IQ News: Insider – Zolli’s Word

For his entire life, Andrew Zolli has been fascinated by language and the ways in which information is communicated. It was at Vassar College and later as a graduate student at Brown University, Zolli recalls, that he studied cognitive science– the study of the mind/body relationship and how the brain processes information. Today, he leans on his grasp of gray matter as vice president of interactive media at Siegel & Gale, a brand consultancy in New York.
Looking ahead, it is the vernacular that concerns Zolli most about the evolving industry–specifically, duplicitous terminology. He feels interactive companies, including Web site developers, Web advertising firms and even systems integrators, all use the same confusing language to describe their function.
“Clients often get very confused, or swindled, as a result,” he explains. “Every kind of interactive firm would like to offer ‘strategy, design and implementation,’ even if few of them can deliver on such a wide promise.”
Zolli proposes the adoption of a “clear, non-subjective language.” It would include terms such as “browsers-to-buyers” and “transaction completion,” all of which relate to a notion anyone can understand: closing a sale.
At 27, Zolli is at the helm of a division that the agency will expand, coming off its recent buyback from Saatchi & Saatchi. It plans to rely more heavily on the strategic and research capabilities of Zolli’s group in order to convince advertisers the Web is more than a cyber bulletin board for posting brochureware. Rather, it can be a service medium and revenue center for clients such as Toys “R” Us, which recently opened up an online toy store with Siegel & Gale’s help.
Zolli cites distinctiveness, ease of use and strategic alignment with companies’ core businesses as key components of Web site success. “Most sites do one of these well,” he says.
And to think the job almost never materialized for Zolli. He was headed back to school to pursue a doctorate degree when the agency asked him to join its interactive division.
Now, Zolli rails against hyperactive agency expansion. For example, he believes the recent consolidation that has swept the industry is motivated by “egomania and greed,” not clients’ needs. Siegel & Gale intends to expand organically in Europe, Asia and other United States markets.
“The very same people who helped give birth to the industry are racing one another to turn their companies into dinosaurs–immense, stupid, lumbering beasts that offer every service imaginable but have ceased any real innovation,” he proclaims.