So who needs an in-house new-media department? Expensive, unprofitable,
staffed by acronym-spouting geeks who wouldn’t know how to communicate
with their own mothers, never mind deliver crucial commercial messages
to the all-important youth market. For God’s sake, keep them out of
client meetings and, if at all possible, out of sight of the rest of the
It’s a point of view. However, there are more sober arguments against
the use of in-house talent to develop new-media solutions. New media is
different from traditional advertising. It is not just about creating
an ad and disseminating it. It is not a single act at all, but a
Websites need daily attention if they are to remain topical and
interesting. Interactivity requires a dialogue. Information must be
current and design must be constantly revised to take advantage of ever
changing technologies and to keep ahead of rivals.
Messages from the advertiser must be consistent with the branding, so
it’s no good putting a spotty graduate with a computing degree on the
job. It needs a senior advertising staffer.
All these factors militate against agencies, who seem either unable or
unwilling to make this commitment.
But, above all, what makes it hard for agencies to adapt is that, as
yet, the traditional ‘parasitic’ model of advertising doesn’t apply to
new media. Simply creating commercial sites to back up the above-the
line advertising efforts of existing clients isn’t going to achieve much
for the client or make the agency money.
Agencies - with clients or on their own - must seize the chance to
create content to drive new media forward. They must allow new-media
departments to seek business separately from the main agency.
They must also recognise that the Internet is a blueprint for the future
of what we now think of as ‘mass’ media, such as TV.
But if they continue to be reactive, to muzzle new media and view it
simply as an added-value service, they will be overtaken, perhaps
irretrievably, by competitors who understand better the changing
landscape of communications.