Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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The Need for R&D in Marketing

Over at MediaPost, Max Kalehoff writes about the need for R&D within advertising agencies, hitting on some things I’ve been thinking about lately. The entry comes out of a question Max asked at the Innovative Marketing Conference: “Why the heck are advertising and marketing agencies so often so late to invest in or experiment with new technologies and emerging media, while the marketers and clients demonstrate increasing interest and tendency to pursue them directly?”

It’s an interesting time to be in advertising/marketing. With the media world in a state of upheaval, marketing is scrambling to find new ground to stand on. That ground is increasingly new media/emerging technology. Even with that said, however, agencies are slow to adopt and invest in the latest innovations. There’s a bunch of possible reasons for this which Max highlights in the article.

All in all this fits into one of my big interests: What does marketing in the future look like? Its my feeling that marketing is going to need to deliver far more value in the future to compete in the media saturated world. Broadcast is not as viable as it once was, and that doesn’t just mean television, but also speaking at people rather than engaging them. Brands and 2.0 puts it like this, “Brands only have a role [in social media] if they can make the conversation more interesting.” (Thanks to Kareem for the link.)

This is going to require some serious rethinking within the agency world. The current structure of account and creative lends itself well to the old-fashioned ideas of advertising. However, it may be time to consider a far more interdisciplinary approach to solving the problem of how to get consumers to focus their attention on your company.

One of the responses to Max’s piece is from Ted McConnel from P&G, Ted explains:

If the role of R&D in Agencies was to enhance the skills and options in creativity then it might make more sence to agency managers as an investment. For example, whoever imagined the Subservient Chicken had a knowledge of what was possible before they got the brief, I feel sure. How did they get that? Luck, I assume. Well, if Organizations are about making your own luck in the marketplace, then maybe they should consider that systematically discovering and communicating ‘what’s possible’ within their creative departments might be a very profitable investment.

I think this is right on target. Like almost any company, the danger is that people and their ideas will get to comfortable. This is all the more dangerous when you make a living selling your ideas. It’s time for some checks and balances in the marketing world.

July 2, 2006