The SpaceStation has come up tops in this year’s MOST Awards survey.
Achieving a total of 5 006 votes across 116 media owners in five categories, this year’s MOST Awards survey for media owners confirmed the high standard of service excellence among some of the consistent top performers in our industry and also unearthed some new entrants into the top rankings.
For the first time since its inception in 2009, the overall winner of the MOST Awards has come from the digital category, which has grown in awareness and stature in the last few years. There is little doubt that digital has well and truly established itself as a mainstream channel in the media industry. With just 120 votes and one eligible winner in 2009, digital has grown significantly year-on-year, garnering 699 votes and 11 eligible media owners in 2013.
The growth of the category has been driven largely by advertiser interest and support, as well as the emergence of new players. In 2009, there were 11 digital media owners listed in the MOST Awards survey. In 2013 there were 31. Of equal significance is the improvement of ‘service criteria’ scores by digital media owners over the years. While in 2009 there was only one media owner adjudged by voters as ‘making the grade’ in terms of service delivery, in 2013 the digital category achieved the highest average criteria weighting score compared to the other media categories measured. It is evident from this result that digital players now understand that it is not enough simply to own a digital media brand, but that it is more important to up their game to meet the standard of service that advertisers and agencies expect.
The SpaceStation has been a regular top performer in the annual MOST Awards survey, showing that there is no substitute for class and consistency. In 2009, then known as 24.com, the company topped the digital category list. In 2010 and 2011 it retained this position and was pipped into second position in 2012. In 2013, The SpaceStation improved on its previous best of sixth position on the ‘best-of-the-best’ table by taking the overall honours. The SpaceStation was rated most highly by voters in the ‘knowledge of own brands’ and ‘service delivery’ criteria. They, again, showed that the traditional components of service are still the most relevant.
The second position in the digital category was a new entrant, Demographica. Specialising in digital database marketing and lead generation, it is clear the diversification of products and services has played a part in the growth of the digital category. Demographica was especially highly rated in the service criteria ‘knowledge of own brands’ and ‘involvement’.
Newly branded Times Media LIVE, owner of digital brands within Times Media Group, achieved third position in the digital category this year, while last year’s category winner, Habari Media, slipped to fourth place in 2013.
There was a significant shake-up within the TV/cinema category in 2013, with the two cinema sales agents, Popcorn and Cinemark, taking first and second place respectively. Category winner Popcorn has steadily and significantly improved its service criteria scores year-on-year, with an overall average score of 7.54 in 2009 and an overall average score of 8.27 in 2013, achieving a nine percent overall average service criteria score improvement and earning a respectable seventh position on the overall MOST Awards ranking table in 2013.
Perennial achievers Cinemark and DStv Media Sales were ranked second and third in the TV/cinema category respectively. While Cinemark’s 2013 result has been a consistently good one for the media owner (third in category in 2010-2011 and second in category in 2012), DStv Media Sales will no doubt be disappointed at its ranking, relative to its own high standards and its MOST Awards performance in recent years (second in category 2009, first in category 2010-2012 and first overall in 2011).
In assessing the criteria that were regarded by voters as the most important measures of service excellence among buyers of media space in the industry, the usual suspects of ‘knowledge of own brands’ and ‘service excellence’ were again rated first and second, as they were in 2012. It is evident that these particular service criteria should become the focus of media owners wanting to occupy the top positions in the MOST Awards. In assessing where some of the previous top performers in the MOST Awards may have lost ground, some media owners incurred significant year-on-year score declines against the criteria ‘knowledge of client brands’ and ‘empowerment’.
It is no coincidence that the category and overall MOST Awards winners each year have achieved consistently high scores for all service criteria. Conversely, a common theme arising from the MOST Awards research is the degree of irritation caused by media owners approaching agency-represented advertisers directly to solicit advertising support. However, it is evident that it is not the direct approach by media owners per se that is the primary cause of irritation but rather the perceived intention by some media owners to circumvent the media due diligence performed by media agencies to assess the appropriateness and strategic relevance of the media brand or proposal concerned.
