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Media.Monks SVP of Global Media, Melissa Wisehart, argues that media has a major role to play in ensuring that marketing procurement and brand marketing align on their different goals from the outset of a campaign.
Avoiding Marketing Procurement
I’ve had clients try to circumvent this by doing everything they can to avoid going through procurement altogether, and while that may help in the short term, it only leads to more problems later.
By Melissa Wisehart, SVP, Global Media at Media.Monks
Every so often I’m asked what got me into media. The answer is simple: media practitioners are the great super connectors between marketing strategy and creative, fulfilling a crucial role in ensuring success for both. We have the power (and the dollars) to help our clients achieve desired outcomes, and with that power comes incredible responsibility.
But throughout the years, I’ve realized that media practitioners, brand marketers and marketing procurement are often speaking different languages. Case in point: ANA released a report last summer showing that 54% of procurement executives speak positively about their relationship with agencies, but only 15% of agencies said the same of their relationship with marketing procurement.
Clearly there’s a disconnect, and this lack of alignment inhibits each of our ability to achieve the goals we desire. But remember: as super connectors, brands can lean on media teams to bridge the gap, build transparency, and home in on the targets that truly matter.
It’s time to get procurement up to speed
This will probably sound familiar: you’ve just spent nine months in the pitching process and built an innovative and transformative new approach to help your client revolutionize their business—only for procurement to pull it apart and bring you back to legacy, tactical elements that are counter to the plan you have built together.
Like talking about “CPM reductions” and inflation mitigation year on year vs. a revolutionary media program that will look nothing like the last media program you had that delivered dismal business results (hence the search for a new agency!). I’ve had clients try to circumvent this by doing everything they can to avoid going through procurement altogether, and while that may help in the short term, it only leads to more problems later.
This is because procurement isn’t the issue, and you can’t really blame them for approaching agreements from a different mindset. Marketers and procurement people are operating from two different worlds and are compensated according to different sets of criteria.
The first step to bridging those worlds together is education. The media industry hasn’t done a great job of educating clients’ teams overall, but especially procurement.
Agencies are incentivized against informing procurement on the ins and outs of media, but that’s a big disservice because ideally everyone should understand how media can be used to meet broad business goals (and some of the lesser talked about, darker side of media that can look “cheap” but is ultimately ineffective).
It’s media’s task to make both worlds happy, so let’s embrace that by involving procurement early on and getting everyone on the same page.
Set expectations to build relationships across teams
So you’ve involved procurement—now what? One of my favorite things to do is walk procurement through how an agency might develop a media plan to hit a particular objective, in both positive and more nefarious ways.
For example, want to put a CPM objective in our contract? Cool—I’ll tell you how that might be in conflict with the revenue goals the media team is incentivized on, or all of the unintended consequences you might experience if an agency tries to “game” the system just to meet that vanity objective. Or perhaps it’s walking you through the ways your current last-click model could be leaving major revenue on the table—and a way we can help prove that.
I’ve found that procurement is eager to learn this stuff because agencies and marketers have avoided having these conversations with them for so long. This goes beyond simply explaining the incongruencies between a cost sheet and a brief; it’s about building foundational relationships between media, marketing and procurement to ensure goals align.
And that’s really the benefit of this process: in addition to procurement learning about the intricacies of a complex media landscape, we get to better learn about their own expectations. What’s procurement’s bonus based on? What executive KPIs are they looking for? Let’s talk about it and find ways to achieve it. Meanwhile, procurement should put skin in the game, too. I like to hold ourselves accountable to a performance incentive—now that’s speaking procurement’s language.
Plan toward new targets and outcomes
Giving everyone a seat at the table goes a long way in helping build confidence and helps surface up opportunities to drive outcomes across the business. That’s important because as an industry, we need to have more in-depth, business-oriented conversations to develop new targets that truly drive the business forward, especially in our current economic climate.
But understanding what a procurement team is incentivized on, as well as your end client, can put agencies at the epicenter of helping connect the dots and make them allies, not adversaries. While a procurement team is often incentivized to provide savings, they’ll often default to things like unit-based pricing (think CPM, hourly rate on staff, margin, etc.).
But “efficiency” isn’t the same thing as “effectiveness.” Helping to shape agreements based on outcomes, that can prove overall potential savings for procurement but yield greater impact for your marketing clients, is often a winning combination.
Tackle the hard conversations
Unfortunately we often end up with defaulting to really poorly constructed contracts, KPIs or measurement solutions that are fully divorced from the business strategy. And unfortunately we do this because it’s easy, or people aren’t able to help clients connect these complex issues in simple, plain language.
We as an industry must do better here. It’s the industry’s role—and distinct opportunity—to help clients achieve desired outcomes by building transparency, aligning goals and educating all parties involved, especially procurement. So let’s invite the tough conversations that help us get there
While the points above can seem difficult, they actually solve a lot of the problems you run into downstream when teams aren’t aligned. A key aspect of the modern marketing mix is being able to adapt business outcomes, and when teams are working together in partnership, everyone can work together to bring these goals to the fore. Enter the super connectors who can help.