By Eamonn Badke
May 12, 2021 10:33:37 AM

Pool Auditing – What Is It And Should I Be Doing It?

Understanding the performance of your media investment should be a priority for any Media Director, but knowing what type of audit best suits your needs can be difficult.

Pool audits have been one of the main ways of tracking media investment for the last couple of decades. However, while they played a useful role when they were first developed, changes to the way media is bought makes them less useful.

A pool audit compares your campaign’s media performance against the market average. This can be done for both pricing and quality.

  • Pricing: comparing your campaign’s cost per unit with the average of the market.
  • Quality: KPI performance is measured against an average from selected brands in the pool.

Using these two scores enables auditors to calculate a final value gain/loss vs the market average. An ideal result would show your campaign’s media cost to be less than the market average and outperforming the pool on quality KPIs as well.

The six vantage points of media performance

In 2021, however, there are a number of issues with this approach:

First and foremost is the simple methodology of comparing prices against a market average. Using pools of prices paid for ad spots to create a simple number that all advertisers can be compared against is no longer appropriate even in the most traditional media market, TV. There have been massive changes to the way media is traded – most notably the arrival of programmatic – since this methodology was created. There are also factors that influence the price and effectiveness of media that this approach fails to consider.

The second issue with the pool is determining which advertisers make up the pool that your campaign is being compared against. This is an entirely subjective task and a lot of assumptions are made in this process. The pool can never be 100% objective.

The final issue is that pool audits tend to be highly time-consuming and TV-focused so it is rare to be able to compare all your media investment on the same basis. Even if you did, the time taken to process that data would mean that the results and recommendations would be less relevant because the agency would likely already be well into the next period of media buying.

At ID Comms we believe that there’s an auditing process that can provide greater accuracy and faster data gathering and assessment. We also seek to measure all media investment against business objectives and deliver recommendations for better, more optimised decisions. All this can be achieved through a combination of industry best practice value tracking, agency performance management and digital specific audits.