Results tagged “Display advertising” from IABlog

A Conversation with Nick Law, Global Chief Creative Officer, R/GA, and IAB MIXX Awards Judge

This past May at the What Works & Why in Digital Advertising: Insights from the IAB MIXX Awards event, Nick Law described his thinking on the alchemy needed in today’s digital world to achieve creative success. Although he took just five minutes to lay out his thesis, it crystallized for me the answer to a question I had been furiously pondering over the past four years: what is the right creative model to achieve the level of brilliance in the digital world that marketers have come to expect of the best agencies in the analog one?  I wasn’t the only one who found his thinking revelatoryNL2.jpg; I saw dozens of pens busily scribbling during his short talk. 

While Nick was at the IAB Ad Lab in New York to judge the 2014 IAB MIXX Awards, I asked him for a chat about this notion so we could share his thoughts with the industry. Our conversation is captured below and in the accompanying video.

Peter Minnium (PM), IAB: R/GA has a unique model of deploying talent in teams to get the best results; can you tell us the genesis of this thinking?

Nick Law (NL), R/GA: About a decade ago, I looked at the creative skill sets that we had at what was then a very different R/GA, and it occurred to me that if you were to be brutal in your division of skill sets, you would cleave the world into storytelling and systematic thinking. The important point about this realization, as much as understanding that these two ways of thinking exist, was to recognize that  are both creative ways of thinking. So if you’re from Madison Avenue, over the last 50 years, what has been considered creative is storytelling, because the mediums that we’ve used are narrative mediums. And since the advent of digital, this type of architectural and spatial way of thinking has become very important. In the advertising world, I think the problem is that this hasn’t been considered creative. It’s been relegated to a sort of an executional or technical path.

So when people talk about the “big idea” in advertising, they still really refer to the ability to tell a story and to distill a brand down to a little narrative. And when they think about this sort of interactive, they think about it from a technical point of view. So then, having come up with the big idea, they wonder how to push that down into this new set of formats and channels. But what I realized was that the sort of creativity associated with systematic thinking was very powerful and very different. 


PM:
Why is the distinction between the different skills sets important?

NL: This is an important thing to recognize, because if you don’t recognize the difference between storytelling and systematic thinking as sort of categorically different ways of thinking, then creators—because they’re all vain and because there’s this sort of hubris associated with creative people—will say that because they’re creative, they should be doing it all, right? So I would have an instance where someone who grew up designing interfaces and was a systematic thinker couldn’t wait to get over to the content studio and do a film, even though for 10 years, that wasn’t the way they thought. And vice-versa. I think that early on in this sort of emergent digital world, there were many creative executions that came from an art director/copywriter type of narrative team, which in a systematic world, failed dismally, right? I won’t mention any big platforms, but there’s quite a few. And a lot of money was wasted. 

PM: Are people born Systemic or Narrative Thinkers?

NL: So if you look at a human brain—and I sort of found out later that we don’t know a lot about neuroscience—we do know that the left-hand brain processes things sequentially and that the right-hand brain processes things simultaneously. So it’s this play between time and space, between the temporal way of thinking and the spatial way of thinking. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you’ve been doing something and you’ve gotten good at something from a creative point of view, the paths in your brain are in a very specific place. So for me, that explains why it’s very difficult for a narrative thinker to connect and design a systematic piece of work, and vice versa because they’re in a habit. 

PM: Bill Bernbach revolutionized creative teams in the 1960’s by pairing art directors and copywriters. Is the model different now?

NL: So at R/GA at least, we think that the atomic team is not an art director and a copywriter, but rather a storyteller and a systematic thinker. Another way of looking at this is as a tension. Storytelling is the act of simplifying, because it’s about the revealed moment and good storytelling, good brand storytelling, is really about that distilled moment and how it’s revealed. And there’s this tension between that simplicity and the possibility provided by systematic thinking. So systematic thinkers are good, very good at possibility because they understand how each node plays with each other and can look at all these relationships simultaneously and generate many ideas. 

So when you have a systematic thinker and a narrative thinker, you get this lovely tension between simplicity and possibility. When that is absent, when all you have is simplicity, you just have simple brand storytellers, really just a lucid brand but without innovation. And when you just have systematic thinkers’ input of possibility, then you get really interesting and multiple tactics that don’t ladder up to a simple brand idea. So that’s how I can tell whether or not we have the balance right—whether things are simple but not innovative, or innovative but not lucid. That balance becomes very important, that interplay. This doesn’t mean that underneath that organizing principle, we don’t have all sorts of different combinations: art directors, copywriters, data scientists, and strategists, and all sorts of other combinations, but that’s the sort of balance we’re trying to achieve, between storytelling and systematic thinking.

PM: Thanks, Nick; I now better understand the magic behind the award winning work at R/GA.

To learn more about creativity in digital advertising download the IAB MIXX Awards 2013 Insights Report: What Works & Why, which showcases examples of award winning digital advertising campaigns and the genius behind the creative work from thought leaders across the industry.

About the Author
peter-minnium-headshot.jpgPeter Minnium 

As the Head of Brand Initiatives at IAB, Peter Minnium leads a series of initiatives designed to address the under-representation of creative brand advertising online. He can be reached on Twitter @PeterMinnium.

The just-completed IAB MIXX Conference & Expo 2013 themed “Advertising is__________?,” explored the changing definition of advertising, with the two days focused on showcasing competing points of view, highlighting their differences, and looking for points of commonality. As part of this debate, the IAB convened a discussion on “Native Advertising: Fact and Fiction,” with the similar goal of creating a framework for understanding this hot new concept.

