Packing Up Old Digital Habits

Our agency is in the midst of packing up for an office move. After 11 years in our current space (and one year since the launch of Razorfish Health as a dedicated health brand,) we're moving into new digs that are more centrally located and can accommodate our growth. You can't imagine the items that are being uncovered as we dig through our space; I think we could collectively appear on an episode of "Hoarders."

Uncovering relics from our past has put me in a retrospective mood and I can't help but reflect back on the almost 12 years that I've been working for the agency. What has really hit me the most is just how incredibly far the notion of digital marketing has come in that time. I want to share a few of my favorite memories, which I hope will quickly show you how far our industry has indeed come:

1) We once wanted a certain client to work with us. We decided to spend about $300 running an IP-targeted campaign with ads telling them why they should hire us. Never heard from the client. When we finally spoke with them they told us they saw our ad everywhere and knew we'd be a bad fit because we didn't know how to spend money efficiently.



2) For one of our first forays into paid search for pharma we heard that all of the copy was approved by legal with one little stipulation: when someone clicked on the link a pop-up needed to appear stating that the person was about to leave the search engine to go to another site. Can you imagine getting a pop-up every time you do a Google search? (Speaking of search, anyone remember the days of creating banner ads for paid search campaigns?)

3) For probably the first 50% of my time with the agency our primary client contacts were in IT. Keep in mind that what we were supplying was digital media and marketing creative, not infrastructure support. Regardless, it sat with IT because, "those guys get technology." Very true, but I'd hazard a guess that very few understood -- or wanted to understand -- brand marketing.

4) We had one brand that was very negatively impacted by a study that came out indicating that the product was causing significant health issues for some patients. The client knew about the report and when it was due to drop so worked feverishly with its PR and branding agencies to come up with contingency plans ... but failed to let us know about any of it. At the time the study was released we had a pretty robust media and search campaign running to drive people to their site. It was days before we could get the client's okay to halt the campaign, during which time brand ads were running adjacent to truly unfavorable content and driving people to the brand site which had no messaging about the new data. The client later told us that we weren't contacted sooner because they were focused on impacting their "significant" advertising efforts. Of course, once they saw the amount of traffic driven by negative news articles and how quickly the Internet spread the news, I think they regretted that decision.

More than anything, I am struck by how different our world is now. Digital is as pervasive as oxygen and it's a given that digital touch points will play a significant role in how clients reach and service their customers. Healthcare is putting digital prowess firmly at the center and, instead of talking about brand marketing with IT, we're talking about it with CEOs.

Rather than being the last agency contacted with business changes or challenges, we're one of the first, particularly if there is some news of note. And, thankfully, clients deeply understand the ability to target and communicate to people in very discreet ways and are asking for more of that, not suggesting we don't know how to spend their money.

It's been a wild ride in digital marketing, and I can't wait to see what stories we'll have to laugh about in the next decade. Do you have any to share?

4 comments about "Packing Up Old Digital Habits ".
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  1. R.J. Lewis from e-Healthcare Solutions, LLC, March 11, 2011 at 4:44 p.m.

    Great articles.... I remember those days well! Yes, it's a very different world today. "Digital" is finally getting the respect it deserves.

  2. Katy Thorbahn from Razorfish Health, March 11, 2011 at 5:36 p.m.

    Thanks, R.J.! And agreed..."digital" has moved to the proverbial big table.

  3. Albert Muzaurieta from Good Apple Digital, March 14, 2011 at 11:23 p.m.

    Katy, good luck with the office move. Enjoyed the late night read. Nice trip down memory lane.

  4. Katy Thorbahn from Razorfish Health, March 16, 2011 at 12:55 p.m.

    Thanks, Al! You'll need to come visit the team in our new space.

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