Art Direction explained

What an interactive art director does


It has always been the conviction of copy writers and art directors that creativity in marketing and in particular advertising, increases the chances of breaking through the information clutter. Ads based on solid concepts have better chances of being memorized by prospects than pure information-driven campaigns, which only recently has been proven by empirical research.

Some art directors do "little more" than giving birth to big ideas and present them to clients, while some oversee almost all aspects of the design and production process. Traditionally art directors are found in above-the-line advertising agencies. Above-the-line (ATL) refers to the term formed in the 1960ís by advertisers who got paid on commission basis (above-the-line) and charged normal rates only for additional services (below-the-line). Nowadays ATL refers to advertising in media such as TV, outdoor, internet etc. while direct-mail and print refers to below-the-line.

With an increasingly saturated online advertising market more fields in this versatile industry emerge demanding for more specialization. Art direction for online media is relatively rare as art directors normally donít specialize in one particular media. The reason for this newly emerged role however is justified by the fact that a campaign conceptualized for a print or TV format cannot easily be translated into online environments. Time and space constraints are very different and also do technical possibilities offer more than a one-way communication of traditional media. Personalization of messages and social interaction between companies and consumers require an in depth knowledge of technological possibilities. Technology is therefore central in forming concepts online.

An interactive art director should have basic knowledge about: Online design, online copy writing, SEO, information architecture, Flash (AS3, Paper Vision etc.), HTML and talking the same language as clients (who normally donít have any technological understanding whatsoever).

When pitching ideas for online campaigns to clients an interactive art director normally can't get away with saying things like "your customers will love that stuff". A claim like this will easily be proven right or wrong by data such as click-through rates, open-rates etc. providing clients with more measurable returns on their investments.

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