It’s time to change the way advertising agency holding companies source video content. First some background:
Advertising agency holding companies ignored the web for 5-10 years, allowing a flurry of website production companies to evolve into full-service “digital agencies of record.” They finally developed small web agencies internally, and then realized they needed to acquire some of these web boutiques (and eventually integrate them). Media buyers paid little attention to paid search until they finally realized they’d need to buy small paid-search firms or the talent from within them.
Now we’re seeing ad networks creating content that’s being used for television (see Break/Sony story in Adage). That should be a wakeup call for agencies who feel threatened when ads are developed by separate vendors. After all, the “agency of record” usually knows more about the brand’s goals, and is the uniting force of the creative.
As a marketer I’m interested in a unifying campaign, but not opposed to an occasional smart deal like this (which cost Sony nothing since Break Media did it for free). In the extreme it can become chaotic to manage, however.
So the agencies roll continues to change. Instead of the strategy/planning team sourcing video production to high-priced partners (with whom they’ve developed long-standing relationships), it’s probably time to expand the network to include boutiques that have little access to brands. Or even semi-pro one-man shops. I’m doing a pilot with Poptent to explore this model now (the company sends my brief to a variety of creators and I buy the videos I like for a cost that’s a tiny fraction of what I’d pay for a full blown ad shoot). The agency’s response? “You get what you pay for.” However I think I’ll do better.
The lesson is this: we’ve got a fragmentation of the web, and no shortage of devices and target consumer segments. So we need more variations of video content, and that can’t drive our “non-working” budget up dramatically. Otherwise our “working media” suffers. I hope agencies will recognize this fact, and step up to the plate. They can forge new relationships that keep them relevant, bring costs down, and reduce the workload of brands to pursue these solo (which does take some time and effort).
Common large agencies: The time is now. Please get comfortable with lower cost production, and source beyond the $100-$500K productions that then result in bastardize prerolls that are derivative from TV shoots. Let’s try different models for online-video ads, and see if we’ll sometimes get something that isn’t just cost effective… but so fresh that it can be used more broadly.