Traversing the New Media Maze: Dave Smith Sheds Light on Life at a UK Full-Service Agency

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As far as the UK vs. US in terms of audience and clients, do you find any significant differences in terms of how creative is done with the agencies here or how it’s done over there and audience reception and client feedback? Or do you feel the online space is globally in sync with how agencies run and operate?

It’s difficult for me to say really. All I can talk about is my experience. I was out in LA about six months ago at a games conference, and I [visited] a couple of the studios while I was out there because we had been doing work with them both in the UK and with their international office. But they really seem to like some of the creative that we’re doing.

We’re very much an idea-based agency and quite often studios in LA are looking for some really, really good cut-through big ideas, so that’s what they’re coming to us for. And also, we’re finding that advertising-wise, the market over here may be slightly more mature in terms of the different types of formats and just how people are pushing the boundaries in terms of the formats. So, we’re increasingly working to put together fantastic international creative that can be used through [rich media providers like] Eyeblaster across the whole of Europe.

In the UK, are you seeing more of a mobile proliferation, or an online proliferation? What do you guys have a one-up on when it comes to the space?

For us the big thing over the next twelve months is going to be video content. Studios are finally getting their acts together in terms of licensing all of their content through all different platforms, which means that we’re getting interviews that we can post on YouTube, we can put on Google Video and that we can supply fiscally. So, it’s all about using our client’s content and syndicating it out to different websites and getting the most coverage for them.

I talked to a few people who have global operations and they say the US catching up in terms of social networking and mobile audience and technology-wise, but Europe and Asia are still frontrunners. In essence, mobile and social networking are the two big phenomenons in the industry. So is it similar over there?

It is, but the big thing about mobile is the whole text messaging thing and I think that kind of took off over here a lot quicker than it did in the US. It is a big industry still and there’s a lot going on, but my personal view is that the mobile TV thing is going to take a while to really kick in. It’s certainly not as big as social networking is at the moment. I mean social networking is a big thing here, but I believe that we’re behind you in terms of social networking. We’ve jumped on the MySpace bandwagon now, whereas [the US] been doing it for quite a while. So mobile’s quite a mature market here, but mobile TV and content is not something that we’re pursuing massively right now.

TV Mobile seems to be a little bit of niche here as well, but once somebody starts something new in the industry, people just go, “What is this? I’ve got to jump on this now”, like Web 2.0

We’ve printed ourselves off the buzzword bingo cards because Web 2.0 is crossed off on everyone’s card.

I think it’s already exhausting itself here, too.

I hope so. I don’t like the phrase.
I think it sounds like a pretentious umbrella term that people wing around without knowing what it actually entails.

Exactly. The interesting thing is, and I was just talking to a client about this the other day, he’s been a client for a long time, and we were sort of reminiscing about how we first started off work, because we do a lot of online PR here. And he was saying that when we first started working together, he envisaged that, and he was very candid, that he’d be working with us for about 12 months and learn how to do it and that [his company] would be taking the work off of us.

And actually the opposite is true, because the number of things that you can do in terms of publicity online seems to be accelerating rather than slowing down. So he just had no prospect of keeping up with all of these developments, and that’s the exciting thing. It just seems to be accelerating rather than slowing in any way.

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