How can an upgraded offline ad culture work with a downgraded online one?
This is one of the most troubling aspects of advertising today. To some, there's true danger in letting a professional play with someone else's crayons. Not that an offline person can't work in online; I happen to be one of those people.
Each side of the story has its own idea where the challenges lie. Specifically, each side can easily move to its comfort zone to protect its own opinion, to make a claim about someone's work and spew vitriol about the weakness of the other with a relish worthy of a professional wrestling competition. Sometimes it's a lot worse.
First, let's take a look at both sides of the story and see if it stirs up some understanding.
The Online World
What's new in online? Video for one thing -- and all it can bring to the online experience. Some may see this a weakness in terms of presentation quality. Sure, right now online is a simple recreation of offline presentations, only smaller and fuzzier. Video isn't interactive and doesn't allow for much learning about how it affects viewers, unless you really want to use an offline measurement to justify the work's effectiveness. But that would be pointless.
What's old? Measurement. Especially when it comes to seeing how may clicks on a banner lead to a sale, ingestion of content, or interaction. Yes, it's very technical and a bit boring, unless watching paint dry is one of your favorite pastimes.
The Offline World
What's new? The Internet, of course. And digital in general. Post-production has given the worst shoots the ability to come back from the edge of failure and salvage the good.
What's old? Quality. Quality of image, quality of writing, quality of a moment captured and a chord of understanding and emotional empathy that moves audiences to joy or tears. This in itself is never old; it's the reason both sides keep burning themselves out to get to the perfect solution.
Can't We All Just Get Along?
That's a small slice of the pie, but it shows us the older medium has had time to work out some production aspect that online still struggles with.
What we're witnessing isn't a clash. It's a great blending. But the two major forces are working against each other.
First, quality. The online work can look amazing, except when it comes to video. Content quality and access drive online success most of the time.
Second, knowledge and execution-focused bandwidth. Online agencies are very busy right now. In comparison, offline agencies are too, but they have a more mature infrastructure to deal with the challenges of putting out great work in very little time. Offline agencies have a lot more people who have a lot of years of experience to base their ideas on. A depth of knowledge, if you will.
Yet the biggest problem is fear. Not of execution quality, not of having to click on things, nor of making a Web site. It's a fear of what the other side can do and of being replaced.
A lot of people from the offline world have a lot to overcome. To some extent, they're at a disadvantage; it's not easy to jump into the Internet without understanding the production limitations.
But they shouldn't worry. If they're good at their craft, they'll have jobs.
The same goes for online professionals, but a bit more patience can go a long way in understanding the depth of quality work that comes from such a rich ad industry.
In the end, off- and online professionals must stop trying to point out what's unremarkable about each other's work. Instead, they must find a true resonant chord in the work and learn from each other in the process. Moving beyond the obvious differences is the call to arms for advertising communications.
Meet Dorian at ClickZ Specifics: Online Video Advertising on July 19 in New York City.
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Dorian Sweet is the vice president and executive creative director of GSI Interactive who leads strategic development and innovation in online advertising, Web development, e-commerce, and customer relationship management programs. His work has brought award-winning online solutions to such clients as Clorox, Miller Brewing Company, GE, Visa, eBay, British Airways, Wells Fargo, Discovery Networks, Motorola, Kodak, Sears, 20th Century Fox, and others.
March 19, 2014