Innovations don’t occur every day in the newspaper world, and there are many common mistakes people make when they’re working on them.
In my last blog entry (“Is media the new creative?”), I spoke about working with creative agencies to make innovations come to life. In this one, I’m going to discuss working with editorial. I think this partnership approach highlights the fact that you need to work with a lot of different partners, both internally and externally, to make new things happen.
Make innovations usable for the reader. They need to add to the reader experience. This could be a newspaper, a Web site, or a mobile experience. If it doesn’t enhance their experience, then it’s probably not worth doing. The reader is at the heart of everything we do from an editorial point of view, so why should the advertising be any different? Newspapers are about stories. Talk to any marketing director on any brand and he will tell you that his brand is all about telling stories, as well.
This is not a rule — but try and stay away from gimmicks. With most of the innovations I have worked on, I have tried to have editorial involved to take advantage of a more captive audience. There are some really important boundaries to think about once you “cross the line” and start involving editorial. I think it’s crucial to never compromise editorial integrity. If you work hand-in-hand with editorial staffers, you can do some amazing work.
Get editorial excited. Some of the ideas now out in the marketplace in terms of augmented reality are truly amazing, and I can understand why some advertisers are interested in how to best harness this technology. I’m going to be honest here, so please don’t take offence when I say that not many people will download an app to watch your ad; the reward is simply not good enough. Don’t get me wrong, some of the creative I have seen is awesome. To a reader, however, it’s simply still an ad.
I think the best way to utilise technology like AR is to get editorial involved. Have editorial teams working across innovations like this, so they can build upon it for the true benefit of the reader. Then and only then will people start using this technology to better enhance their reader experience. This will then naturally migrate over to advertising.
Have regular meetings with editorial to ensure they are familiar with these new innovations. After all, they will be the ones you rely on to push it out to the reader.
Don’t launch an innovation or a new creative idea without an advertiser underwriting the entire project. Just about every brand in the world wants to be perceived as being innovative, so pitch your new ideas out to them. This goes far beyond ads on a page or an over-the-page takeover. Pitching out your innovation to an advertiser and getting them on board gives them an unprecedented amount of integration. Something every brand is screaming out for.
At the end of the day, I guess there is no secret behind innovations. They may start out as your own idea, or something you have seen that could be tweaked to work for your audience. One thing is for sure: You can’t do innovation on your own. Collaboration is the key to making good ideas great. You will need multiple departments involved to help any innovation get off the ground. This could be anything from working with the printers to digital specialists and, most importantly, editorial.
In summary, don’t create innovations for innovation’s sake. The result will be far more rewarding for the advertiser, the editorial team, and the reader if the innovation is usable.