David Indo
By David Indo
Aug 24, 2014 3:57:42 PM

How To Have A Great Relationship With Your Media Agency


In the last of the four-part series, ID Comms' Joint CEO David Indo looks at transforming behaviours to maximise the value of your media agency - and outlines eight steps to a more valuable relationship.

In life we know the way we behave influences how others respond to us. If we behave well, most people recognise that and return the favour. The result is a more harmonious, more beneficial relationship.

The same is true of the relationship between an advertiser and their media agency. But while politeness and courtesy go a long way there are also professional acts and attitudes that influence the value achieved from this relationship.

A good media client adopts four key principles in their quest to maximise media value. They see media as an important lever for business growth, they clearly define the role media should play, they establish a process that enables media to be effective and they manage their chosen media agency in a way that gets the best out of them.

Collectively, ID Comms calls this approach Productive Media Governance and in our experience best practice in media governance can enhance overall media value by at least 30%, through access to the best talent and innovation, working in the right way and being rewarded properly.

For clients that don't currently have a strong and established media governance platform but are looking for significant media value improvements, we encourage them to consider the following eight step process - four that involve their own organisation and four that are more outward looking.

Step 1 - Understand the areas that need to be improved. By conducting an assessment or analysis of the current media management process, advertisers will be able to see what they need to address. A simple internal audit looking at the state of the contract, the briefing process and gauging the temperature of the agency relationship will identify the areas that require improvement and also provide benchmarks from which to measure on-going improvement.

Step 2 - Be clear what media should do. Define your ambition for media and the role that media will play within your marketing organisation. It's critical that this mission is linked to a set of practical business KPIs and that these directly reflect the organisation's overarching marketing vision. Having a clear vision through which to frame every conversation means you will always be pushing in the same direction.

Step 3 - Define media success. Once you know the role that media will play, its important to set the objectives and benchmarks against which all activity will be measured. This will not only provide focus internally but it will give the agency a clear set of criteria by which they will know they and their output will be measured.

Step 4 - Secure internal alignment. It's critical to define who your key stakeholders are internally and align them on the overall media vision and the KPIs. This is also a good moment to assess the media skills of the team, to ensure that there is a basic level of understanding and that the appropriate capabilities are in place to enable effective media management across the entire marketing structure.

Step 5 - Make sure you are working with right agency. Your media agency should be capable of not only effectively managing your current media requirements, but just as importantly, you should have the confidence that they have the ability and desire to help you evolve your media demands from where they are now to where they will need to be in three years time.

The more progressive advertisers like Coca-Cola and Nike are constantly challenging their respective agencies to push them to remain ahead of the curve and consequently ahead of their competition.

Step 6 - Reward value creation. A good team works together not just because they like each other but also because each side is rewarded for the value they create. An agency management team will happily provide access to the agency's best talent, tools, insights and innovation if they feel they are being treated fairly and rewarded properly.

You need to establish an agency remuneration structure that is accountable and appropriate to your specific needs and that is deigned to rewards exceptional performance and value creation.

Step 7 - Make sure your contract is up to date, relevant and fit for purpose. Any contract more than two years old will, most probably, be out of date. Ensure that your rebate policy matches you current spending habits, that the scope of work is relevant, that the remuneration policy and detailed named resource reflects your present day approach and that any cost and trading guarantees are consistent with the latest position your agency has secured.

Step 8 - Establish a robust media process. A strong media client will work to a clear process designed to deliver the most informed briefings, provide considered and constructive feedback on strategy and then constantly monitor and optimise throughout implementation.

The fundamental principle of Productive Media Governance is that you can measure incremental improvements in media productivity over time. This does require an element of benchmarking where hard improvements can be measured, coupled with an ability to evaluate soft metrics such as agency service performance.

Establishing good media governance takes time, a disciplined approach and an internal stakeholder team that buys into the philosophy thatmedia should be seen as an investment for growth rather than a cost to be managed down.

Those brands that get it right and behave in a way that encourages collaboration, whilst also rewarding and incentivising behind aligned goals, will undoubtedly make their media disproportionately more effective than those that don't.

This article was originally published on MediaTel's NewsLine on 9-Jun-2014