If there’s one topic guaranteed to raise the average media agency manager’s hackles, that topic is media auditors.
‘Old fashioned,’ ‘reliant on out-of-date media metrics,’ ‘ill-informed,’ ‘measuring the wrong thing’ are some of the phrases chucked around by agency CEOs who are themselves about as close to the planning, buying and reporting of campaigns as the average bank CEO is to his customer service center.
‘Not as smart as us’ seems to me to sum up the average agency’s attitude toward the average auditor.
But is this fair? No it isn’t. To (mis)quote a phrase, industries get the regulators they deserve. Are auditors able to measure the value of the latest digital stunt dreamed up by the agency? No, probably not. Is the agency able to put a value on the same stunt? Almost certainly not. Or, if they can, they generally don’t do so (and measuring success in terms of awards won doesn’t count).
What about the latest agency research tool? Has the auditor taken account of the insights generated? Does the auditor even understand it? I think those are the wrong questions. The right question is: does the planner understand it and has s/he used it/them?
Media auditors are important. They’re hired by advertisers to make sure that the agency is doing its job correctly. In an ideal world, where trust exists on all sides, they might be less important, but within an industry undermined by bad practices they’re pretty well essential.
Given that auditors aren’t going away anytime soon, the trick for the media agency is to work with the auditor, to see him or her as an ally. If the auditor understands what it is the agency is trying to do, then the auditor can support the claim to have done the job unbelievably well. If the auditor doesn’t understand (because no one has bothered to explain it), then guess what? S/he’ll fall back on the one thing that is unarguable – the price paid.
Whenever I hear an agency slagging off auditors I start to get suspicious. The inference is that no one has any right to examine what the agency has done. That no one else’s opinion on performance, aside from the agency’s that is, should count for anything. That the agency should not be judged by people who can at least make sense of the gobbledegook and the endless spreadsheets.
I know that clients should be fully conversant with the latest media technologies, but most really don’t have the time nor the expertise, nor to be honest the interest. So they ask an objective outsider to do that for them.
An auditor can be the agency’s best friend. Convince them of your overall wonderfulness, and you’re most of the way there in convincing the client.
Brian Jacobs spent over 35 years in advertising, media and research agencies including spells atLeo Burnett (UK, EMEA, International Media Director), Carat International (Managing Director), Universal McCann (EMEA Director) and Millward Brown (EVP, Global Media). He has worked in the UK, EMEA and globally out of the USA. His experience covers shifts from full-service ad agencies to media agencies; from traditional single-commercial-channel TV to multi-faceted digital channels; and from media planning to multi-disciplinary communication planning. Brian can be reached at email@example.com.
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