As part of the process of moving here, I did a small talk on why a digitally flavoured agency needs planning.
How, for a more vociferous point of view, look at this. What I said was based around two slides.
Advertising agencies got found out around 15 years ago, when clients began to look at what they were getting in return for fees that paid for Porche's, lunches at the Ivy and, even Up North, a very plush life for agency types. We've been seeing the slow decline of ad agencies ever since, amplified by the claimed decline in effectiveness of paid for, traditional above the line. If you're any good, you do okay, if you're not, you're fishfood.
A similar thing is happening with digital agencies. For a few years they had the upper hand over clients and other agencies thanks to being the only ones that 'get' the technology. A few whizzy websites, a bit of SEO and a few banner ads and yay, make lots of money!
But now they're getting found out. Clients are looking at very pretty, but very useless pieces of digital art and questioning what the return is, and unfortunately for digital, that's very easy to measure.
You wouldn't believe the amount of digital specialists I've worked with that have no clue about building ideas around people, who just want to update the website. When more people don't even bother with brand websites, they just noodle around they're own social hubs, this 'act' is wearing a little thin.
Technology is still massively important, things are moving quicker and quicker. But knowing how things work and what is possible is useless without knowing what it's for.
Then there's display advertising. Hand on heart, can you remember an ad on the web that made you sit up and really take notice? I can't, but I can still remember how I felt watching the first 'Just Do It' ads, or 'Balls'.
Just because the medium might have changed - and boy how things have changed, it doesn't mean the skills have. It's bloody complex now. Digital? I give you post digital, the Internet of Things, Transmedia Planning....multiple touchpoints, people, surprise surprise, doing what they want, not what you tell them and shutting out brands, and culture in general that doesn't earn their attention. e - interacting with brands across a series of touchpoints rather than one web portal.
That brought me to the second slide, thieved from Gaping Void.
Digital stuff hasn't changed people, it's simply enabled them to be more human. One way, authoritarian media and culture managed to pretend otherwise for a while, but humans are social creatures and can't help responding to others around them, wanting to belong to a group and acting social. Social networking isn't new, it's just magnified how people really behave.
In other words, it's not enough to know the technology, you have to know people. You have to build ideas around how real people behave, be relevant, interesting, know when to show up, how to fit into their lives.
And that sounds familiar doesn't it? That's what people that grew up doing brand stuff and advertising learned to do as second nature (the good ones).
Thats' what planners do - as far as I'm concerned, there's no such thing as a digital planner, I'd wager there won't be as many digital agencies soon, maybe on or two specialists that are especially good, but there will be agencies that don't do advertising, they don't do 'digital' or, they just have ideas that connect people with brands in the right way - the brand, but also for the people.
That's going to need planners more than ever before. So the idea of 'digital' is a little silly as far as the future is concerned. Ad agencies are going to become good at doing stuff that isn't just advertising, the good ones already are. So called digital agencies will have to get good at proper strategy and creativity.
There are pioneers of course. Balloonacy is great, wonderful use of technology, what you need people to do and built around a brand idea.
This TV commercial was designed to let people in and share and discuss online.
This idea for Oasis is based on classic planning - increase frequency by persuading young people to have a decent lunch, of which Oasis is a critical ingredient. TV is activation, reach and engagement, but there's a campaign to join in with on Facebook.