Armano To Marketers: Do Something Useful

David Armano, VP of Experience Design with Critical Mass, writing in Adweek says, “Many advertisers aren’t focused on building the digital applications that people want to use; they’re focused on somehow cramming marketing into them.”
Armano’s way out of the forest:

1) Usefulness.
2) Utility.
3) Ubiquity.

He calls them the “Three U’s of Advertising in the Application Economy.”

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Part of the problem with Armano’s observations involves digital agencies’ willingness to produce per the client’s expectations. Ad Age noted that digital revenue is skyrocketing. But it’s the result of cheap labor pumping out lots of direct marketing-style work. For every digital project demonstrating the 3U’s, there are millions of email blasts hawking 25% off circular saws at Home Depot.

  2. “Willingness to produce per the client’s expectations” is the thing that kills almost all creative, in whatever media. Great agencies manage their clients, so the client’s objectives are met and the creative is on the mark.

  3. Didn’t mean to say it kills creative. Rather, there is not yet a universal definition of what digital is. For many clients, digital is a direct marketing tactic. And because digital can be tracked like direct marketing, people are very happy to use it that way. I think there are lots of digital shops that are happy to sell the services as such, as it becomes a quick revenue generator for the agency as well as the client.

  4. Ah, good point. I know a lot of people see digital as DM. I’m not one of them. I’m in the relationship marketing camp.

  5. Me too. And I’m also working at a digital shop. Like it or not, the big thing in the entire industry today is accountability. Damned clients want to see financial results (i.e., sales) for the efforts. It’s tough to explain the value or ROI (the phrase is coming to mean Return On Interactive) for creating digital branding work, just as it’s increasingly tougher to sell traditional branding advertising. Ideally, clients should want a mix of branding and direct. But good luck trying to sell digital branding without a healthy dose of the direct. On the flipside, people (clients and certain agencies) are fine with producing digital direct without digital branding.

  6. Yup digitalent. And we (the industry) sold clients on the idea of digital as a DM vehicle. 100% measurable, every click get tracked, etc.
    So we need to unlearn them.
    But Armano’s point, I think, was more about sitework and we do have a tendency to produce flashy sites no one would want to go to (but which might win awards) over useful ones people might actually benefit from.

  7. Toad,
    Don’t hold your breath trying to unteach them. It’s too late. Rather, it’s about teaching them the value of digital branding in conjunction with digital direct. But you want to know the biggest impediment/obstacle to making this happen? It’s the traditional branding advertising agencies, who think they should own all branding responsibilities. Too bad the majority of them are clueless in the digital space. That said, you might have busted me, as I did not read Armano’s full piece, responding mostly to the excerpt David posted. I’ll go read it in its entirety now. Thanks.