This session complements the work of the IAB Native Advertising Task Force, a group of companies 80+ members strong who are working to establish a framework for the native advertising space by putting forth a prospectus that clearly lays out today’s “native” landscape. This prospectus, targeted to advertisers, publishers, and ad tech providers, will provide a focused, guiding light to the industry while being broad enough that it can expand over time. In addition, it will provide a basis for further IAB initiatives in this space.

While the Task Force plans to publish their work in the fourth quarter, the IAB MIXX session attendees were given a sneak peak and chance to comment on the Task Force’s early findings. A panel of industry stakeholders led the feedback: Task Force Co-chair Patrick Albano, Vice President, Sales, Yahoo!; Steve Kondonijakos, Sr. Marketing Director, Federated Media; Stacy Minero, Leader, Content Marketing, Mindshare; Steve Rubel, Chief Content Strategist, Edelman; and Geoff Schiller, Chief Sales Officer, Hearst Digital.

The session kicked off with a discussion of the duality of “native advertising,” with the concept encompassing both an aspiration as well as a suite of ad products.  On the one hand, we all aspire to deliver “paid ads that are so cohesive with the page content, assimilated with the design, and consistent with the platform behavior that the viewer simply feels that they belong.”  On the other, tactically, advertisers must use ad products to achieve this, and the IAB Native Task Force has identified six categories commonly used today in pursuit of this goal:

1. Search Units, e.g. 
search-units-native-ads_v2.png
2. Promoted Listings, e.g.:
promoted-listings-native-ads_v3.png
3. Recommended Content Units, e.g.:
recommended-content-units-native-ads.png
4. In-Feed Ads, e.g.:
in-feed-ads-native-ads.png
5. In-Ad (IAB Standard) Units, e.g.:
in-ad-iab-standard-units.png
6. Custom, e.g.:
custom-native-ads.png
The group discussed at length the core dimensions of ads that feel native, including form, the extent to which the ad fits with the overall page design; function, how well the ad matches the editorial feel of the content in which it is nested; and technology, the degree to which the viewer can treat the ad like they can any other content on the site.  Amid a spirited debate, consensus is emerging that you can achieve a native experience through three, two, or even one of these, depending on the site, brand message, and audience mix. 

There was a great deal of enthusiasm in the room about the unique benefits that the advent of “native” has brought to display advertising. First and foremost, display advertising has been freed from the “ad ghetto” of the right rail and leaderboard to which it has long been confined and now has license to settle anywhere on the page. The horse is now out of the barn, and advertising will not be forced back into solely those positions. A corollary benefit of this move is getting advertising into the user’s natural activity stream—where print and TV advertising have always been. Allowing the viewer to interact further without leaving the site is much preferred to clicking through to a new website.  Finally, “native” is decidedly and overwhelmingly a form of brand advertising, a category that display has long fought with marginal success to conquer.

The lively conversation provided useful feedback to the IAB Native Task Force. Audience members encouraged the IAB to find the right balance between standardization and customization—giving enough firm guidance to help make the market, but not too much to stifle it—while best practices around disclosure were also highlighted as a need. 

Have we answered the question, “Native Advertising is__________?” The IAB Native Task Force and feedback for the IAB MIXX session clearly show that there is real agreement around what it is not: a single, uni-dimensional ad product. Rather, it is an end goal—an aspiration—that folks seek to attain via a number of paid advertising tactics. The IAB Native Task Force will absorb the advice and carry forward the enthusiasm of the IAB MIXX session as it works to publish the IAB Native Prospectus that details these principles in the fourth quarter.

About the Author
peter-minnium-headshot.jpg
 Peter Minnium


As the Head of Brand Initiatives at IAB, Peter Minnium leads a series of initiatives designed to address the under-representation of creative brand advertising online. He can be reached on Twitter @PeterMinnium.

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If you believe digital display advertising is dead, you’ve misunderstood the Internet. It is in fact, alive and well. It has evolved and consistently grown over time. 

Here are 10 facts about banner advertising that may surprise you:

1. Display/Banner ad revenues grew to $3.6 billion in HY 2012, up 11% from HY 2011. (IAB/PwC)

2. 80% of brand marketers increased their display ad budgets or kept at same level in 2012. (Digiday/Vizu)

3. Banner ad spending will rise from $8.68 billion in 2012 to $11.29 billion in 2016. (eMarketer)

4. Banner ads are 1.5x more effective in raising product awareness to consumers than direct mail. (Nielsen)

5. Nearly 6 trillion display ad impressions were delivered across the web in 2012. (comScore)

6. 75% of users remember the brand after viewing an online banner ad. (Dynamic Logic MarketNorms database /Millward Brown Digital)

7. Clicks don’t matter anymore. Online advertisers are embracing a viewable impressions standard that helps brands make sure their ads are seen by publishers. (Making Measurement Make Sense).

8. The new IAB Standard Ad Portfolio is 70% new. The 468x60 display banner and 10 other units have actually been retired since 2011. (IAB)

9. The new display ad units are effective. Users are 2.5x more likely to interact with a Rising Stars display ad unit than a legacy IAB ad unit and spend 2x as much time interacting with the ad. (IAB / IPG MediaLab/Moat)

10. The Rising Stars display formats have already been adopted on 5 continents and in more than 35 countries. (IAB)

The digital world is changing, led by IAB — in innovative brand and measurement units fit for the ecosystem we now live in: a new, cross screen, interactive display reality.

About the Author

peterminnium-headshot.jpg




 Peter Minnium

 As the Head of Brand Initiatives at IAB, Peter Minnium leads a series of initiatives designed to address the under-representation of creative brand advertising online. He can be reached on Twitter @PeterMinnium.