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The cure for extinction by disruptive innovation: embrace it, PixInk founder urges ad agencies

Ayesha Math­ews-Wad­wha, the founder and cre­ative direc­tor of the dig­i­tal brand­ing micro-agency “PixInk”, has been shar­ing her views on the chang­ing habi­tat of online adver­tis­ing agencies.

Even cre­ative art direc­tors and copy­writ­ers har­bor an inner con­ser­v­a­tive (with a small ‘c’) which resists change; but accord­ing to Math­ews-Wad­wha, new and bet­ter ways of con­nect­ing with con­sumers and clients are becom­ing a mat­ter of survival.

Dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion is here whether we like it or not

In short, the adver­tis­ing indus­try has to con­tend with dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion, she argues. But any art direc­tor or account man­ag­er who thinks that “dis­rup­tive inno­va­tion” always boils down to new tech­nol­o­gy is mak­ing an error. Math­ews-War­wha draws on a recent blog by Igni­tion founder Tim Williams, who says that it’s “usu­al­ly a recom­bi­na­tion of exist­ing fea­tures and tech­nolo­gies served up in a dis­rup­tive way.”

The ques­tion now on the lips of that mis­in­formed art direc­tor or account man­ag­er is, “But what, or who, are these disruptors?”

Math­ews-Wad­wha holds up agency trad­ing desks and audi­ence plat­forms like Accuen, Fun­box, Media­brands and Xax­is in the media indus­try, as well as pro­duc­tion com­pa­nies that dou­ble as agen­cies, like B Reel, Rad­i­cal Media and Trail­er Park.  Media com­pa­nies like Scratch, Elec­tus and Conde Nast Stu­dio are also dou­bling up as ad agen­cies, and tra­di­tion­al mar­ket­ing providers are increas­ing­ly being dis­rupt­ed by the inter­ven­tions of tech­nol­o­gy providers like Face­book and Google, who are now act­ing as mar­ket­ing providers, too.

Going with the dis­rup­tive flow

These dis­rup­tions need to be embraced by ad agen­cies as cre­ative tran­si­tions. For exam­ple, instead of a tra­di­tion­al sales mod­el, Dig­i­tal Kitchen has been devel­op­ing great, engag­ing con­tent as the foun­da­tion for mar­ket­ing and brand­ing, the kind of thing that con­sumers are increas­ing­ly demanding.

With clients becom­ing reluc­tant to choose one agency for every­thing, the “agency of record” mod­el may be becom­ing obso­lete; “a la carte” ser­vices and open con­tracts look like the way for­ward. Suc­cess­ful agen­cies are also diver­si­fy­ing from just TV or radio into social media to stay in touch with con­sumer pref­er­ences and client needs.  They’re also avoid­ing dis­rup­tion by proac­tive­ly inno­vat­ing, embrac­ing con­sumer-cen­tric trends like con­tent mar­ket­ing, video mar­ket­ing and mobile.

Art direc­tors and account man­agers take note; the anti­dote to death by dis­rup­tion is life by innovation.

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