The radio category in 2013 produced no surprises. Commendably, Mediamark Radio, previously Radmark, has been the best performer in category since 2009 and has again topped the category in 2013, making it the only media owner to have topped a MOST Awards category list every year since the award’s inception in 2009. This result is especially commensurate considering some changes to its top personnel and a brand name change in recent years. The second and third positions in the radio category were occupied by Primedia Broadcasting and The Media Connection, who swopped their 2012 positions. These three players in the radio category have consistently been rated as achieving high levels of service excellence by their customers, an admirable achievement.
The Out of Home (OOH) category in this year’s MOST Awards saw last year’s overall winner, Provantage, relegated to a disappointing fifth position in the category. Top of the list in the OOH category in 2013 was 2009-2011 winner Continental Outdoor Media, no doubt stung into action after losing its top position in 2012. This media owner was rated highly across all of the MOST Awards service criteria, but especially well in ‘service delivery’ compared to previous years. The second spot in the OOH category was awarded to last year’s Lamb Award recipient Michelle Munro and Partners. It is encouraging to see smaller media owner sales operations being recognised as able to compete head-to-head against their larger counterparts when it comes to service delivery.
On a related note, washroom advertising sales company, The Letter Corporation, should be commended for a very strong deck of service criteria scores which, had it received a few more votes, would have positioned this company at the top of the OOH ranking table this year. Third spot in the OOH category in 2013 was occupied by last year’s third in category, Mamela Media. This again gave credence to that fact that with the MOST Awards, one does not need to be the biggest to be the best.
As usual, the strongly contested newspapers category saw fierce jostling for position among the regular MOST Awards top performers in the category. Last year’s category winner, Times Media Group, was once again ranked in first position and a well-deserved second overall, with last year’s runner up, NAB Caxton, again occupying second spot. Last year’s fourth in the newspaper category, The Independent Newspaper Company (The INC), moved up a spot to third at the expense of Ads24.
In the magazines category, last year’s third placed Ndalo Media was ranked first this year and third overall, a very good result for this small, dynamic sales team. The second spot in 2013 went to Caxton Magazines, which must be wondering why and how it has been perennially pipped to this position (Caxton Magazines was ranked second in this category in both 2011 and 2012). Third spot in this year’s MOST Awards magazines category was awarded to the Media24 central sales team (first in 2011 and 2012).
MOST Awards for Media Owners 2013 overall rankings:
Lamb Award for Media Owners 2013:
The Lamb Award was introduced in 2012 to recognise a media owner who, due to service specialisation or narrow scope of market coverage, was unable to garner the minimum of 30 votes in order to qualify for a MOST Award. In order to qualify for this award, a media owner must have received between 25 and 29 votes.
In 2013 and previous years, some so-called small media owners secured sufficient votes to compete in the big league and, indeed, compete to win. This year’s Lamb Award winner was Tractor Outdoor from the OOH category. This newcomer to the MOST Awards secured 28 votes, achieving an average mean MOST Awards score of 7.71, scoring particularly well against the criteria ‘service delivery’.
Media Owner Rising Star 2013:
The Rising Star Award recognises a young person who in the past year has exhibited traits such as leadership, intelligence and innovation, giving a sense that he/she is full of good ideas and consistently faces up to challenges through innovation and passion. Most usually, this person is considered destined to lead and to transform the industry.
Once again, and for the fourth consecutive year, Jacques du Preez, leader of Provantage, has been recognised by his media agency and advertising peers as the “best of breed”.
Some of the reasons voters gave for his nomination this year included:
“Constantly evolving the outdoor industry, bringing new innovations to the market”;
“Jacques continues to innovate in media and is willing to take risks in order to grow his business as well as his clients’ business. He recognises opportunities and involves himself in these”;
“His ability to stand his ground, despite the challenge of facing really tough, ruthless clients. And his ability to constantly thread through innovative ideas that work for client”;
“Somebody who gives it their all to be the best that they can be”;
“I cannot think of anyone else who has impacted on the industry as much as Jacques”;
“Goes the extra mile, over delivers and very accommodating”;
“Involved and a strong leader”; and
“Great ethics and changing the landscape of the media industry through the innovation.”
