Making Ad Agencies Lean

Giff Constable advertising, technology

I was intrigued by the article “Why Ad Agencies Should Act More Like Tech Startups” that was just on FastCompany. Now, before I go on, let me just state that I’ve never worked within an ad agency, but I’ve sold plenty of projects/services to them and their brand clients while with The Electric Sheep Company.

I like the general premise of the article, but think that every agency has to ask themselves a critical question: are they looking to build something ephemeral and hot, or something sustainable?

If they truly want to do products for their clients, agencies need to think about their talent pool and structure. They would need to hire some product people with real startup experience. They need to build an in-house tech team; you can’t iterate effectively with an external agency, and, no, the irony is not lost on me that I am saying this to agencies. They need to make software developers equal partners in the creative process. They should take a hard look at “lean startup” and lean-UX concepts and not brush it off with “we already talk to customers”.

Clients too will need to embrace a new process that is less waterfall in execution and more iterative. Most likely legal contracts will need to change.

The timing of this piece is excellent. Tonight at our NYC Lean Startup Ignite event, we will hear fromĀ Farrah Bostic, VP/Group Planning Director at Digitas, on how agencies could and should become more lean. The event won’t be streamed live but there will be video captured for us to share afterwards.