Thursday, 11 December 2008

what's digital and why you should apply

Something I did for the folks over at AdGrads.

100 percent digital

It might be overstated (there’s probably always going to be the “‘bed, bog, bath’ element”) but Mr Billingsley’s comment is almost certainly right: we’re going to be digital advertisers because the world is now digital, and getting more so.

What does all this digital malarkey mean for people looking to get into the communications business and, before we look at that, what does digital mean anyway?

One of the lovely insights of Dare’s grad video – where the parents of Dare folk gloriously fail to define what their children do – is that pinning it down is tricky.

Part of its slipperiness is that things just keep shifting. Facebook was born in 2004, YouTube in 2005, Twitter in 2006, the App Store in 2008 etc. The only constant is change.

The other thing about ‘digital’ is that it’s polysemous – it has multiple meanings. 

It’s used to refer to electronic media (web, screens, mobiles, ipods, nike+ shoes etc) but also, and more importantly, the behaviours those media have unleashed and fed: interaction.

There’s an important difference there that Jeremy Bullmore expressed perfectly in Campaign when he said,

all about interactivity

There are two important things there for grads trying to get into the industry. The first is, “whose roof”?

Most of you will have been concentrating on the big above-the-line ones. That’s a good bet for a digital future as long as that ATL agency gets digital, which means they aren’t just talking about it, they’re doing it  (hmm, a black sheep has just popped into my head.)

On the other hand, another good bet are the agencies whose best is yet to come: the digital ones, primed as they are to thrive in the coming digital ecosystem.  

And now for the second important bit of Mr Bullmore’s quote: if you’re worried about applying to a digital agency because it’s got the word digital in it, don’t be: as he says, it’s not really about tech, it’s about interactivity.

And what's that? It's spreading the intelligence more evenly between people who make stuff and people who consume it. Sometimes it’s only a little, sometimes it’s a lot

This interactivity let’s you do a lot more than you can at your typical traditional ATL agency. Or to reunite that idea with its owner:

we are not an advertising agency

I think that's really exciting (and Mr Tait has 9 more great reasons digital is better for those interested). In digital you’re unshackled from just doing TV, print and radio to all sorts of exciting things like sitesapplicationsblogsgamesbranded contentwidgetspodcastssocial things and experimental stuff And a lot of this (not all) is actually useful to people; it's additive rather than interruptive

In my experience grads tend to think of digital as something on-the-sidey and techy. Maybe it once was. Now it ain’t. Technology is so ubiquitous, so ‘ready-to-hand’, that it’s becoming invisible and when that happens it gets socially interesting. In other words, technology and culture used to be separate, increasingly they are the same (look what you're doing now.)

It’s a brilliant time to get into an industry that’s only going to grow (even in these tough times) and that’s much more about interesting interactive ideas than it is about tech.

Go on, apply!

Obviously I am biased but this would be a good place to start...

(For those wanting more, I suggest you have a play in here, read this, canoe back up this and maybe watch this. That should be enough to be getting on with.)


Robin Grant said...

Hey Will. I'd argue (as Forrester does in its connected agency report) that old school digital and above the line agencies will all be conversation agencies in 5 years.

So I'd say it would make sense to join a coversation agency now, rather than wait for them to catch-up.


Will said...

Reminds me of something Cory Doctorow said:

Anonymous said...

mmm...i wanna work at a digital agency now. d.

Anonymous said...

Hi Will, thanx for all the cool info on digital, it gives a great insight into it all. Any chance you could give any clues or hints as to how to answer the last question on the grad form.. ;) Its a bit tricky and i really want to do well at it? Thanx

Will said...

Well, we throw all the cat answers in the bin...

Just kidding ;)

I can't say all that much because it's unfair to people who wont see this comment.

What I will say is that there's no correct answer but there is a boring answer and we want to see the opposite of that.

Sorry for such willful vagueness. Have to be fair.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi again, thanx for the reply although you have probably made it even harder for me to answer now as i was just going to do a comparison of cats and dogs but im scared that this is the 'Boring answer' now...?

I was already in two minds about whether it could be that simple or since its advertising related you must be looking for a creative 'thinking out the box' answer...but i really am stumped...?

Will said...

Don't over think it. The question's not trying to trick you. It's just trying to get an interesting answer out of you. Comparisons are fine, just make it interesting to read.


Anonymous said...

Ok ok i will give it a go!cheers for the advice, hopefully it will pay off and i can thank you in person!