So what are people doing? How are they doing it? Where is it all going? Here's my rundown of this year's "killer" trends:
Here's a real and sad sore point for all South Africans reading this. In some form or another, a HUGE percentage of this year's entries incorporated video. I'm not just talking about snippets of video in little square blocks. Instead, agencies are integrating video in the most interesting and creative ways. The age of broadband has arrived, and it's obvious that if you can dream it, you can create it online.
No kidding, right? If there's video then there has to be sound. Well, even most of the less "bandwidth-intensive" entries used sound in a subtle, almost transparent way to set an overall mood. Sound is an element that is often overlooked. The smallest touch here and there can however add exponential amounts of value to a project. Need some examples? Sure thing! Life is too short by BBD Brasil, and The Grudge by Big Spaceship NYC are two prime examples of concepts that wouldn't be half as effective without sound.
3. Unconventional Thinking
The walls are falling down and the technical constraints we once faced as digital agencies are fast becoming history. Anything's possible, and we can no longer impress our audience with a slick interface and some technical wizardry. We're playing in a mainstream medium now, and our advertising-savvy audience is quick to close a window and move along to the next. Nicke from FarFar hit the nail on the head by saying that it's about creating a concept that connects with the audience on an emotional level (be it fear, humor, sadness, etc.). Once you do that, the work goes beyond appearing like advertising and becomes a (brand) experience.
The lines between mediums are blurring. We're watching video online and we're browsing the internet on our cell phones and televisions. Website production teams now include high profile directors and composers. Online agencies now face competition from offline agencies as the technical barriers crumble. This is great news for the advertising industry as a whole - it's a huge wake-up call for digital agencies who are being forced to think for themselves, and a fantastic opportunity for traditional advertising agencies.
You're probably thinking, "This guy's completely lost his marbles," but listen to this. For the past decade, the internet has merely been a complimentary channel for offline campaigns. Design a great TV campaign that's supported by print and throw in a bit of DM and, oh yeah, better just create a website for consistency. Good news; the tables are turning! We're seeing advertising campaigns effectively "born" online. Brilliant concepts are brought to life on the internet and are being supported by other channels, such as TV, to drive traffic to the online campaign. Offline components supporting the online component and not the other way around!
This is fantastic news for advertisers and online agencies alike. Advertising efforts are more quantifiable online (great for advertisers), and budgets are increasing for online efforts (great for online agencies). A great example of this phenomenon is Volvo's "Life On Board" project. Check it out here.
I hope this article has been useful to some. Please don't confuse this with a "checklist" of elements to include in each and every online project; it's hardly a recipe for success.
Every great campaign starts out with an idea. Without that, it won't matter how many bells and whistles you add. For lack of a better phrase, you'll still be polishing a turd.