As we embrace digital and inbound marketing one question keeps popping up in my mind… do we still need creative design? As we move away from print – especially print advertising – and embrace visual content, it feels like the need for high-end, traditional creative (and its subsequent cost) is diminishing…quickly. Let’s take a look.
1. Rise of Visual Content
Visual content has exploded over the past few years. Consider this…there were 3.8 trillion photos taken in all human history up until 2011. According to Mylio, in 2015 alone we took 1 trillion photos. And associations have become much smarter at capturing, and creatively using, these photos. Most association websites are rich in member photos and videos and the once dominant (and highly designed) header banner image has been replaced by massive hero images.
2. Demise of Banner Ads
Traditional banner ads, typically designed by a creative agency or in-house designer, like the medium rectangle or leaderboard are struggling. According to Adweek, more than 80 percent of digital ads are ignored and 63 percent of millennials use ad-blocking software. This does not paint a bright future for the banner ad.
3. Mobile-Optimized Websites
Add to this the emergence of mobile-optimized websites that sport single column, easy to scroll content. These sites eliminate the right or left hand column, where banner ads typically reside, in favor of full width pages with much larger fonts. The trend away from ineffective website slideshow players where “ads” were front and center in favor of the hero image also erodes the importance of creative.
4. Trend Toward Simplicity
Over the past few years website design has moved toward simplicity – mostly due to the emergence of mobile-optimized websites. This means less copy, larger fonts, more white space and fewer flashing images. As more and more people use smartphones to browse the web, the need for this simplicity only increases. Where does this leave the traditional creative agency? Gulp.
5. Mobile Apps
The explosion of mobile apps has also dented the need for traditional creative. Splash pages and tiny banner ads have a place but the diminutive screen real estate means that digital creative is less important – and the need to monetize apps pushes your association ads to the side in favor of sponsored images.
So where does this leave the traditional creative agency? Some agencies have pivoted. The smart ones are fully embracing digital while the exceptional agencies are now focused on inbound marketing services – including a full suite of digital activities like search engine optimization (SEO), buyer persona development, keyword research and optimization, website design and personalization, content development, lead scoring, marketing automation and sales enablement. Some rock star inbound agencies include IMPACT Branding & Design (full disclosure – Aptify is an IMPACT client), SmartBug Media, Kuno Creative, and many others.
So has your association’s agency pivoted. Or has your in-house design team revamped their activities? Has your association embraced inbound marketing? My advice is to start today… otherwise your association will be made irrelevant.
So what do you think? I know this is provocative but it’s an important discussion to have…