My Journey to Flexitive – Innovating Design Production Within a Marketing Agency

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Guest post by Joel Nagy, Creative Technology and Innovation Consultant

As a veteran of the agency world for more than ten years, I’ve focused on development and innovation. I’ve worked with every variation of ad, from the simplest animated GIF, to complex Flash takeovers, to the current evolution of HTML5 ads.

The heyday of Flash was a golden period of amazing animations, video, and the introduction of synchronized ad units. With the advent of mobile, it became obvious to me that HTML5 would become the new standard and that these units needed to be capable of the same ease of development as well as the same level of quality seen in their predecessors.

There was, however, a lack of desires among many Flash developers to move to HTML5, and few vendors at the time that could build out an HTML5 unit with the same speed and cost as a Flash unit. Add to that a lack of decent tools that were capable of improving the development process and you had a state that kept many agencies from pushing clients into this new world of display.

And now we are in a world where HTML5 has become commonplace, Chrome dropped support for Flash, and agencies are still struggling to find a decent solution that won’t break the bank but still deliver on time. Fancy lunches with sales execs from various vendors that claim to have amazing ad tools – but are riddled with hidden costs – turned me off the idea of an effective solution to the problem. In the meantime, I needed to put together multiple vendors and develop a process to improve the process of getting creative from an idea on a storyboard to a final product. The back and forth between the teams over making the creative concepts come to life was often the major sticking point and made the entire process much longer than one would hope for; however, at the time, it was the best solution and at least the outcome always met our expectations.

When an opportunity to chat with the folks at Neuranet came along, I was skeptical at the time and reluctant to go down this path again. But hoping for something innovative to come along, I took the time to hear them out.

I’ve never been a fan of businesses that try to fool a potential customer with what seems like a great deal only to hit them later with surprise fees, so the clear pricing model for Flexitive persuaded me to give Neuranet a chance. Once I explored the Flexitive platform I became intrigued with their offering. Seeing how to export files and the associated charges further illustrated the lack of hidden costs that would hit me or my client later with other platforms. The next reason to continue the conversation was the willingness of the Flexitive team to be very open about their roadmap and their desire to help my clients achieve both the level of creative quality and a feature set required in their display ads.

Once the trial began, I was able to get myself and my team to dive into using the platform for various tasks to determine how well this tool could actually help us achieve our goals. My first task was to establish a set of criteria for the evaluation. We looked to previously created ads both in HTML5 and Flash along with new creative concepts currently being designed. I tasked the team with one of two goals; design a new ad using Photoshop only for photo editing and using Flexitive for layout and storyboarding, or recreate a previously built ad developed before the trial. Each test required a slightly different approach to how we utilized Flexitive.

We found that storyboarding a new design was the easiest task as the expectations for attempting to be pixel perfect were less of a concern with the responsive nature of Flexitive, and its ability to transform a single design into multiple sizes on its own. The platform actually allowed us to be more concerned with the overall message, and the animation flow. Redeveloping from existing designs had concerns due to a desire to be pixel perfect and recreating animations that mimicked the original, without allowing for optimizations that existed using the automated resizing functionality.

Now that we had established our own expectations for the platform, including as a prototyping tool for new ad storyboards, a process could be created that cut out many steps along the way and even cut out the need for a developer. Having a final ad unit developed from scratch without having to hire a developer, with multiple sizes in a shorter time than it took us to create one design, at an extremely affordable price, drove home the need for this platform to be introduced into an agency’s creative process.

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