Ideas in the context of advertising have been about a communication platform to tell stories about a brand. Stories are a useful way of evoking emotions. When consumers have an emotional reaction, they buy into those stories and are more likely to, well, buy your stuff. The problem is that everyone is telling stories nowadays. Even if you have a good story to tell about your brand, chances are that it’ll get lost. That’s where I believe that the very definition of the "idea" needs to evolve.
Rei, who is Chief Creative Officer at AKQA makes a good point in this essay. Everybody has been saying for years that advertising is changing. I think it has already changed dramatically and some businesses are finding it hard to adjust. And by businesses I mean both clients and agencies. Clients struggle coping with technology and the impact the Internet and social media have had on the way consumers behave. Agencies struggle to let go of the good old days.
But change is inevitable. It's happened. And it will continue at an increasingly rapid pace.
I think Rei encapsulated the evolution of the traditional "idea" perfectly with "Idea = Emotion x Function"