Friday, August 14

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There's nothing more obsolete online than the advertising agency website. In the ad biz reputation is everything. It's who you know and who knows you. Or at least someone who knows someone who knows the guy who used to work with you and thought you two should meet.

If you rely on your agency website to generate new biz leads then you are doomed. If you rely on your website to attract good employee talent then you are doomed. Rely on your website to express your agency culture, competitive difference, and creative philosophy? Doomed.

At best these sites are Creative Directors Gone Wild expressions of navel-gazing ego-filled self-flagellation that confuse the hell out of the average visitor. At worst they are built by the PR interns and a couple freelancers between pitches, barely worth the cheap hosting space they occupy.

Which makes the recent Adweek article -- that agency sites are going Web 2.0 in an effort to impress everyone else -- even more ironic:
Agency sites, once a sea of client work and clever copy, increasingly are experiments in social media and other Web 2.0 technology. The goal of an agency is not only to show potential clients its ability to create state-of-the-art experiences with site navigation, aggregation and customization, but to create forums for consumer insights about the shop and its work.
First of all, potential clients could care less about your site. And if they did visit it, then a whacked out 2.0 explosion is bound to ensure they step away slowly never to return. So I call bullshit on this:
"For clients searching for an agency and doing their own research, the Web site is very important," says David Beals, president and CEO of new-business consultancy Jones Lundin Beals. "It's a first peek of what the agency is about, what they stand for. ... If a client is very into social media or networking, an agency can send out that signal through their own Web site."
If I have to go to your website to understand your relationship with social media, then that pretty much answers it.

Clients select agencies based on their street cred, their creative reel and, just sometimes, their actual strategic recommendations. Even an awesome agency iPhone app can't change that. Reducing your site to 140 characters or less? That's a start.


Mark said...

Very interesting read. What should the agency website be used for? Should there even be one? If so, what's the best use: Posting job opening, not scaring away a potential client, contact info?

--stephen said...

1) Map to your office
2) Press releases
3) List of client logos
4) Sizzle video reel of creative work

Actually I'd love to see an agency just put up a link to a PDF file.

I always wanted to recommend a site that can be downloaded and printed.

Michael said...

If you actually had a CEO like Jerry Della Femina who was actually interesting, he could have a blog on there. But those guys are extinct; the last thing I'd want to read is anything said by the current head of any Chicago agency larger than 15 people.