Can Ad Agencies Be Digital Incubators?

The digital advertising (communications) industry is the most creative, least innovative type of business currently in existence.

Digital ad agencies come up with some truly unique concepts and campaigns for clients, but they are certainly void of innovation when it comes to shaking up the way they can make money for themselves.

What do I mean exactly?

With developers, idea men (and women), designers and all of the resources needed to innovate from the ground up, ad agencies are the prime place for scalable, startup-like initiatives to happen.

However, with a few exceptions, we don’t often find an ad agency trying to incubate new ideas that can help their own company in the long run.

The problem is, it’s not in ad agency’s DNA to be focused on long-term, scalable growth.  Instead, ad agencies are built upon the idea of client services.  They work to please their clients, and in turn, don’t have the ability to please themselves.  They can only grow through new accounts and are forced to work with a business model built on a very fragile foundation.

I’m really interested in seeing if an agency pops up in the near future to create a campaign mutually beneficial for all parties involved — BBH and Chupa Chups have just recently done so and I don’t think they’ll be the last.

Moving forward, I think we’ll be seeing agencies creating “sandboxes of innovation” within their organization.  In other words, a place where startup culture and intrepreneurship are truly promoted and not the needs of a client.

Agencies that add a “sandbox of innovation” will be incubators in the broadest sense of the word.  New ideas will go in — most will come out failing.

But, if even one has moderate success, that agency will be lining their pockets with a scaleable revenue model to help them grow in the long run.  And who wouldn’t want that?



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  1. Pingback: Exploring New Ad Agency Revenue Models (courtesy of BBH) « Maurice Rahmey