(for readers in a hurry ... start at paragraph 4)
Back from holiday I was flooded with work, opportunities, fun and very little time for blogging. But on this sunny Sunday afternoon, floating in the pool I was thinking about advertising agencies and what differentiates one from the other.
At ONE Agency we've succeeded in claiming a piece of the interactive agency territory in only a few months time. More or less everybody agrees we are a different agency. I've heard that remark from several people, customers, colleagues and competitors. In fact it was a mail from an advertising professional I got this morning that triggered my thinking, so we are different ...
Well, of course we are. We know a bit about marketing, so we think it's crucial to differentiate from competition. However, what we do different is not the result of careful strategic consideration but from what we truly believe in. And I'm convinced this is the only good way to build a company. Go for something you believe in. And either you're very lucky (which is rare), or you are a genius (even more rare) or you have gathered enough knowledge so what you believe in is also the right thing to do. I personally have been filling up my brain through different jobs, listening to intelligent people, reading books and enjoying life in a true "Blink-style" for some years now, and I have the feeling I'm starting to understand some things. Like ... what advertising agencies should be doing in this age of consumer 2.O. They should become New Marketing Agencies.
And one of the things these new marketing agencies should do is build media. Last century agencies had to help customers choose which medium to use, today we have to help them build their own media. And this is one of the things we seem to have a good view on at ONE Agency. Result is that we get solicited quite often by media-companies who are in a constant struggle with themselves these days.
Now, what do I mean with building media? For starters, when I speak about "media", I mean interactive media, as I'm convinced these will be the only ones left soon. A website is a medium, but obviously it needs to be a real platform for interaction. Something that looks more like a medium we all know is internet radio. Today one can launch a brand radio online with a limited investment. It could be in the shape of streaming radio (like www.humoradio.be) or podcasting. We have at least 4 customers/prospects who are actively working on internet TV. Again such a 'station' can take many shapes, from a simple set of movies to download, over video podcasts to something to the likes of Joost. A last medium to me are all the games and contests agencies organize today. In fact these the branded versions of TV Game shows, but interactive this time.
Not every company or brand has the leverage to build a complete medium of their own. But most successful new media sites offer features to build your own branded experience there. It could be a myspace page or a channel on YouTube or simply a blog on blogspot ... and lots of that is for free.
So where are the 'traditional' media in all of this (and I consider the portal sites as traditional media)? I think they really have to carefully consider their position. Look at what their strengths are, look at the future and decide to go for a vision that will keep up in the coming years (so not just take your strengths and translate them to something digital). If they don't, the traditional media will be overtaken by brands and marketeers, if they do, brands and marketeers will start seeing them as allies in their quest for interaction and engagement with customes.