Razorfish Formalizes Ad Product Practice

Digital shop launches Co-Lab initiative

Headshot of Christopher Heine

Agencies have been partnering with emerging media platforms for years to create new ad products. And on the flip side, over the last 18 months, it's been en vogue for popular social platforms like Tumblr and Facebook to launch agency programs.

Today, Razorfish unveils a program called Co-Lab that aims to further converge the agency and digital platform worlds. Co-Lab is dedicated to cultivating items like branded utilities, native ads and other fancy features with a list of beta partners including Microsoft, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Foursquare.  In essense, the new lab will aim to create custom, platform-specific ad treatments.

Bob Lord, Razorfish global CEO, explained Co-Lab in a statement, saying his firm "needed to formalize a transferable, scalable process that could span the varying nature of these opportunities, and this required the soup-to-nuts dedication of an entire practice as well as focused partnerships with key technology platform providers.”

Whether it's Razorfish, AKQA, Digitas, SapientNitro, etc., notable digital shops are clearly focusing beyond search, display and social ads for 2013. Anyone who has listened to them in recent weeks knows they've set sights on dollars to be spent on branded products, such as mobile apps, electronic wearable utilities and retail-based bells and whistles. In terms of the latter, the agency opened a space called Emerging Experiences in Atlanta during October to show retailers the in-store products it is developing. Similar locations are set to debut in San Francisco and New York during early 2013.

"We have to rethink consumer experiences in an environment where the digital and physical are converging," Margaret Czeisler, a nine-year Razorfish veteran who's leading Co-Lab, told Adweek. "I'm not saying 30-second spots are going away because they are not. But there's a new reality. We've been talking about it forever, and it's here."

In other examples pointing to a new digital frontier, AKQA has expressed intent to develop in-car apps with Audi, and SapientNitro issued a dense report that appeared to be a thinly veiled attempt to attract digital in-store accounts. And such developments will likely only gain more steam in the coming months.

Deep Focus CEO Ian Schafer—who was tailoring MySpace ad units for client HBO in 2008—earlier this week summed up the mind-set among pro-innovation digital agencies with the tweet below.


@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.