While this is truly an outstanding achievement, one cannot help but wonder where other future young media owner leaders, thinkers and innovators might be?
Media Owner Legend – Lifetime Achiever 2013:
The MOST Awards Legend – Lifetime Achiever is a person who has been a true and genuine leader over many years. This person would have taken the industry to new heights through a significant belief and commitment to the industry, and inspirationally mentored and guided young newcomers in the field. This MOST Awards Legend – Lifetime Achiever is considered truly worthy of the title ’legend’.
This year’s MOST Media Owner Legend – Lifetime Achiever is Gill Randall, joint managing director of NAB Caxton. Over many years she has committed herself to building service excellence in the industry through active membership of industry representative bodies, mentorship and leadership. It is no coincidence that NAB Caxton was recognised and rated as the best overall media owner in the MOST Awards 2010 under Randall’s leadership.
In motivating Randall for the coveted MOST Media Owner Legend – Lifetime Achiever Award, voters described her as follows:
“Gilly is a legend, her passion for her titles and her willingness to engage with clients to make good content is something that has kept her titles going even in very trying times”;
“Gill Randall is probably the most understated media owner who always has the clients’ interests at heart, is a pleasure to deal with, understands the industry and her area, and can be contacted to solve your problems anytime”;
“She is a constant in this industry, smart and knows this industry inside and out. She has continuously contributed when needed and she is a great leader”;
“Charming, down to earth, truly understands retail and is passionate about her business and that of her clients. She is a people’s person, always optimistic with a can-do attitude and personally involved with her sales staff”; and
“Through her personal involvement she has created a NAB family that stands together.”
Randall is a worthy Legend – Lifetime Achiever.
MOST Awards for Media Agencies:
The MOST Awards for media agencies in 2013 revealed that, as in 2010-2012, media owners consider a media agency’s knowledge of its clients’ brands as the most important performance criteria. It is evident from the survey results that an agency’s ability to articulate its clients’ communication and media objectives effectively in briefs to its media owner partners is considered the most important performance deliverable.
Similarly, as in previous years of the MOST Awards for media agencies survey, the performance criteria ‘knowledge of media’, ‘communication’ and ‘professionalism’ were ranked second to fourth respectively in order of importance by media owners.
On a related note, the most common irritation among media owners with respect to their business relationships with media agencies relates to their lack of quality access to media decision-makers. While this is certainly not a new barrier that may be compromising healthy and constructive agency and media owner relationships, it has been recurring theme in the MOST Awards research over the years.
As with the MOST Awards for media owners in 2013, a significant development has been the increase in number of media agencies operating as specialists in the digital category, again reinforcing the growth trend in this channel segment. Specifically, while in 2012 there were seven digital specialist agencies listed and rated in the MOST Awards survey, in 2013 there were 44.
MOST Awards for Media Agencies:
From this year’s MOST Awards survey results, it is clear that The MediaShop Johannesburg has set the standard of performance to which its competitors should strive. Once again and for the third year running, The MediaShop Johannesburg was rated as the best media agency in the full service category and the best media agency overall in 2013. Achieving high performance criteria ratings across the board has been the key to success for this obviously ‘well-balanced’ agency. One of its key differentiating factors has been The MediaShop’s ability to forge sincere and mutually respectful relationships with its media owner partners.
Numerous comments from MOST Awards voters relating to ‘open communication’, ‘access’, ‘partnership’ and ‘respect’ were mentioned in favour of the agency. The full service agencies rated second and third in this year’s MOST Awards survey were OMD Johannesburg and Mindshare respectively, both of which occupied the same positions in 2012. Voters rated OMD particularly highly against the performance criterion ‘professionalism’ while Mindshare was highly rated against ‘knowledge of client brands and the marketing landscape’.
Specialist Agencies 2013:
In the specialist media agency category, the 2013 MOST Awards winner was Mediology (third in 2012). This agency particularly impressed voters with its ‘knowledge of client brands’ and ‘professionalism’. One voter’s comments neatly summed up this agency’s appeal: “They have a small team that takes a personal touch to their clients’ brands; they are friendly and caring and have good relationships with media owners”. The second-rated specialist media agency was Nota Bene Johannesburg, which makes a return into the top three since 2011 (second), scoring particularly well against the performance criteria ‘knowledge of media and the media landscape’. No other media agency in the specialist category garnered enough votes to be eligible for a MOST Award.
