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Taken to TASC: improving ad agency/tech startup communication

Four high fly­ing exec­u­tives from top online adver­tis­ing agen­cies have launched a new ini­tia­tive which promis­es big improve­ments to the often fraught rela­tion­ships between ad agen­cies and tech startups.

The Tech­nol­o­gy, Adver­tis­ing and Start­up Coun­cil or TASC is the brain­child of three New York-based dig­i­tal ad exec­u­tives plus anoth­er based in San Fran­cis­co. At its core is the mis­sion to improve com­mu­ni­ca­tion between ad agen­cies and tech star­tups and align busi­ness objec­tives more clear­ly. As such, it looks set to ease the bur­den of the job­bing art direc­tor and valiant copy­writer as they strug­gle to cre­ate bespoke campaigns.

While it’s clear that the ad agency/tech start­up con­nec­tion is often a fruit­ful one (just think of suc­cess­ful star­tups like Free­dom­Pop, Sound­Hound or Layar, all of which fused tech­no­log­i­cal genius with ad agency panache), it’s no secret that rela­tions between the two aren’t always so good. Even so, there’s no dis­put­ing the fact that ad agen­cies gen­uine­ly want their tech start­up clients to flour­ish. The tech­nolo­gies can, in turn, gen­er­ate val­ue for con­sumers and mar­keters alike, mak­ing good feed­back between ad firms and tech firms ines­timably precious.

The exec­u­tive founders – David Berkowitz (VP of Emerg­ing Media at 360i), David Her­man (founder and MD of kbs+p Ven­tures), Ian Schafer (CEO of Deep Focus) and Mark Sil­va (VP of Emerg­ing Plat­forms at Anthem World­wide) — launched TASC’s first meet­ing last month. The meet­ings are not about deals, and par­tic­i­pants are told as much before attend­ing. Instead, they bring togeth­er star­tups, ad agen­cies and ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists to give and receive key advice on prod­uct pric­ing, cam­paign struc­ture and com­mer­cial potential.

The ear­ly ver­dict is that star­tups val­ue the ser­vice con­sid­er­ably, with com­ments to TASC con­firm­ing that they rarely get feed­back as com­pre­hen­sive and detailed as they had at the meetings.

TASC founders have been around long enough to know that the chief rea­son for the cool­ness between ad agen­cies and tech star­tups is a lack of under­stand­ing. Berkowitz believes that ad agen­cies tend to pounce on mar­ket­ing the prod­ucts, where­as the star­tups often want help in trans­form­ing their market.


The new Coun­cil has big ambi­tions. It’s set its sights on that hub of start­up inno­va­tion, Sil­i­con Val­ley, where it plans to take its events in the not too dis­tant future.

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