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By Laetitia Zinetti Diard
A Viewpoint Report from Ebiquity details the critical considerations in selecting the right agency partner
Agency selection is an art and a science – an art because it demands stakeholder management and personal relationships, a science because it requires rigorous application of structured methodology.
What’s at stake
The stakes are high for today’s marketers. Many brand owners are adjusting their agency operating model to ensure they’re well prepared for innovations in the media and marketing ecosystem. The rewards for choosing the right partners are significant in terms of building and growing brands. Competitive edge today comes from agile, flexible and collaborative ways of working.
The process of agency selection is about more than just beauty-parading agencies and appointing new partners. It covers diverse topics, including advertising technology, governance and accountability, and the skill sets of both client and agency teams.
Agency selection is an art and a science – an art because it demands stakeholder management and personal relationships, a science because it requires rigorous application of structured methodology
This comprehensive Viewpoint Paper covers
Increasingly, major global brands are reviewing and changing agency partners, particularly media agencies of record, and they’re doing this more often. This trend began in 2015, a year that media commentators dubbed ‘Mediapalooza’, during which an estimated $30bn of global media spend was reviewed.
Advertisers reviewing media accounts included P&G, Unilever, L’Oréal, VW and Johnson & Johnson.
This was followed by the publication in 2016 of the US Association of National Advertisers (ANA)’s report from K2 Intelligence, which produced the first evidence of non-transparent practices in the US media market. The ANA followed this up with a series of recommendations for advertisers looking to secure increased transparency in their media trading, written by Ebiquity and their specialist contract compliance business, FirmDecisions.
Concerns about transparency have multiplied in the last couple of years. They include ad fraud, ad misplacement and fake news. They also include Facebook overstating reach and audience sizes, and the quality and objectivity of performance data provided by the world’s two biggest advertising platforms – Facebook and Google – both of which operate as so-called ‘walled gardens’. These concerns have kept the spotlight on advertiser agency partnerships and ensured that major reviews remain commonplace. Today, at least $20bn of media spend is reviewed during a typical year.
As more money is spent on digital advertising, increasingly programmatically, data from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) has shown low levels of satisfaction with the media trading ecosystem. Just 29% of advertisers in a 2017 poll said they were satisfied with the transparency offered by their agency trading desk, and 90% were actively reviewing programmatic contracts.
Research published in June 2018 by the WFA found that almost three-quarters of major multinationals are currently reviewing agency arrangements, keen to understand if they have the right mix of agencies and capabilities in their external partners.
Ebiquity’s own research shows that the leading reasons why advertisers look for new agency partners are price improvement, and strategic vision and expertise.
You may also like to download: 10 Strategic and operational principles for agency selection report
There is a consensus that the agency selection process should not be entered lightly. Agency selection is about very much more than managing pitches, beauty-parading agencies, awarding contracts and starting new relationships. Choosing the right agency demands considerable involvement and engagement from across the business – from marketing, media, procurement, finance and legal.
Brands should set clear objectives and embark on the process of agency review only if they are prepared to invest the time and resources required to make it successful.
In this Viewpoint paper, Ebiquity looks at the most important factors advertisers should consider when reviewing their agency partners. We pose the questions advertisers should ask themselves about each factor.
And we give our recommendations – informed by years of being the market leader in agency selection advisory – on the steps advertisers should take when addressing each factor.
About the author
Laetitia Zinetti Diard is Managing Director, Continental Europe, Ebiquity. She has more than 20 years’ experience planning and implementing media and marketing strategies, with senior roles client-side at both Qantas and Nissan. She is based in Ebiquity’s Paris, France office.
The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Marketing Procurement iQ or imply endorsement from the publisher