosted by the Council of PR Firms and Google. The message was nearly identical: any solid outreach will no doubt utilize web 2.0 tools while operating within a large sphere of traditional communications.

    To your question: I’d like to believe forward-thinking PR pros will soon be able to shoulder most of the work currently being produced in smaller digital ad shops. Your blogroll is proof that many PR pros have the skills to connect in the digital space, but they also have experience in thinking strategically about communications, rather than just the “click-through rate” mindset held by most online ad pros. As one of the former, I’m clearly biased and welcome the thoughts of advertisers — benign or furious.


  2. John – Great comment. Like you, I believe some of the digital space should be handled by PR. Often, it’s simply relationship building through new mediums. Shall I say, “good” PR people? Because we’ve all heard about the flacks that push messages with no strategy, attempt at understanding the target, or thought. I would be thrilled to go to an online PR conference, because I’m aware through associations a great number of PR folks turning their heads to what’s happening. I’ve seen the ad side, who’s inviting me to a Digital PR conference? Anyone?

  3. Oh, I came on here to make some sort of hilarious comment about your lack of posting but now realise I haven’t a leg to stand on.

    Carry on Mr A, carry on.

  4. great blog. keep it up 🙂

    most would think that traditional media is going down the drain.. but i don’t personally think so. as you mentioned above, digital media complements traditional. i strongly agree with it. my experience tells me that way… my website which was set-up by Prova does a good job of capturing the online readers but an equal and effective dose of traditional media gives reinforcement…

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