Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A Certain Ratio

Reading a great presentation by Griffin Farley yesterday, there was a little line that talked about the importance of Production values in the digital age. It strikes me as amazing that I haven't seen more written about this, and thought it was worth adding my comments to:

Production VS. Media (Draft 1!!)

Traditionally advertising weight has always been largely about media spend. A simple equation usually worked, the more people see your ad the more likely they are to remember the product and buy it/respond.

More spend = more exposure.

Except now, the power of sharing means production values are infinitely more important than ever before. Not necessarily that bigger means better, but the production has to fit in with the idea. Where there isn't budget, production should look unique or be stylised to create maximum effect, just like old cartoons used angles and styles to get round the lack of money for drawing and animating.

E.g.: Old Spice's Online Responses were low budget individually compared to the ads, but were right for the idea; whereas the actual ads were bigger budget to suit the ideas.

The production quality and relevance now plays a HUGE part in whether something gets shared or not... to the extent where the priority between media and production budget should really be shifting; where production and creative quality actually change the media schedule.

Think about it. If you spent £50k to make an ad cheaply in 1999, and ran it on a media budget of £500k; you got £500k of media. If you spent £50k to make an ad cheaply now, and £500k on media, you might get £500k of media plus a couple of £100k of online sharing media value. But if you made that ad with a £150k budget, great director and soundtrack, you still get your £400k media exposure, but are far more likely to get thousands or even millions of pounds of media value through online sharing and conversation.

Look at W+K with Honda, they made big budget ads but reduced media spend; end result was huge online viewing, sharing and publicity.

It won't work for everyone, online can be notoriously fickle. But in principle it seems to make sense to me.

I think this problem has been one of the main issues for some clients and agencies in adapting to the online world, often described as being a change from broadcast to interactive funnelling or any one of twenty different models; if you have always worked in an industry where spend + creative were key, and production was just part of getting the creative across...

Something like this:

Media Size Squared + Creative Quality + Production Quality = Resonance*
*Cultural impact, how much it is remembered, talked about, etc

(Huge Spend + Crap Ad + No Budget = Bludgeoned to submission ::: E.g.: Allied Carpet Sale!)

(Low Spend + Great Ad + Great Budget = Known only to D+AD Judges ::: E.g.: Lego Kipper)

... Then it's no wonder you have trouble adapting to the newer ways of doing things. People always talk about how sharing and creative has changed, but less so about media, and very rarely about production values. What we have now is I think closer to this:

Creative Quality + Production Quality = Initial Resonance

Initial resonance x Sharing + Paid Media Size = Total Media Size / Total Resonance

I may try and simplify those, but at the moment it's what I have!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject...


Tej said...

Fantastic thought process, Rob!! Must commend you on your way of thinking and how its soo bang-on!! Totally agree with your views and surprised how come it hasnt been discussed much or atleast written about.

Tej said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James said...

Thanks for the post, Rob.

I think the macro trend that you're describing is the the traditional 80 / 20 assumption is flipping from 80% media / 20% creative to 20% media / 80% creative.

And creative is a lot more different kinds of things, not just :30 spots but apps, utilities, events.

I've been writing a series on just this topic that I call the 80 / 20 flip. Here's the intro:


Glad to see more momentum building around the idea!