In his new book, IQ's Michael Schrage examines the impact of digital modeling media in a world that moves at warp speed.
Great advertising is not about great ideas. Great advertising is about the representation of great ideas. How a theme, a campaign, a brand is represented on paper or onscreen is at the heart of its effectiveness.
Consequently, advertising ideas don't just evolve; their representations do. Increasingly, these representations are digital.
Just as software spreadsheets like VisiCalc, Lotus 1-2-3 and Excel radically transformed how people modeled finance, a new generation of digital technologies are transforming how people model advertising. These digital modeling media encompass everything from technologies that allow commercials to be produced more quickly to chat technologies that allow online focus groups to be conducted more efficiently.
Without question, the World Wide Web is the greatest mass medium for modeling, simulation and prototyping in history. Rapid prototyping and just-in-time modeling are integral parts of what has made this new medium so flexible, innovative and pervasive.
The biggest impact of these technologies, however, isn't the speed by which new ideas can be created, but, rather, the impact they have on how individuals and organizations behave. Do they use these media to "automate" the advertising development process? Or do they use new media to better play with new ideas? Are clients involved earlier in the design and evolution of a theme? Or is the ability to integrate client--and customer--input ignored?
These are just a few of the questions explored in IQ contributing editor Michael Schrage's new book, Serious Play: How the World's Best Companies Simulate to Innovate (Harvard Business School Press). The following excerpt, which starts on page 74, explores several of the key design criteria that innovative organizations will confront as they increasingly rely upon digital modeling media to play with their ideas.