Q&A With Wesley ter Haar, Founder of MediaMonks

Wesley ter Haar is Founder of MediaMonks.

Wesley ter Haar is Founder of MediaMonks.

The CreateTech Conference has always been about the present and the future. Where is the industry today, and where is it headed? To answer this question we engage the thought leaders, visionaries and experts in the field and ask them to share their insights and POVs. This year, in addition to having these people speak at the conference, we’ve also asked them to be part of our online content initiatives. This gives them an opportunity to explore topics and ideas beyond their conference presentation, and also allows those unable to attend a chance hear from these industry leaders. 

Wesley ter Haar is Founder of MediaMonks. Established in 2001, MediaMonks is a member of SoDA and part of the FWA Hall of Fame.  He will be presenting at this year's CreateTech on Wednesday 11/9.

CreateTech: How has digital advertising changed since MediaMonks was founded 15 years ago?

Wesley ter Haar: We used to call it "The Internet" which I think captures the main difference between then and the digital now. The work we do is everywhere, and no longer captured or encapsulated on a single (at that time) niche channel. The upside to that is the work we do is now often front and center of the campaign, the downside is there was a looseness to those early years that allowed for more experimentation. The industry has grown up, and with it the work we do and deliver.

CT: Has technology opened new pathways for design, or has it simply caught up to our imagination?

WtH: I think some of the best work tends to happen when you work with limitations, it's really about expanding what's possible within an existing technology or platform that often makes work exciting. The interesting thing in our industry is that the technology that carries the creative content is always changing, and not in a linear fashion. It isn't a naturally upward swing, often jumping to completely new channels or platforms that are at the beginning of their evolution. It's a game of snakes and ladders, the playing field constantly shifts and you need both the technical acumen and creative capacity to stay in the game.

MediaMonks and Solarin Product Site, crafted with Sirin Labs; MediaMonks and U.S. Air Force, crafted with GSD&M.

CT: How does Design Thinking pervade the work at MediaMonks?

WtH: It's at the base of almost everything we do, keeping in mind that design is so much more than aesthetics. It's about user experience, use of data, copy, motion, smart integration of technology and more. Our goal at MediaMonks is to design a great user experience, and to do that well requires a very broad definition of design, and a very narrow focus on the quality of it.

CT: You were the head of the Digital Craft award at Cannes this year. What role does design play in Digital Craft?

WtH: It's impossible to talk about Digital Craft and not focus on design, it's the representation of all the ideas and information that have gone into the work. If it's bad, the work is bad. There is a broader discussion to be had about what encapsulates design in a digital piece, as it is so much more than just the visual aesthetic, but there is no discussion about its value as part of the digital craft category.

CT: You have offices all around the world, is Design Thinking a global language, or does it take different forms in different parts of the world?

WtH: The number one goal for our global offices is to be culturally relevant. You cannot be myopic about design, it's a global language, but it comes with dialects you need to celebrate and make part of your creative.