Transparency starts around the table
Making money from advertising changed back in the early 1970s – the day Paul Green set up the first media independent buying shop. It broke with convention; costs were lowered by rebating some of the commission.
The much-prized turnover, or billings, was now in the hands of the people directly trading with the media owners.
Today, we find ourselves in a world of distrust, smoke and mirrors, fake news, click fraud, invisible inventory, uncontrollable media placement. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Andrew Mortimer’s piece in Campaign on St Patrick’s day talked of the ‘vicious circle of cynicism’ that exists between advertisers and media agencies. He went on to say “Advertisers need to trust that the agencies are taking an objective position towards media owners or technology suppliers and not working with them to generate income in non-transparent ways”.
This ‘wake up and smell the coffee’ piece comes right on the heels of the ANA’s (Association of National Advertisers) report across the pond. Surely, it is naïve to think that this is a revelation some 40 years on, c’mon guys?
Everyone talks good practice and professes to adhere to the tenets of fiscal probity, but scratch beneath the glossy veneer and you’ll sometimes see a remuneration system that needs a bit of sanding down.
I could not run a business that operates on 0.5%, 1% or even 2% commission. I don’t know anybody that can. It is simply commercial suicide to try.
Do marketing directors really think they have negotiated a favourable deal for their brand by screwing the agency down to a level of commission which means the only way of running and resourcing the account will be to leave it to juniors? Are they really going to get a motivated team up for the challenge because the rewards are there? Do they really think the money is going to be invested wisely, objectives over rebates?
As one of the few remaining independents left in the UK, we plan and buy against the brief. To do this requires complete neutrality.
We do not enter in to ‘agency deals’. Indeed, we have walked away from attractive pitches where we can’t compete. And, when I say compete, it is with reference to delivering a quality media planning and buying service at a fair and transparent price.
That’s why when we sit down with clients we agree terms from the start based on the task in hand and negotiate a remuneration package that is mutually acceptable. It is that simple.
The media buying industry is doing itself an injustice. It has been wedded to wheeling and dealing, ducking and diving, for so long that, in this new transparent, whiter than white world, it looks and acts like a second-rate commodity broker in a cheap suit.
Time for change. Time for transparency.