The Quick and the Dead
"Yesterday," is almost always the reply.
When I left a big agency to join an online firm, this was one of my first big adjustments. The accounts I had worked on prior to moving to K2 in 1996 had long lead times for planning. We would have several months to put together communications plans and integrated media plans before the new calendar year started. I was used to this long lead time. My first campaign at K2 was one in which the client needed to be up and running as soon as possible, as were the next several.
At the time, I noticed the trend and wrote a column about it, lamenting the days of having two months to plan TV, radio, print and online. And I expected that one day, the industry's pace would slow a bit and clients would give us more time to develop a strategy and plan. It never really happened.
Over time, a good planner adjusts to the pace, and even learns to come up with some of his best ideas in the first 20 minutes of a brainstorming session. Some even enjoy working under the pressure, not minding the late nights at the office and 5-minute over-the-phone negotiation sessions.
It's no biggie anyway. The nature of online advertising is such that it changes dynamically over time. Even the most poorly-planned campaign can eventually morph into a good one through optimization.
Although I still miss the days when time was on my side, I can't help but think that speed to market should be a major selling point of online media.
Ever plan trade print? Some books require two month lead times for space reservation and creative. (Granted, a good planner can get extensions, but there's still a significant lead time.) Production lead times for broadcast can get pretty hairy, too. Yet, give an integrated agency a couple days and an online campaign can go live in much less time than it takes to launch a traditional media campaign.
Companies that need to quickly adjust to current events and market conditions should see online media as a savior. Let's say a company needs to advertise to gain market share in the days following the merger of its two largest competitors. What's going to help there? A quick hit from an online campaign could be just what the doctor ordered. While competitors are trying to organize themselves under the merger, a company could leverage the situation and actually grow their share of market. Magazines can't do it, it's tough to do with broadcast, and don't even mention outdoor.
As an industry, perhaps we should be targeting clients who have to react quickly - faster than traditional deadlines will allow. Personally, I will be looking to such situations as opportunities to win new business.