The agency cutting room floor is littered with amazing ideas which may have been off-brief, poorly sold or which didn’t make it through testing. Are they dead forever? Zombie ideas just waiting for the right brief to be matched to? Or are they a significant source of revenue for the innovative agency willing to take a risk?
I guess they’re all three, depending on where you work. I really enjoyed, and was challenged by this presentation on “Fringe Planning” from BBH’s Griffin Farley.
I think it’s interesting that agencies are investing in start-ups, becoming more in-tune with the technology community and starting to think outside of the media driven solutions box and into the fixing the problem at a product level. I read this Business Week article after clicking (ironically enough) on a tweet that went something along the lines of “the greatest minds of our generation are trying to work out how to make people click on advertising” – perhaps this is a way out of the “direct response” side of internet marketing.
via The Curious Brain.
Some agencies are opening units aimed at selling products to consumers. Others are acting like venture capital firms, offering seed money to start-ups in fields like technology. Still other agencies are taking stakes in client companies and sharing in the revenue of merchandise sales.
The trend has been going on for some time, led by smaller, newer agencies along with some agencies based in London, where unconventional behavior has long been prized. Now it is expanding to larger, more established outfits like Horizon Media, the biggest independent media agency.
One other thing that I think we will see more of is agencies building products to serve specific client needs but who can then turn around and monetise it either to other clients with similar needs, traditionally products like SaaS/CMS, or in a new twist, directly to consumers. In an age where web services are built on top of other web services, using curation as a key device, this will become easier and more tempting for agencies.
UPDATE: Interesting interview with KBS+P’s Darren Hegman – KBS+P was one of the first “agencies as VC”.