Can ad agencies create good web sites?

Digital Marketing
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Brand management has been the fiefdom of advertising agencies and as the internet enters into the main stream of media, most companies are including it in the media planning exercise. Advertising agencies have been effective in creating best selling campaigns for their customers in the traditional media of print and TV and are now moving into creating a mark on the internet as well.

Purists believe that advertising agencies will have a tough time breaking into the mould of a web designer and it will be some time before they can create web sites which are on the cutting edge of technology. When the ability of an industry comes under the scanner, it is natural that there will be many schools of thought. Some of these thoughts are published in this article but do keep in mind, that the writer of this article does not have anything against advertising agencies!

Many advertising agencies began setting up their digital divisions a few years ago. DDB set up Tribal DDB, Ogilvy & Mather set up Ogilvy & Mather Interactive and so on. Customers welcomed this new division, but technocrats considered this a step akin to setting up an outdoor adverting division within an advertising company. The main bone of contention was the fact that it was difficult to match the temperament of an agency designer with that of a web designer.

Most traditional web designers felt that agency designers worked with a different canvas and could rarely understand the how web sites work. This is one of the major inflection points with advertising agencies and web designers. The agency designer on the other hand may look down on the fact that the web designer has no clue about branding and creating an online brand and is usually obsessing about technology. It is difficult to prove either one wrong, at the end of the day; it is the project which has to face the music.

Some advertising agencies have been able to cross the digital divide not by setting up another division but by cross pollination of ideas. A web designer has been taken through the steps of branding whereas a brand manager might have had to undergo a crash course on the nuances of web site design. This has helped both groups perform well together and subsequently resulted in advertising agencies churning out some excellent web sites.

So how important it is for web site designers to understand the objective of branding and brand management when designing a web site for a brick and mortar company? Advertising professionals feel that this is very important as average users are not very concerned about the technology used on the web site and are more concerned about how the web site delivers the content. Creating a strong brand and using the internet as a cost effective channel to promote a service or a product is more critical for users than fussing over the latest technology.

The final outcome of this issue is that technology if employed correctly can provide some excellent branding opportunities for companies. An example which holds true is the advent of Flash and how it has changed deliver of audio visual content on the internet. Flash has made it possible to deliver some of the most interesting web sites for the world’s leading brands such as Coco Cola, RBK and Adidas. So which side are you on?

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