It Takes a Village

“It takes a village to raise a child” is an expression communicating the fact that it takes many different people, with their varying views and priorities, to form the person that a child becomes. The same is true when it comes to creating a successful digital media campaign.

There was a time, way back in 2006, when we were lucky enough to be a part of these kinds of collaborative efforts. For me, digital media was at its best when we (the creative agency) were sitting around a table along with the media company, the social outreach team, the client and their marketing team, all discussing an upcoming campaign and brainstorming ideas together. The media plan had not been set, blog outreach had not begun, and there wasn’t even key art available yet. All of these parties came together to discuss the tone of the campaign, the target audience, the goals of the project, and we put our collective heads together to develop a unified plan of attack. If we came up with a great creative execution that the client loved, the media team could send RFP’s with this in mind and the social outreach team could plan ahead for where the best buzz would be generated. This was a time when the creative team was brought into the fold much earlier so we were a part of these critical conversations from the start. As a result, the user experience was better, everyone was happier and the media was badass. As a team, we were kicking ass and taking names – we were, innovating and making great strides forward in the digital media space.

And then, for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, it all came to a screeching halt. It feels like we’re starting over from square one, which is frustrating because we’ve been saying the same things, making the same recommendations for the better part of a decade. It’s all about teamwork. It doesn’t make sense for a creative agency to have a brainstorm after the media plan has been purchased. What happens when we devise a killer cooperative roadblock execution, but the IO’s are already signed and there are no placements on the plan that fit the bill? Either a mad dash to try and secure a placement at the last minute, resulting in a stressful rush job, or the client will opt to scrap it altogether, but “keep it in mind for the future.” And round and round we go.

In the end, this comes back to something that I just can’t wrap my head around. The vast majority of planning, time and money spent on media are still focused on print. Most clients spend weeks and weeks waiting for a piece of artwork that a digital agency will then have a fraction of the time to translate for online. This is extremely frustrating; especially when you consider that print is floundering while digital is flourishing. For example, the New York Times newspaper is down to under 1 million copies per day in circulation for the first time since the 1980’s, while their website is getting over 45 million monthly unique visitors. Shifts like these can be seen across a number of properties, yet digital media is still consistently getting the short end of the stick when it comes to planning.

It’s past time to start bringing digital into the creative fold earlier and making a splash with online media again. It has worked in the past, so we know we can be successful again. We just can’t do it alone.

Categories: Industry Ramblings, Media
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