The Creative Economy is Taking Over but Canada is Lagging Behind the Movement

late July Elance job report shows an upswing in the “creative economy” over technical positions globally in the second quarter of 2012 for the first time ever. Elance says that companies are looking for new ways to attract and engage customers. This is the explanation behind the 3% lead creative positions have taken over technical ones at 42% to 39%.

As for Canada? According to Martin and Millway’s book, “Canada: What it is, What It Can Be,” Canadian businesses underpay creative people compared to their US counterparts. This is a trend that likely needs to change if Canada is going to keep their top creative talent. The book also outlines that Canada is behind the United States in the number of creative positions that comprise of the total workforce.

Andy Berndt, a VP at Google’s Creative Lab says in Project:Rebrief, a film about re-imaging advertising, “there’s the Wright brothers who have this marvelous invention and scientifically, technologically, it’s mind blowing. It changes everything, sort, of, but it isn’t there until there’s the DC8 or the DC9 and lots of people can fly that the world changes. So if we invent things here, that’s great but until we get them to a point where … a lot of people can use them and use them well, they don’t have the power to change the world.”

For context, programmers have been building websites for a variety of organizations, businesses and governments for years on end while charging exorbitant fees for their specialized skills. That is no more evident than the $3 million it cost to build the City of Vancouver’s website. It is however still difficult for organizations to find employees who have that special blend of technical and creative, so employees are usually one or the other.

Berndt points out that technology doesn’t have the power to change the world until lots of people can use the technology well. We have seen how blogs changed the face of media because millions of people could write and easily post online. But it’s likely most of those people don’t know how to code.

Now we’re beginning to enter an age where creative people are taking the gauntlet away from technical people because programmers have built easy-to-use software to build custom websites, infographics, visual blogs, and a host of other things.

There are services like the recently included Adobe Muse as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud that enables designers to create HTML pages without coding. The company says: “Planning, designing, and publishing original HTML pages is as easy as creating layouts for print. With master pages, built-in-tools for interactivity, and access to over 400 web fonts … it’s a snap to produce distinctive, professional websites.”

For small and medium sized businesses the number barriers to entry on the web are becoming smaller everyday as custom website building does not require the thousands of dollars it once did. Programs like Google’s Canada Get Your Business Online have also helped in this regard. These types of businesses won’t need something as elaborate as large corporations and probably don’t require programmers, but creative people that know how to use a computer.

Becoming a programmer isn’t easy either—the amount of time it takes to learn programming languages and become good at it requires tremendous effort. That’s not to say programmers won’t still be needed. Services like Adobe Muse allow programmers to custom alter the code to make websites more catered to companies custom needs.

Still, creating a website and getting online has never been easier.

As for advertising evolving beyond the click banner ad and display ad, Brad Bender, the Director of Product Management for Google says in the film, “we’re only a decade and a half into this. It’s TV and its first 10 years, or, you know, radio on its first 10 years, you just—we’ve got so much more to go.”

By the end of Project: Rebrief, one of Google’s creative teams had outlined an exceptionally creative way to make personalized display ads for Alka-Seltzer. Romans says in the film that “Alka-Seltzer is taking who you are as an audience and customizing a story to you. So a story starts being told and then you get to a point where you want to customize that based on who you are from a series of ten clips that are relevant to different types of audiences or different geo-locations and we would bring that part of the story in.” Ad watchers could also play with the main character in the clips and attempt to wake the actor up.