Results tagged “New York City” from IABlog
A Conversation with Nick Law, Global Chief Creative Officer, R/GA
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 revelatory; I saw dozens of pens busily scribbling during his short talk.
I asked Nick to stop by the IAB Ad Lab in NYC 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
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.
In a din of daily tweets, press releases and stories covering the media space, some stories deserve more attention than others. Here are 8 signs of the times that digital publishers should peruse and ponder as they head into 2014.
It’s been widely anticipated that mobile will overtake desktop traffic for most publishers in 2014. One by one you see brands like ESPN announcing that this milestone has already occurred. Publishers need to be ready for the implications of a mobile first world. New ad solutions and new business models are required. If you don’t have a strategy for mobile yet (and you should), it’s critical you get one before 1/1/14.
With this move YouTube should be poised to capture a large amount of the volume of investment spent on video advertising since they are now being seen as more friendly by marketers and their agencies. Anybody in the video advertising space knows that transacting on Nielsen OCR or comscore VCE is not an easy proposition since it can result in serving ads against impressions that don’t count towards the advertiser campaign goals. YouTube’s move is a big signal that these forms of currency are fast becoming the norm.
It’s important to ask if Yahoo thinks Couric will drive more 18-to-34-year-old news hounds to Yahoo News? Probably not. However it will make it easier for Yahoo News to earn a place in the White House press corps, secure big news gets, and help to continue to position Yahoo as more than an aggregator. Ditto with Maria Bartiromo. Her presence may not drive immediate ratings or hurt CNBC, but it will certainly attract high level exclusives and in the long run, potentially switch momentum.
The expansion of Rolling Stone content into country music is a sign that all publishers (online or off) are looking at new ways to get into businesses that are adjacent to their core business models. Every publisher should be going through the same exercise and making similar moves into adjacent businesses. As other examples of this, CNN recently launched a platform to share Instagram photos direct from the field, called Scenes, and dozens of publishers are publishing their content directly through Flipboard. These are the kinds of innovations each publisher should be seeking out.
In August Google quietly announced that it was going to transact with viewable impressions. The current proposed viewable impression definition is still only a recommendation from the Making Measurement Makes Sense consortium made up of the IAB, ANA, and 4A’s. Google’s running ahead with what they’re calling ‘active view’ as a currency that viewable impressions are something that every publisher needs to pay close attention to because it is absolutely going to become table stakes for ad campaign budgets moving forward.
When hundreds of people descended on Washington to attend the FTC’s review of native advertising it signaled not only that native advertising was big (eMarketer estimates say it’s a $2.36 Billion market) but that it’s something the industry needs to get its act together on and self-regulate. Publishers should go out of their way to make sure readers are not confused on the difference between editorial content and advertising content. Proper labeling is the key. If publishers label paid content as coming from an advertiser, there should be no more confusion. If they do that, there should be no more FTC hearings. The IAB recently released their native advertising guidelines which is a first positive step to tackling this problem/opportunity.
Early in December in New York City a first of its kind summit around the visual web occurred. The “Visual web” feels like it’s the new new thing. One only needs to look at the rise of Pinterest, Instagram, BuzzFeed, Tumblr and others to know that a picture is worth more than 1000 words. Publishers are actively redesigning for feed and gallery formats. Native advertising can be simplified with and an embrace of images over text is a way to communicate this. The emergence of the visual web is a big deal.
While CES is only a few weeks away it’s safe to assume that the Internet of things is going to receive a tidal wave of attention coming out of this massive gathering in sunny Las Vegas. It’s hard to predict what digital publishers will do in this new ecosystem but it’s safe to assume that marketers will be looking for ways to bring their products and services into the home and workplace and non-conventional, non-media driven ways.
A Reason To Party
On Tuesday night, July 25, 2013, IAB was proud to host a celebration in recognition of the first class of Certification holders and all those who helped create and support IAB Digital Media Sales Certification.
Here’s what we have accomplished in just one year:
- More than 1,200 have registered
for the program
- Companies like AOL, Collective and
IDG have committed to certifying their entire sales teams
- A number of companies (24/7 Media,
Trial Retail Media and About.com) have made Certification part of their hiring
and training processes
- Certification holders and their
managers have given us tremendous positive feedback about the reception of the
program from the marketplace
- Every day sales professionals from leading companies across the country are signing up to take the exam
During the event, exclusive guests networked at Lavo in New York City. Many Certification holders and sales executives shared their experiences about how colleagues and clients have responded to Certification.
Matthew White, National Digital Director at Time Inc.’s My Recipes was on the committee that helped create the exam and is now a Certification holder. “This is a great training tool for companies. It opens up your perspective to parts of the industry outside of your own experience. This makes for a better understanding of your competition, the products they may be selling and how.”
Why Sales Certification?
Randall Rothenberg, IAB President and CEO, told the crowd, that the Certification program came from his earliest meetings with IAB member companies, seven years ago. “The thing that came up over and over again from companies big and small was, ‘We need training!’ We learned after years of work, that the best way to scale training in a new industry was not to create the course work yourself. It is to codify industry knowledge within your network, turn it into a standardized test, and get others to teach that test around the world.”
Randall went on to say, “The program has exceeded our wildest expectations. With big companies signing on and making it a requirement it’s taking on a life of its own.”
One of the most frequent questions we heard in the beginning
was, “Why do sales people even need
certification?” We created the program because
digital advertising buyers and sellers needed a benchmark to ensure that sales
people had the basic knowledge required to sell new media programs. The ecosystem changes so quickly, clients now
have a deeper level of trust that the people they talk to understand the
industry and comprehend their needs. No
one’s asking “why” any longer.
“With 1,000 people expected to pass the test by the end of 2012, we are in a position to make the industry stronger.” said Scott Schiller, EVP of Advertising Sales at NBC Universal and Chairman of IAB Digital Media Sales Certification Commission. “A few years ago one of the biggest complaints about the industry was the lack of perceived professionalism that digital sellers had compared to traditional media experts. (With Certification) the industry has come a long way, and the IAB is credited to helping with that. I encourage all of you who have not taken the test to encourage your company to participate.”
Marta Martinez, AOL’s Head of Sales Strategy & Operations, addressed the room on the company’s commitment to customer service, innovation and knowledge as well as “raising the bar on the internet,” helping clients fully leverage the medium as a marketing channel. “At AOL there is a lot of effort in bringing balance between the premium advertising and programmatic sides of the house. This is the reason why we requested that all of the front facing-sales people in the U.S. will be certified this year. When we announced the program internally there was huge demand. We are already seeing a lot of value from the program. We are all starting to speak the same language and we are no longer in the business of translation with our clients.”
July 10, 2013 - IAB Certification Day
In two weeks, on July 10, 2013, will officially be declared IAB Certification Day. It’s a day for certificants and friends of the program to demonstrate their support and pride for the credentials, by posting their badge online via social media. We ask everyone to use the hash tag #iabcertday, so that IAB can showcase everyone who participates. For information about how to participate or to follow the conversation on Certification Day go to: iab.net/certday
In just one year digital ad buyers, human resources professionals and sales executives have embraced the credential, integrating it into their business practice. By no means are we done defining and refining the program, but the milestones of 2012-2013 are sure indicators that Digital Media Sales Certification is here to stay.
“The industry needs to continue to embrace quality in sales and product to gain better trust with clients.” said Certification holder and SVP of Sales at pulsepoint, John Ruvolo. “Certification is a great step in the right direction to set a benchmark of trust for the industry.”
About the Author