I was once forced to be in an uncomfortable situation where a new creative director, I will call her “Susan,” was hired at an agency I worked for. She needed to validate her role and salary so she started to restructure teams. She wanted to make a clear distinction between the creative teams and the developers.
I was a designer that had taught myself to code so that I would be able to usher in my designs without having them changed by a developer. Developers are notorious for changing fonts or placing images a pixel or two off and I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen. At least that’s what I told people.
I actually learned coding because I loved the creative solutions that could be found in code. Interactive advertising might be the most difficult tasks for a developer because of the many restrictions that are imposed on one ad unit…file-size being the biggest culprit. Code libraries can’t used because they would bloat the file size but with a few creative lines of code and some knowledge of photoshop, an effect can be created that can look very elegant.
Susan sat me down at a glass topped table near a window with an incredible view of the city. We discussed the accounts I was working on and the progress it had made. The talk was dwindling down and Susan looked at me with a very serious face. She took a dry erase marker out of her pocket and wrote two words on the glass table, “designer” and “developer”. She told me that she was interested in my career path and that I needed to choose one. She handed me the dry erase marker and told me to circle my answer. I thought about it for a while. I mean, our industry needs creativity AND technology and those two are/were married in my mind. How could I choose just one? In one swoop I quietly circled both words. She gave me a resigned look and that was the last time we talked about anything but the weather.
At that time, media deals were still being brokered with publishers and brand awareness was the KPI. A year later, media agencies started selling inventory on trading desks and budgets were getting funneled into that instead of the creative. The idea was to get more eyeballs to see the brand, not engage with it – the billboard philosophy. Besides that, rich media was too costly when the money is spent on purchasing audiences.
Luckily trading desks ushered in the era of modern programmatic ad buying and creative is relevant again. Now more than ever. Both technology and creativity have to work hand-in-hand to fully leverage the power of programmatic media buying.
Finally, technology and creativity can be embraced together in a dual ideation process. I’m relevant again!!