I couldn’t agree more and I think that this is a key point of growth for agencies.
Lately it feels as though much of the conversation around successful digital work revolves around being first on emerging platforms and how brand work can be done on those channels, which is the kind of broadcast advertising work agencies are built for.
But I think the inflection point for growth is where agencies start to say, ‘Listen, this is how your brand is seen by consumers, and we understand what direction you want to grow your business. Let’s bring to market a unique product/platform specific to your brand that joins those visions and drives that growth. So rather than be the first on this platform, lets own it outright. Instead of trying to capture part of a market, let’s build our own.”
Ironically, I think it’s the barrier to entry (i.e cost and labour) that keeps a lot of agencies out of the digital product/tool/utility business. Many aren’t staffed to create products that can handle scale and hiring out that work is cost prohibitive.
That said I think some ‘magic’ can be faked though corporate sponsorships and partnerships. For example Citigroup didn’t really create an entire network of connected bicycles, but they sponsored the program; so for all anyone really cares, Citigroup created the Citibike product and it’s brand benefits entirely from Citibike’s success.
Agencies would do well to think about how what consumers want to hear/see/feel can turn into something consumers want to use, and leverage their creativity and branding expertise to develop fully baked products that can drive growth.