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Recoding Advertising

Today, it is hard to miss an article on how advertising is not in tune with the times—that we still think of TV first in a digital world. While there is a lot of grief on the state of the business, advertising is a beautiful profession that is changing for the better. In today’s connected economy, every industry is being pushed to reinvent or else. Advertising is not the exception. So if we need to rewrite the ad code, what would be the new model?
I believe the problem lies in the fact that we “the adland,” with a few exceptions, keep copying ourselves. We continue to produce better clones rather than pivot in new directions. Perhaps we just want to have our cake and eat it. We don’t want to cannibalize our products. 
To innovate, we need to look outside the industry: The tech startups, the film or music producers… and follow some of their principles: They focus on creating products or services, not ad units. Done is better than perfection. And they collaborative even with their competitors.
Focus on creating ad products or services, not ad units. This is an interesting thought from Cindy Gallop that I feel is very true. Today’s advertising seems like the tax that people have to pay to get what they want. For example, if you wish to access a video on Youtube, you are going to be taxed with an annoying message – your video will start 30 sec after the advertising. The reality is that people are not only in control but also they are the content producers. Therefore, they don’t need to pay this tax anymore. 
To survive, advertising needs to earn attention through value. We need to create products or services that are going to solve a problem or make life better. For instance, the agency’s talent incubator of 72 AND SUNNY, called 72U, produced an award-winning documentary about Lolita fashion, a movement that began in Tokyo and has found a following in Los Angeles.

Done is better than perfect. Today’s businesses don’t have the luxury to spend months or a year developing the perfect campaign or products. The reality is that most products fail. In the startup world, making assumptions about their hypothesis without ever testing is crazy. Most startups iterate or pivot until the find the market fit. Their mantra is “Do it. Try it. Fix it.” This is not different from developing content in advertising. Today’s business doesn’t expect to get it right the first time, but it does expect to have something to test in a couple of months.
Competitive collaborationSilicon Valley high-tech firms and their people can be ruthless competitors, but they also have pervasive attitudes of cooperation. They know how critical it is to have a network within and outside the company. They go outside to solve the problem on the inside. The advertising industry is a different animal. Since everyone claims to do the same and the relationship is uncertain, the ad industry tends not to incentivize collaboration. 
A good example of collaboration is Google + "Front Row." Working with agency adam&eveDDB, Google+ U.K offered the club's Manchester United fans the chance to root for their team live at a game through a Google+ Hangout. Their messages of support appeared on Old Trafford Stadium's digital screens while the fans joined the 75,000 real world ticket holders as they watched from a digital "Front Row."

Falling in love with your product is the biggest reason for it to fail. Perhaps we, “the adland,” have fallen in love too much with ads units. To change, we need to be willing to recode advertising by cannibalizing our products.


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