With the arrival of digital, more collaborators than ever have become participants in the creative process. These days it’s not uncommon to have a project kickoff meeting that consists not only of the usual suspects—a creative director, art directors, copywriters and a scientific/medical director—but also those on the digital/technology side of things. That includes user interface and user experience designers, social strategists, and even data/analytics experts who can provide insight into what a brand’s audience is currently doing in the digital space. Data from these experts give us a baseline to work from when we attempt to change a behavior or perception.
At the individual level it can mean that art directors and copywriters have a host of new things to consider. The growing list of devices and screen sizes in the digital space means that teams must give extra consideration to the consistent reproduction of brand elements. I think it’s fair to say that the recent evolution of brands such as Cisco and eBay were driven in part by a desire for clear, consistent reproduction across a variety of displays, especially with smaller devices. An art director may now be involved during the digital development process to ensure that images retain their meaning and impact as they are cropped or scaled for use in responsive sites or mobile apps. Faced with shrinking screens and shrinking attention spans, copywriters find themselves having more than ever to be clear and concise. In a nutshell, the process is evolving to make big ideas work in small spaces.
New Opportunities and Limitations
A great advantage to online work is having a huge mobile-connected audience. We now have the potential to get creative in front of more people, in more places, more often. Smartphone penetration, which is growing every day, now has well over one billion users worldwide, including 44%1 of U.S. cell users. In addition, our ability to see almost real-time analytics that allow us to refine and better target our creative output opens up a new world of more personalized marketing.
Of course, with that huge mobile audience comes limitations such as bandwidth, screen size and processing power. So, even though the mobile audience is growing by leaps and bounds, care has to be taken to also bring your creative to the masses who may not have the latest iPhone and a 4G LTE connection. Mobile web and app users have the same short attention span that desktop users have. Creative really needs to make an impact quickly.
For instance, Volkswagen’s recent Golf 7 global launch (image below) showed a fantastic use of the whole digital spectrum. The launch was as clean and as elegant as the vehicles themselves—from the extremely well done 3D projection mapping event at the New York International Auto Show to emails, brand sites, viral video, promotion on enthusiast sites and social networks. The icing on the cake? The display of an enormous interactive, multi-screen outdoor installation at a train station in Berlin.
Pushing Online Boundaries
Marketers should continue to take chances with big, bold ideas that venture out of a team’s comfort zone. The development team and the design team should meet on a regular basis to share what is trending and what is not. During meetings there may just be one of those “I didn’t know we could do that!” moments. Get to know the strengths and weaknesses of the dominant mobile platforms, because that’s where the action is in the immediate future.
1. Google Mobile Planet Stats