Why it is time to bring your advertising production into the 21st Century

Advertising Production

Like all areas of business, advertising production has been impacted by technology and particularly digital technology, which has had a huge impact on broadcast production and print production and obviously created the discipline of digital production.

But looking back over the past 15 years (and even the last 9 years of this blog) it is clear that while the advertising industry embraces some technology advances (such as the digital pre-press process), they can be incredibly slow embracing those that deliver efficiencies to the advertiser (such as giving up film for digital broadcast).

There are three aspects of the current advertising production process that are anachronistic in the digital technology age:

  1. The concept that you can have any two of quality, cost or time.
  2. The production process exists in linear silos of production management.
  3. The outputs of the production process are consumables to be used and discarded.

The concept that you can have any two of quality, cost or time

“The shortest time, the lowest cost and the highest quality, choose two” was one of the first concepts I was introduced to thirty years ago when I joined my first advertising agency. It was held as a truism by the agency that to be good it needed time or money, but preferably both. To have the shortest production time you needed money or were willing to compromise on quality. Or to reduce cost you needed to invest more time to maintain the quality.

The first issue here is that quality is the most subjective, against two very defined parameters being cost and time. Quality expectations of the advertiser and the agency (and even within the agency between account management and creative) are often misaligned. Often the investment of time and money is disproportional with the quality required. So as the expectation of quality can often be a variable and misaligned the first step is to define quality in terms of the level of investment in the other two.

So let’s look at time and cost.

In the “always on” world, marketers are needing to find ways to be faster and more nimble in their ability to respond to their customers. This is not simply reacting, but responding strategically to the needs of the customer in managing the customer experience. Therefore, the application of technology in the production process should be to make the process more flexible and faster in delivering content to the customer at the time they are receptive and in the form they most want it.

As for cost, there are two benefits of technology. The first being innovation to do what could not be done before in delivering innovation and creativity. The second is in providing efficiencies and cost effectiveness. While many agencies (and especially their creative department) focus on the first, it is actually the second that is having the greatest impact on delivering cost reductions in the process.

The production process exists in linear silos of production management

Interestingly, agencies all maintain that digital is now everything, yet their production functions within their organisations are still largely organised by distinctly separate channels for broadcast, print and digital.

It can be argued that this delineation in the production process may offer streamlining efficiency, but it works against the opportunity to achieve production efficiencies across the various channels. This traditional approach becomes riddled with duplications and waste as each production stream undertakes full control of their process, with little collaboration or co-ordination between. Just look at how agencies struggle with talent fees if more than one channel is required.

Yet agencies continue with the same approach to production management that has been used for more than half a century as the costs of this duplication and waste is simply picked up by the advertiser.

The outputs of the production process are consumables to be used and discarded

One of the things that drives me crazy, not just as a Copywriter and Creative Director, but in our work at TrinityP3, is the consumable waste in the advertising production process. Television commercials, print advertising and the like is created at great expense, then used and finally discarded to the realm of the Guard Books (Does anyone remember those?) or the History Reel or hopefully the Award Book.

With the rise of digital, the opportunity presented to advertisers has always been to create a technology platform to engage with consumers on the customer journey. But instead many advertisers and their agencies treat digital as another communications channel – creating, using and disposing of the content as they do for the more traditional media channels. In a number of cases we have found advertisers with hundreds of websites and micro-sites, when in fact they have only a small number of brands.

Instead of using and consuming and discarding production content, smart marketers are reusing, recycling and repurposing the outputs of their production schedule to maximise the value of the investment. This requires taking a broader view of production, similar in approach to technology companies, as opposed to the more tactical, short term view currently exhibited by most advertising agencies and production companies.

But the transition to this approach requires the advertiser to drive the chance. After all there is nothing in the transition for the agency except being more aligned to their clients requirements and delivering production deliverables of the required quality at a lower cost and in less time. And why would any agency want to do that?

Video Transcript:

Technology is impacting all areas of advertising and marketing including production.

Digital, broadcast and print.

The days of the 30-second television commercial are being replaced by the need to produce interesting, entertaining and informative content.

And lots and lots and lots of it.

A bit like this video.

But that means that the way we produce this content needs to change too.

Instead of making ads, we are making digital assets.

Instead of dispatching ads, we are deploying the content across multiple networks and in multiple formats.

Instead of making an ad and then throwing it away when we are finished, we are reusing, recycling and repurposing this content again and again.

It really is getting incredibly complex.

But much of the way we are working with our agencies and suppliers has not really changed in the past 50 years.

And that is a problem.

We need to rethink, restructure and reengage in the way we manage production to make sure you are getting the best value, the shortest lead times and the minimum amount of waste.

It is not about making your needs fit the production process, as many vested interests would have you believe.

It is about engineering your production processes to fit your needs.

So how do you know if you need to update your production management system?

Talk to us.

TrinityP3 can transform your production structure and process to fit your future needs now.

Find out more about TrinityP3’s Production Management Assessment service here