Beta is the tech industry’s term for “not quite finished.” In order to get their products to market, hi tech firms aggressively launch, then release new versions of their products as they improve them, via internal learning and external feedback. Hence, Windows 7, Mac OS 10 and so on.
For tech companies, perpetual beta is the desired state of things. I think other industries, media and marketing in particular, can learn from this example. Like technology, media and marketing are fluid and change is swift and constant like a river.
One of the changes I can relate to is the unwillingness found in some of the better agencies to refer to themselves as ad agencies. TBWA\ChiatDay, for instance, calls itself a media arts lab.
Lee Clow explains:
We have to re-think what we call media. Media used to be simply a way for brands to target consumers, but today, media is the way that people are engaging with the world around them. Really, media is just any space between a brand and the audience. And in fact, I believe the best brands will become media themselves: the places, spaces, experiences people choose to spend time with. Already, the Apple stores are a media experience, and iTunes is serving millions of songs, podcasts and playlists – all media of the brand. And others like Nike, adidas and Virgin are shaping their brands to make themselves a medium through which people experience their lives.
Bonehook is a creative services firm. “Ad agency” doesn’t work because it’s not broad enough to encompass our work as content developers.
Bonehook makes ads, but we exist to tell stories. We tell brand stories, via traditional advertising and content marketing and we develop our own media properties. The two go hand-in-hand. Perhaps that will change someday, and Bonehook will morph to reflect a new reality. I’m good with that.