Hooking up with a digital agency is no minor undertaking. Whether it’s for (re-)branding purposes or the need to tighten up site optimization and analytics, a digital agency will profoundly affect the outcome of your brand perception, on and offline.
Named OMMA’s (Online Media, Marketing, and Advertising) 2013 Silver Agency of the Year, Digitaria is one the nation’s premier digital agencies, serving big-name clients like Del Monte, Rolex, Qualcomm, Petco, and Vonage.
Digitaria happens to be only a few miles away from the CPC Strategy office, so we were curious to see what they had to say. It was our pleasure to catch up with Digitaria’s co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Daiga Atvara.
Describe Digitaria in 50 words or less.
Daiga: Digitaria is a digital agency founded in 1997, owned by WPP and aligned with JWT. We are rooted in the disciplines of design, data, marketing, and technology. Through immersive experiences, we transform the way brands communicate and how businesses run. We’re a fun group and a great place to work.
In your eyes, what’s the future of digital advertising?
Daiga: Ha! What’s the future of any kind of advertising? Throughout history, we have continually invented more and more media channels and forms of communication, but it’s always just been a different way to tell a story – letters, signs, songs, pictures, books, newspapers, film, radio, TV, websites, apps, etc.
Digital brings ever more immediate connections – the Internet, mobile, social. Advertising is increasingly interactive and conversational, and that’s forcing brands to become transparent – and believe me, forcing them is the right word, because almost none of them actually want to do it, though at least most of them now realize they have to.
Even so, it’s already become less about “communicating” and more about “experiencing” the brand. It’s about building brand relationships, and, in some cases, relationships with the people who make it – people felt they “knew” Steve Jobs, for example, and felt they could trust him to deliver a quality experience.
Advertising has evolved – and it is an evolution, a step forward – from media driven awareness to desire marketing: from think-feel-do to do-feel-think. That’s why we are talking so much about content, event marketing, cause marketing, social management, big data, attribution, and so on.
Advertising and marketing in general will become much more integrated, and we’re starting to see that already. The separation between “above the line” and “below the line” will become “through the line.” But by then I’m sure there will be another medium that will make things even more interesting and complicated.
How can a bootstrapped, low resources business create meaningful digital experiences for potential customers?
Daiga: In the same way that any meaningful experiences are created: by planning right, getting great insights, understanding what people need and want. We’ve done it for non-profit clients, Invisible Children and Monarch Schools, and they’ve both been able to stake out an impactful presence with little to no budget for marketing.
Your business’s needs and aspirations (big or bootstrapped) have to match user needs and expectations. Only then the relationship between your business and consumers will be meaningful. If you find out your investment would be too large to create that, then I think you need to revisit your business model or adjust your brand positioning.
As the Executive Creative Director, what drives your creativity?
Daiga: The moments when we can create ideas are very peculiar, almost an out of body experience. It’s definitely not driven by some outside factors like listening to music, reading, seeing a film – those experiences can be invigorating or emotionally inspiring, but not creatively.
For me, it’s the right people to think with. And the ability to “think” with someone is not based on anything specific – it’s just the right fit. So, to me, there are two types of people – one kind I can think with and the other I can’t.
What’s the best and worst part about working out of San Diego?
Daiga: Best: Undisturbed space to think your own thoughts while not being in the middle of nowhere and a laid back attitude that keeps big egos at bay.
Worst: Absence of big talent to poach and the laid-back tendency that provides temptation to settle for a soothing but deadly mediocrity.
What is Digitaria’s unique selling proposition (USP)?
Daiga: The melding of creative ideas with creative technology. We are a rare agency that has both strong creative and design departments and a team of technologists who can build the ideas we create. It speeds up and simplifies the process to have both kinds of creative talent under one roof, and there are still very few agencies that do. I’m not going to say it’s unique, but it’s rare. Very rare.
Also, we have a distinct ability to deliver innovative thinking and products that a lot of companies in our space don’t have because we are digital agency aligned with one of the world’s largest traditional agencies – JWT. We can do small, fast and disruptive things and we can also manage largest global brands. And because of that we can always stay on top of trends and be innovative while never losing sight of the big picture.
What are the benefits of Digitaria to an ecommerce website?
Daiga: Digitaria can add value with insights-based digital strategy, analytics and optimization, superior technology, smart user-experience, and brilliant visual design.
What kind of retailer/business is best suited for Digitaria’s service?
Daiga: We work with some of the world’s largest brands but also local and regional Southern California companies we consider our friends. As long as we are given the opportunity to do amazing work, be innovative and make interesting things, all while having an enjoyable relationship with our clients, there are no limits or rules about whom we work with. It’s all about the right opportunities and uncompromised solutions.
But in general we are best suited for businesses that aren’t creatively conservative and want to do more than just nudge the needle.
What’s next for Digitaria?
Daiga: Benevolent world domination. Never-ending amazingness. New technologies. Fresh solutions. Invigorating inspirations. And original ideas that will let us do all that.
Honestly, I think you’ll see us making and evolving more and more digital products, like our recent collar-cameras for Nature’s Recipe. Things that make marketing more of an experience you share through a brand.
How can a business get started with Digitaria?
Daiga: Give us a call. Or send an email. Simple as that. Human relationships are not automated at Digitaria. We are very old fashioned when it comes to that. If you want to reach me, though, best to call. My email is crazy.
Daiga has led and overseen Digitaria’s creative, design, and UX departments since the agency’s 1997 launch, winning Webbys, One Show, and Cannes recognition, among others. Originally from Latvia, she emigrated to America on a full artistic university scholarship and evolved into one of the most highly regarded digital creatives in the industry, as Digitaria has grown from an eight-person San Diego boutique to a 250+ employee WPP-owned full-service powerhouse.
In 2012, Daiga was named an Advertising Age Woman to Watch, an OMMA Creative All-Star, and one of Business Insider’s 33 most Creative Women in Advertising.