The inverse relationship between innovation and scale: and the tragedy of smart stuff that simply passes us by

this is good.  really good.  OK so no one is going to disagree with the fact that it's a cracking bit of insight-translated-into-execution.  but here's the thing…  does it reach enough people, and is that important?  and am I a bad planner for even asking that question?

I've written recently about the tyranny of reach and the grip that it holds on Australian marketers.  I observed that reach is, as Admiral Ackbar would say, a trap…  as long as it remains our default method of measurement, our modus enumeri if you like, we will eternally be lamenting our collective inability to stretch fewer resources over more places in more ways.

so I don't for a second give credence to 'reach-based' advertising, but I do suspect that in the main there's probably two kinds of media campaign in the world.  mainstream media campaigns that have scale, and innovative media campaigns that remain niche.  there are of course exceptions to this – those examples of innovative media thinking that break through and deliver scale, but they are the exceptions that prove the rule; by in large – from a media perspective – my bet is that there's an inverse relationship between scale and innovation…  a bit like this…

Scale_innovation_one avoiding the innovation vs. scale envelope into which most media campaigns fall

the challenge for any media effort is to get into the top right quarter, you want to innovate so that you cut-thru / are engaged with / generate earned media / bring down the overall cost-per-impact of your effort.  given these conditions, there are generally therefore only two ways to get top right…  either you attach scale to your innovative efforts or you inject innovation into existing scale.

a comment was made to me earlier in the week that one of the great benefits of using Facebook is the scale it can bring to an idea.  in this context you can rationalise how one of the main reasons Facebook's ad revenues are set to undergo such significant growth is because advertisers increasingly see it as a 'safe' way to bring scale to a schedule.  Facebook is a very good 'scaler'.

the alternative is to take an idea that already has scale and inject
innovation into it – I guess you could argue that efforts to, for
example, bring interactivity to TV sponsorship fit this model.

Scale_innovation_two methods to get you right and top – scalers and innovators

in a perfect world of course you shouldn't have to either attach scale or inject innovation into a plan; both should be inherent – we should be in the business of creating innovative communications ideas that travel.  but these are rare beasts…  and I suspect that whilst no doubt too many conventional solutions fail to innovate, the greater tragedy are the countless innovative media efforts that go to market without sufficient thought into how scale can be generated.  their failure to reach us is ultimately our loss.

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