Savvy, creative, fast -- or however long it takes to type less than 140 characters. That's what every brand and advertiser wants: to keep up with what's hot in the trending cycle. The very nature of advertising in social calls for incredible flexibility in churning out creative content. Advertisers pre-plan tweets, respond to live events with Facebook posts, and react in real-time with other socially inclined witticisms. As far as social goes, marketers have been living and breathing this so-called agile advertising for quite some time.
But how can agile advertising benefit other advertising channels as well?
It's easy to overlook agile advertising in other digital channels, like display, for a number of reasons:
- The launch of campaigns can stretch from days to weeks due to inefficient campaign management processes within organizations and agencies.
- In the world of display advertising, conversations are not a natural paradigm, and certainly the pressure of immediacy propelled by audience engagement and direct replies isn't as strong.
- The complexity of the creative execution -- it's far easier to be agile with a Facebook post versus a Flash or HTML5 unit.
Brands, it's time to wake up and smell the agile advertising coffee. Seventy-two percent of social network users said they thought timely online ads or social media posts during big events would "probably" or "definitely" be an effective strategy, according to AYTM Market Research (March 2013). Advertisers can still jump on trends and comment on unexpected events with display advertising by launching well-timed creative and earn some brand affinity points, and also by defining and participating in conversations on a much larger platform, reaching far beyond fans and followers.
Why aren't we more agile?
The tools and technology needed to make the dream of agile advertising a reality are already here -- it's the mindset and workflows that are holding us back.
Why isn't agile advertising more the norm? The problem is process and risk aversion. There needs to be underlying change in the processes and culture of marketing organizations. The advertiser needs to commit to continuously engaging their audience with new experiences. They need to accept fast and committed brainstorming, decision-making, and approval. They must understand that for every brilliant idea that emerges, many must be allowed to fall flat.
In addition to creative production processes, the marketer has to have the right monitoring processes set up. Social marketers have this part down -- capturing timely trends, important events, and memes -- and using these to create real-time messages and experiences that build brand affinity. This kind of awareness must be applied to other channels as well.
The archetypal example of agile marketing? Oreo's "You can still dunk in the dark" social ad from last year's Super Bowl.
Make no mistake -- that coup was not a one-off lucky break. Rather, it was the result of a fully developed, mature, and agile process that ran thousands of different creative in front of their audiences. Some of them flopped, and a number resonated with certain audiences, but this one made a big splash. This brand created a culture that allowed creativity to flow in the moment -- and it paid off.
The big reward
Agile marketing isn't just about the slam dunks. Just as important, if less visible, are the many brand moments that capture a small portion of the audience's attention. The constant delivery of a few dozen well-timed creative doing a "good enough" job connecting with an audience can be just as valuable as that one newsmaking creative.
Agile advertising can and must move beyond social marketing and into other digital channels such as display, video, and mobile. The advertiser that successfully does this will be rewarded with more brand equity and a far more engaged audience. The tools are there, but advertisers must have the right processes, empowered teams, and sometimes sheer nerve to put them to use.