We live in an age of agency differentiation. What makes one agency better than the next? Some might say it’s their creative. Or maybe it’s their ideas. However, creative and ideas are qualitative. On some projects they come easily; on others they take a bit of time and are reached after carefully conducted research and strategic planning.
So how do you quantitatively separate yourself as an agency in today’s world? Intellectual Property.
Over the last ten years we’ve seen agencies begin to invest in products of their own. Some products are physical, others are digital, and some are simply defined processes for developing great creative or coming up with a ‘big idea.’ We’ve seen agencies create record labels, mobile video kiosks, and software. Think about 360i CEO Bryan Weiner’s 2009 invention of the Tweet Bar.
Sometimes IP comes as a result of a client partnership; other times it’s developed out of creative, internal juices – a byproduct of the agency. Conversation recently created RFID tags for an event. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is a technology that uses radio waves to transfer data from an electronic tag, called RFID tag or label, attached to an object, through a reader for the purpose of identifying and tracking the object. At the event, all attendees wore bracelets (RFID tags) that we created. When the attendees scanned their bracelets at different scanners around the event space, a message would automatically post to their personal Facebook and Twitter pages.
So, why Intellectual Property? Simple: it creates the opportunity to increase profit centers. IP increases agency appeal because it decreases costs to clients (by allowing agencies to operate more efficiently).
In an article written by Ron Owens for the Baltimore Business Journal, he reports on a poll conducted by the Lou Harris Organization on what business owners consider to be most important services offered by their ad agencies. He writes, “business owners rate most important those services that they depend on an advertising agency to provide to them exclusively.” IP allows ad agencies to patent their work and sell (or provide) exclusively to their own clients.
The laws that protect intellectual property are certainly incentives for the production of all types of inventions-tangible or intangible. The ingenuity that is put into these original thoughts and products is rewarded with protection that sustains competition in the creative world of advertising. Healthy competition is what raises the industry bar and keeps the creative mind in motion.
IP is an internal boost that keeps an agency creative and interesting. In today’s world, investing in intellectual property is like investing in the stock markets of yesterday but better –but with IP, the investor is in control.