Tom Denford
By Tom Denford
May 19, 2017 10:10:09 AM

The ‘Rush’ Of Advertising Finance


A look ahead to the ANA’s annual gathering of marketing procurement leaders at the Advertising Financial Management conference in San Diego. 

I’m heading west. There’s no gold rush, and none likely as I choose to spend a week mingling with the most powerful marketing procurement leaders in the US.  

“Wisdom is better than silver or gold” as Bob Marley (that well-known authority on marketing procurement) once said. I’ll settle for that.   

The ANA’s Advertising Financial Management conference is something that I’ve made a must attend for the last five years because it uniquely brings together some of the most influential and innovative marketing procurement stakeholders.

As a group, they are frequently given a bad rep, accused by agencies of ignoring quality by driving down fees and “totally destroying the advertising business” (an actual quote, not my words).

I’ve been a rather staunch advocate of marketing procurement (when it’s good). Category strategies for media, particularly, have brought some much-needed structure, discipline and diligence to a media industry wrangling with complexity and opacity. Procurement strategies for media have at the least brought some strategic thinking to media, when perhaps it has become very transactional. Good procurement leaders, of course, are passionate about supplier relationships and well-being as much as driving value.

At this year’s AFM, speakers include procurement leaders from advertising giants Ford, General Mills, Jack in the Box, Jaguar Land Rover, Mattel, Fidelity Investments and IBM.

For the last couple of years, the lack of transparency in media has been the dominant topic of conversation for attendees at many ANA conferences. But while media is still a hot topic, media agencies attending will be relieved to see an equal amount of attention focused on the issue of production.

Download ID Comms 2017 Global Media terms of Business Report

The Department of Justice is currently knee deep in an investigation into production transparency and this year’s conference will hear ANA’s own interim findings and recommendations for marketers to ensure they can clearly understand how and where their money is being spent in this area.

Also being debated will be the findings of the latest US research into agency compensation models. Following our work in recent years with The World Federation of Advertisers to publish a white paper on performance-based payment models, ID Comms believes that the closer the interests of the client and its agency are aligned, the more likely they are to work together.

It’s such a simple principle, that two parties with aligned outcomes can work together collaboratively, it is a wonder how so many advertisers struggle with agencies whose motivations and behaviors lie outside of driving clear business outcomes for the client.

One session I’m particularly interested in the conversation between Jaguar Land Rover and its agency Spark44. The agency is a 50:50 joint venture between the agency’s management and the client designed to boost value, transparency and accountability for the business. It’s not the model for every brand but it shows the extent of the innovation that can be applied to client-agency relationships, especially when an agency can anticipate the evolving needs of the advertiser.

The issue of media transparency isn’t going to go away in 2017, however, and the ANA conference could (hopefully) be the first step to re-establishing cordial relations between the client marketing body, the ANA, and its agency counterpart, the 4A’s, on the sensitive media topic. The AFM conference will be the first public outing of new 4A’s CEO Marla Kaplowitz, who you may note comes from a media background (six years as CEO of media agency MEC across North America) in contrast to her predecessor Nancy Hill who perhaps struggled to engage in the media debate with the ANA as it wasn’t her sweet spot.

Look out for Lou Paskalis from Bank of America, recently named as one of AdWeek’s “most indispensable professionals across marketing, media, advertising, and technology” (blimey). Lou oversees the company’s substantial media investment across traditional, digital, and social media channels and leads the media analytics practice.

Another session well worth hearing will be superstar analyst and friend of ID Comms, Brian Wieser, from Pivotal. Brian will be opining on issues such as media, programmatic and the changing environment facing the big holding companies. For a smart take on the future of advertising there aren’t many better places to go. Likely to be fast and fiery, don’t miss it.

So there you have it. A four-day expedition to the Southern California coast, to surf the carpeted conference hallways of the Grand Hyatt and soak up the rays of procurement wisdom from the world’s largest brands. It’s gold. I’m in.

Follow me on twitter for the updates form the conference #ANAAFM @DenfordTom