The Digital Agencies of the Future!


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This compilation of screen grabs from various ad agencies’ Web sites as seen on the iPhone shows how slow the advertising industry has been to respond to the advent of a Flash-less environment. A disproportionately large number of them are broken due to the unavailability of Flash, and almost all of them show a poor regard for graceful degradation. If you’re running a multimillion dollar business, as I assume most of these agencies’ clients are, why would you trust your marketing and advertising to a company that still, three years after its introduction, can’t design for the mobile computing device that dominates the popular discourse? See the full inventory here.

On a side note, the Swedish outpost of Grey Advertising has gone in the completely opposite direction: the TAXI Creative Network reports that Grey Stockholm has abandoned its own site and moved entirely over to Facebook. That’s embarrassing in a whole different way.

  1. It is amazing. The same is true for restaurant websites: they run Flash (with long splash-page animations) like it’s 1999. But then again, they have the excuse that it’s not *literally their job* to be on top of the latest in interactive design and message dissemination…

  2. And the fashion/couture/luxury industries. “If I were Anna Wintour, I would be screaming at these companies to fix these sites. They reflect poorly on an industry that’s all about effortless style, appearance, confidence, and never, ever having a hair out of place … This is like they’ve got no pants on” -kottke

  3. For folks interested primarily in the “wow” factor mobile accessibility is a tough sell. The iPad is going to change all this as it can truly deliver great web experiences in a way that the small screen of the phone never could.

  4. It’s interesting to contrast Grey Stockholm’s move to Facebook with your other story about Twitter’s move to centralizing their brand. It’s all novelty and yet nothing new. I think it all goes to show how much tunnel vision we get as designers and marketers, thinking that the work we do is vital. People, I think, don’t care so much about identifying with brands so much as they do with stories. Grey Stockholm’s and Twitter’s strategies both make for interesting stories and so get more attention, which is what marketing is about to begin with.

  5. without sounding too disrespectful, i feel that statements like this are contributing to the problem. you (Khoi) make it sounds like iPhone is the “one grand disruptive event” that occurred 3 years ago and fundamentally shifted the mobile landscape.

    (which simply isn’t true. number of smartphones sold has doubled, and mobile web traffic has quadrupled steadily every year since 2005, and iPhone launch in 2007 doesn’t even register as a blip on those graphs)

    the only thing that iPhone does in fact dominate, as you say, is mind-share, but that is the wrong way of thinking about these things. 10 years ago, IE6 dominated the market, and Flash dominated the mind-share, so every agency built a fancy flash site.

    today, iPad is the new shiny thing, and i bet in a year, half of those agencies will have “a mobile site” built for iPhone/iPad (that will just maybe, with some luck, work on other touch-enabled-webkit-based mobile browsers).

    as this comment is getting longer than the original blog post, i will stop, hoping that i conveyed the fallacy of that kind of thinking..

  6. Tom: I see your point, but I would respectfully argue that it’s a subjective take on the situation. On the other hand, it would seem obvious to me that many of these agencies’ clients are looking to broadcast their brands and messages on iOS devices in particular, and it seems incongruous that the agencies’ own sites wouldn’t run on those devices. That’s the irony here.

  7. This issue was brought up when our agency was launching its new site two years ago ( The decision to go with Flash was based on the fact that we feel it’s the best way to display our work–and that very few potential clients (the audience for our site) would be selecting their next agency via Safari on an iPhone. That said, we simply created a stripped-back, non-Flash mobile version for those few who might happen on our site. Our analytics still tell us that this audience is still very small.

  8. very interesting to see.

    maybe it actually shows how much people and agencies like flash! maybe steve jobs got it wrong on this one and flash really is seen as an integral part of the web. at the moment…

    there is so much online debate among a select crowd about whether flash is dead, and is steve jobs the messiah/devil, and lots of hype about smart phones and mobile web. but it is a distorted view that most people do not subscribe to.

    most people aren’t checking out advertising agency websites on their smartphones. most people use smartphones for making calls, sending txts, writing emails, using map applications, taking photos and going on facebook. i think jim walls comments back this up.

    the ipad may persuade some agencies to do an ios version of their site, but as more tablets running flashplayer are released and ios market share drops further then agencies may be less inclined to spend the time and money on such a tiny audience.

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