In this interesting post, Nic Hodges asks why aren’t we creating great digital work. By this, I think he may be referring specifically to the Australian advertising industry (but I could be wrong) — for there are certainly some excellent digitally-driven campaigns and case studies available for other markets. Nic discusses three issues around producing truly integrated work — lack of skills/knowledge, difficulty in convincing/educating clients, and a lack of process surrounding the integration of digital into an overarching campaign. He explains:

The fundamental idea that underpins these issues is that digital is a channel. Radio was a new channel. Television was a new channel. Digital is not a new channel, digital is a new world. It is an evolution of media that has taken with it the advertising industry. It is an evolution that, in the relatively short history of advertising, has not happened before.

This got me thinking. Perhaps the challenge that we are facing is not one of channels, nor of integration. I have a feeling that we are approaching this from the wrong direction — from the agency, or from the brand out — and maybe it would profit us to think in the other direction. I made the comment that:

We need to look at the nuances of the traditional channels and then think about how best we can amplify, enable and transform the experiences that consumers have with brands.

With a clear shift away from passive interaction with brands, messages and advertising and a growing adoption of social networks/media, user generated content and experiences that extend from the second to the third screen, the role of the digital strategist will necessarily move from the margin to the hub of campaign planning. This is not to downplay the role of the traditional or even the channel planner. But, in the near future (ok, now), brands need to be reaching and inviting us all to participate in ways that deprioritise the channels that favour one-way communications — opting instead for digitally-enabled experiences that blur the boundaries, amplify the stories and activate our engagement in polyphonic conversational structures. It’s time to stop looking through the channel and start listening to the conversations that are already ringing in our ears.