Sunday, August 13, 2006

There is no such thing as a free lunch....

I have been reminded over the last few weeks that one needs to be very careful of "experts" who are clearly out of their depth - these are dangerous people and they must be stopped!

I was an interested bystander to a conversation between one of my clients at their very swisho. shiny ad-agency. Both regular readers will know that one of my pet hates is the way some of these agencies are rushing to create "online teams" to respond to the changes that are happening in that industry (see various other rants on this front). As I keep saying, this stuff is complex and you cannot merely create a capacity overnight by sticking a bunch of people in a barn and adding an 'i' or an 'e' to your agency name.

In this case, the agency told our client that loading an online version of a TVC onto YouTube was a great, "free" way to kick off a viral campaign. When challenged that the perception that "YouTube was free" might not be the way things really were, the agency whiz-kid became quite agitated and suggested that we didn't really know what we were talking about. Please, my friend - defer to the Terms and Conditions and read the words carefully (they are in English and the sentences aren't too long, so you should be OK). The site is free for personal use.

In response to this, Whiz-kid rebutted that "Nike and Audi did it" and that "we do it for lots of our clients." Sorry to rattle your reality my wonderful whiz-kid friend - these companies PAID to put their ads up.

So what is the issue? The issue here is twofold - the first is that this agency representative was blindly and naively instructing his client to use a website in fairly obvious breach of the terms and conditions. He even went as far as to suggest that there could be ways to "beat the system" by "having a friend load the content" and "not including any links to the client websites." Bush lawyering at best - professional negligence at worst.

The second issue is that this guys is holding himself out to be an EXPERT and no doubt is charging accordingly, yet basic principles of business, commercial risk management and contracts appear to evade him. It is time for these fringe pretenders jumping a bit too late onto the digital services industry bandwagon to wake up to themselves. If commercial considerations don't drive you to make sure that you actually know how to do what it is that you offer your clients, then maybe respect for your clients will.

Finally - and a genuine question - do these agencies carry decent professional indemity insurance? Who is going to foot the bill when a client unwittingly follows this flawed advice, loads their content onto a site like YouTube, has it downloaded by 50,000,000 people around the world (most of whom probably aren't in their serviceable market) and then receives an invoice (or letter of demand) from the site owner for 10 cent (or even one cent) per view? THIS IS HOW THESE SITES ARE GOING TO MAKE MONEY - understand this.

At Hyro, we think about this stuff. This digital services business is not just about the creative and technical elements - it is about the business of the digital economy (and that include the contracts, deals and business of the digital world). You have to understand this stuff and have systems and processes in place to consider it all ........ especially if you are going to change the world.

1 comment:

pascoe said...

It sounds pretty clear Richard that the ad agency was a creative agency (as opposed to media).

The Whiz-kid you mentioned is a product of burgeoning online spend and a dearth of geniune online talent in the market (more so in Melb than Syd, but overall in Australia).

Sounds like all the whiz-kid was missing was access to the web 2.0 BS generator - I got a chuckle of it it ( ) and could just envisage it being used by either creative agency 'planners' or the 'e' depts you mention keep springing up...