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Yahoo! brings Agency Hack to India

Posted: 16th of January, 2013


After the Yahoo WPP and Publicis Hack days in New York, which drew top developers, marketers and designers from the digital advertising and consumer media industry, Yahoo recently brought Agency Hack to India. Held in Gurgaon, an influential tech and media hub, this was our first-ever hackathon in the region open exclusively to advertising agencies.

Some of the country’s biggest ad agencies like Ogilvy, Webchutney and Digitas were there. What made the format interesting was the participation not just from developers, but also designers, user-experience specialists, digital strategists, media planners and copy writers.

Participating teams could choose to either build a campaign-based solution or a product-based one using technologies from Yahoo and other players. Teams came up with smart digital hacks and other ideas to solve real-life problems in a frenzied 24 hours. Working prototypes ranged from mobile apps, to companion apps in a living room experience, to social apps for voting and blood donation. (See the complete list here.)

Since this was a creative bunch, the event had its share of whacky ideas. The winner, “Y! Loo.” was a hardware hack that leverages Yahoo Messenger and enables users to remotely check the availability of their office loos (or conference rooms) and physically knock on the door if engaged! Webchutney took home the Gold for this notification system which they described as an “interactive restroom service.” :)

Digitas walked away with the Silver for their Twitter-based hack “Twinority Report”, a Tweet investigator that anticipates criminal intentions ranging from drug abuse to suicide to serious national threats, by analyzing keyword patterns. (This could also be of use to marketers to gauge or assess a new market / trend).

Sapient Nitro took home the Bronze for their movie viewing companion experience platform “Lens”. This digital advertisement publishing platform enables digital production houses to create ads in the movie timeline in rich visualization formats. Ads created on Lens can be published to companion apps of the production houses on platforms like iOS, Windows and Android.

The judging panel comprised technology, media and marketing experts
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The event was jointly organized by YDN, India Marketing, Communications and the Events team. Our YDN tech crew was also there to support the hackers. When participant Rohit Chaudhary’s fellow teammates could not make it to the event, the YDN crew guided this Strategy Planner from Reprise Media to build his hack – an app for blood donation which helps you find blood donors in your locality. 

Agency Hack was held as a precursor to the prestigious Yahoo Big Idea Chair Awards 2012, which celebrates India’s most cutting-edge work in digital advertising. This year, the event drew a record 383 entries. “In the past, we have recognized innovation and excellence in digital advertising through the Big Idea Chair Awards. This year, with Agency Hack, we have gone a step further by encouraging innovation and giving agencies a playground to hack their ideas. Given the response, we would be looking to make this an annual event that builds on our commitment to digital,” says Nitin.

There was keen media interest, given the format of the event, with journalists stopping by to meet the teams. One of the first pieces of coverage appeared in the Hindustan Times, which is among the largest circulated English dailies in India. The paper’s tech commentator, N. Madhavan, hung out with the teams and shared the experience in his column. Read it online.