Publisher of The Media magazine and initiator of The MOST Awards, Sandra Gordon, looks at the achievements of implementing these awards that have become vital to the industry.
Four years ago media owners were in a funk. The recession showed no sign of abating and the first budget items to be chopped by companies were advertising and sponsorship. A sense of gloom descended on marketing and sales people and their friends working in media agencies. The length of the recession and the depth of the budget cuts were no laughing matter.
In the midst of this, the launch of the MOST Awards was announced. The funky sheep and logo coupled with well thought, thorough research criteria and weighting tools, served to lift spirits and sparked great conversations. The research went into market in May 2009 and at that point I had no idea whether MOST would be embraced and the comprehensive questionnaires completed.
Our timing, it transpired, was perfect. Agencies and media owners welcomed the initiative and over 200 surveys were submitted. The event was a resounding success. We expected 250 guests and 330 rocked up. The following year I introduced another leg to the awards: media sales and marketing people judging media agencies. It was only fair and it closes the loop.
I am often asked whether the awards have been successful. Judging on participation alone, I think I would have to say yes. The fact that over 200 media agents and media owners take time to fill in the questionnaires indicates that everyone is taking this very seriously.And this year, we needed to move to a bigger venue to cater for over 800 guests.
Sponsorship was not an option for me at the start. I prefer to take the risk myself, build the brand, then try to claw back the investment. Now, I am thrilled with our spread of committed sponsors representing both agencies and media owners.
There is another measure of success, a more important one, based on our primary objective to improve understanding, communication and service levels among sales and marketing staff on the one hand and planners, buyers and strategists on the other. By improving understanding and service levels, advertisers benefit and ultimately increase advertising spend.
The call for presentations on the results increases every year. Recipients welcome the depth and detail provided. It enables them to pinpoint precisely where their teams are performing best and highlights where action needs to be taken to improve their ranking.
Many companies are using our criteria to set key performance attributes for their staff. Others are using their ranking in the survey to incentivise performance and some are even appointing external consultants and coaches to develop training programmes.
All of this activity has to be good for our industry. I will not stop consulting media leaders on the efficacy of the research criteria, weighting, methodology, the event and the sheep.
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PHOTO: Richard Proctor (Vizeum) and Mary-Anne Larkin (Primedia)