Ideaboost innovations

From chemical tracking apps to new ways to listen to music, Critical Mass' Matt Di Paola finds breakthrough ideas outside agency walls.

By Matt Di Paola

Finding true breakthrough technology and innovation within the advertising agency community in Canada is a difficult task. There are many campaigns that find innovative ways to tell their stories, but they lack true innovation in using technology to engage a brand’s customers in a new way or change behaviour.

I think the lack of innovation from agencies comes from the traditional agency model, where we are trained and rewarded for innovation at a short-term, campaign level based on a client brief. Beyond addressing the brief, advertising agencies fall short. Our greatest failure is not investing in the development of intellectual property such as revenue-generating business ideas for both the client and the agency. Today, there are only a few local agencies thinking this way, but it’s something we hope will shift.

Where the true innovation is happening in Canada, or at least in Toronto, is outside the agency community at start-up incubators and accelerator programs such as MarsRyerson’s Digital Media Zone and OCAD with its recent vending machine of future artifacts. And it’s happening at the Canadian Film Centre’s Ideaboost program.

  • RadioMogul lets brands or individuals curate and broadcast their own Internet music-based radio stations, which can be leveraged across their owned media properties (digital or physical).  The music licensing is already negotiated. So, any brand or individual that wants to use music to engage their audience, can legally set this up in the same amount of time it takes to copy and paste embeddable YouTube code.
  • Think Dirty is a beautifully-designed app that scans barcodes of beauty and body care products, and gives users a simple and easy-to-understand explanation of all the potential toxins in those products.
  • Instaradio is essentially the PA system for the Internet. If you’re already bored of Snapchat, Vine and Twitter, this is an alternative way to broadcast your life by creating your own talk radio station without the pain of the iPhone or Android keypads.
  • Last, but not least, with its pending launch, the Mind Pirate Production Lab, from the people behind Ideaboost, will release its first round of gaming and consumer apps using wearable technology, including Google Glass, later this week.

Hopefully, as the advertising industry continues to evolve and adopt the tenets of digital thinking, entrepreneurialism and product design, we will see more ideas that leverage technology to engage consumers in a creative way AND have a life outside of one campaign or brief.

There is a great opportunity for agencies to change by shifting the mindset and process with clients by partnering with them to help drive innovation.  By looking outside of our own walls and industry, we can learn new ways to approach new problems.

matt di paola Matt Di Paola is SVP and general manager at Critical Mass.