MOST Awards for Media Agencies 2013 Overall Rankings
Lamb Award for Media Agencies 2013:
The Lamb Award for Media Agencies was fiercely contested by four agencies, all receiving more than 25 votes but less than the 30 minimum required to qualify for a MOST Award. Last year’s MOST Awards specialist media agency winner, PHD Cape Town, evidently a ‘hot-shop on the block’, was the recipient of this year’s coveted Lamb Award for Media Agencies. Last year’s second-best specialist media agency, Alphabet Soup, was again in the mix in 2013 as was the overall Media Agency winner in 2010, Vizeum Johannesburg.
Lamb Award for Media Agencies 2013 overall rankings:
Media Agency Rising Star 2013:
The Media Agency Rising Star was explained in the MOST Awards survey as someone who should be nominated on the basis that he/she is likely to rise above the rest and is already displaying signs of leadership. The Rising Star should act as a spokesperson for media agencies in the future, leading the way through the hairy challenges to be faced. This person should be destined to lead and transform the industry; he/she will be hard working, full of good ideas and consistently face up to challenges through innovation and passion.
The 2013 Media Agency Rising Star was the 2010 recipient of the same award: Chris Botha, group managing director of The MediaShop South Africa. A popular and unanimous choice, Botha is clearly considered by his peers to have all the character traits required of a future industry leader. Some of the notable motivations for Botha’s nominations included:
“Chris Botha has earned people’s respect in the industry. He’s worked at the bottom and has climbed the ladder one step at a time”;
“He embodies the values true to the ‘old school’ of media – openness, transparency and complete understanding of the industry”;
“Chris leads an amazing agency, and is actively involved with clients, media owners and the industry as a whole”;
“A good leader who is involved with his staff, brands and media owners. Easy to communicate with and a good outlook on business in general”;
“Despite rising to the top incredibly quickly, Chris still continues to improve his game constantly. He makes a significant contribution to the industry in general and is an inspiration to many young people in the media industry. Despite his age, his contribution has been legendary”;
“Chris is always approachable and open in business. His dealings are always fair and professional. Chris is also very knowledgeable about the media business and willing to share his insights”;
“He has integrity and a real passion for his work. He always has time for a quick discussion and seems to take a real interest in the people with whom he works and deals. Well respected and a lovely man”; and
“He is not yet of the age to actually be a legend, but his way of interacting with his media owners and clients is really a true reflection of how a managing director should be leading the industry.”
Media Agency Legend – Lifetime Achiever 2013:
The MOST Awards Media Agency Legend – Lifetime Achiever is someone who is an enduring leader with an admirable reputation. The Lifetime Achiever should be known to execute his/her work with integrity, passion, foresight and insight and to display traits such as humility, approachability and genuine commitment to the greater good and future health of the media industry.
The 2013 recipient of the MOST Awards Media Agency Legend – Lifetime Achiever is CEO of the MEC Group South Africa, Michelle Meyjes. A stalwart of the industry and someone who is prepared to speak her mind for the greater good of the media industry, Meyjes is a proven leader and deserved to take her place alongside industry legends and past winners Gordon Patterson (2010), Virginia Hollis (2011) and Gordon Muller (2012). Meyjes is described by her peers as someone who:
“Is an honest, approachable leader, with integrity, passion, insight and brilliant knowledge of the industry”;
“Is a leader with a fantastic work ethic and a consummate professional”;
“Has always put her ‘heart and soul’ into her role. She has an amazing knowledge of the media landscape and genuinely values and appreciates her media owner partners”; and
“Displays an incredible work ethic, with drive, focus and total commitment to her clients, staff and the industry.”
Meyjes is the perfect choice for the 2013 Media Agency Legend – Lifetime Achiever Award.
The full findings of the 2013 MOST research can be bought here.
Brad Aigner is managing director of Freshly Ground Insights, the independent research company that conducted The MOST Awards research.