Agencies add techs to the conversation

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Andy Hood is the executive creative development director at AKQA
Andy Hood is the executive creative development director at AKQA

The proliferation of social media sites, new communication channels and demand for better customer data has changed the way marketers approach and interact with consumers. Consequently, it has also changed their staffing requirements. Whereas creative teams have traditionally included an art director and copywriter, today's agencies are adding technologists to the mix.

“Advertising used to be two dimensional, composed of image and message with success based on persuasion … however in recent times, a third dimension has been added to the mix, that of technology, with success now based on adding value,” said Andy Hood, AKQA's executive creative development director. “Finding three-dimensional solutions requires three-dimensional thinking.

“Unless someone with a broad technology understanding is included as a full part of the creative team, then opportunities will be lost, either through a lack of understanding of the innovation opportunities that technology now provides, or even through a misguided belief that beautiful execution on its own is somehow still enough.”

Hood himself came from a technology background, having written code in the mid-80s for systems that track credit card transactions. He said it was his brother, a graphic designer, who saw the potential of combining Hood's technical skills with graphic design.

While other agencies are beginning to see the benefits of adding a technologist or a strategic planner to their creative teams, Hood said he found AKQA's creative technology and research development team in 1999.

Heineken's Star Player, an interactive online game created by AKQA for the Dutch beer brand in 2011, delivered 90 minutes of brand engagement for every game and earned Heineken a Cannes Gold Lion.

Scott Lange, Team Detroit's EVP and executive digital creative director, said in the past five to 10 years, marketers have realized that digital is more about participation. While the online audiences may still be the same as the TV audiences, they are in a different state of mind, he said. For that reason, an agency's creative team needs to understand how the strengths of the new media can enhance the overall campaign.

“I need people who understand it's not just about eyeballs, but about engagement. It's not good enough to execute a cool idea. I need my team to understand how the idea is being measured for success so we can design to those measurements,” he said.

Steve Penn, creative director, writer and producer for PENN, said: “Without a technologist, you're an island in today's marketing landscape.”

With an evolving landscape, it's critical to know the technological capabilities that will allow you to connect with people in meaningful ways, he said.

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