This year, the MOST Awards survey had the highest number of respondents ever, demonstrating that recognition of those in the media industry is appreciated and much-needed. Brad Aigner of Freshly Ground Insights gives deep background on the results.
As has been done since the first MOST Awards Survey in 2009, over an 11 week period, an online self-completion interview method was used to collect the research data. The survey targeted the MOST Awards for Media Owners (MO) and the MOST Awards for Media Agencies (MA).
The MO survey is targeted exclusively at stakeholders in media agencies and corporates who are directly involved in the planning and buying of advertising media space. The MA survey is targeted exclusively at media owner employees who are directly involved in the selling of media space to media agencies. Eligible participants must have had direct and frequent contact with the media owner sales teams or media agencies whom they selected to rate.
MOST for Media Owners
Respondents ranked specific performance criteria in order of personal importance.
In the MO survey, the six criteria are:
- Knowledge of own brands and the media landscape
- Knowledge of client brands and the market landscape
- Service delivery
- Authority (previously Empowerment)
In 2015, ‘authority’ replaced ’empowerment’ to prevent misinterpretation in a context other than advertising sales performance.
Interestingly, in 2014, ‘knowledge of own brands and the media landscape’ was strongly considered to be most important, but this year ‘service delivery’ was considered equally as important. The message is clear: Know your stuff and deliver! It seems that media agencies are placing more importance on creative ideas and active contributions to the industry by their media owner partners.
One respondent said, “They tell me stuff about their brands that I don’t know and am unable to find. Also, they invest in their staff for training and in their own market research to stay more informed and knowledgeable than anybody else in the industry.”
An important theme is the requirement that media owner sales executives display good knowledge of how the media industry works and and how their brands fit into a broader context. For example, a media representative selling a radio brand should understand how his/her brand measures up against competitor radio stations and against other media brands such as television, print or the internet that target the same consumer market segments.
- Service delivery, broad in scope, consists of:
- Preparedness – being suitably prepared for meetings.
- Timeliness – being on time, delivering proposals promptly.
- After-sales service.
- Presentation – well constructed and relevant proposals.
- Listening skills – being able to understand what has been requested.
- Availability – being readily available and prompt in replying to calls/messages
- Communication – keeping the agency up-to-date on the progress of campaigns.
- Execution – ensuring that the campaign is delivered as agreed.
- Admin – the efficiency of the media owner back-office.
It also means listening to and internalising the brief and always exploring creative ideas. In other words, detailed and professional proposals that don’t need revision with excellent post booking and after sales service. It’s clear that “service delivery” is multi-faceted, extending way beyond the traditional “delivery on time, every time.”
‘Knowledge of client brands and the market landscape’ has consistently been rated as one of the most important performance deliverables expected from media owners. The catch phrases include the ability to interpret a brief and develop a strategically relevant media proposal and having sufficient understanding of a brand and its category in order to hold a meaningful conversation with the client/agency. In other words, they understand the brief, come up with innovative ideas, and follow through by fulfilling their client’s needs.
MOST for Media Agencies
Six criteria measure the performance of media agencies:
- Knowledge of the media landscape
- Knowledge of client brands and market landscape
- Authority (Previously Empowerment)
As in 2014, the performance criteria ranked as most important to media owners is ‘knowledge of client brands and the market landscape’. This consists of having a good general knowledge of the specific media sector that the media owner represents; taking the initiative to obtain the knowledge to make an informed decision for clients and having a solid understanding of the broad media landscape.
A respondent commented, “They have a deep understanding of the media landscape and the ability to be innovative in a very competitive space. They’re leaders in branded content concepts”. Another said, “They’re highly professional. Many of them eat, sleep and breathe their clients’ brands, not always a good thing from a personal perspective”.
This year, ‘communication’ was rated the second most important expectation of media agencies. One media owner explained, “They know their clients and what works for them and are willing to share information in a way that allows me to service their business in a proactive and efficient way”. Another said, “They’re open to having relevant conversations, from strategist to buyer level.” Interestingly, the criteria “professionalism” and “involvement” grew in importance since 2014.
‘Professionalism’ consists of:
- Preparedness – being suitably prepared for meetings with media owners.
- Timeliness – being on time, respectful of time and keeping appointments.
- Presentation – preparing well-constructed and clear briefs.
- Availability – being readily available and prompt in replying to calls/messages.
- Responsibility – taking responsibility for the efficient completion of the processes and the deal.
A comment was, “This agency is 100% involved with its clients’ brands and knows exactly what their strategies and objectives are at all times. They’re welcoming when doing walk-throughs, which can’t be said for most agencies in Joburg.”
‘Involvement’ is defined as:
- Being genuinely interested in his/her clients’ brands.
- Displaying passion and energy in his/her job.
Many responses alluded to the passion and energy of media agencies, confirming that in highly competitive industries, it’s often the softer skill sets that separates the best from the good.
Some comments were, “These guys are so passionate about their creative ideas and making their clients stand out. As a media owner you want to be part of their innovation and grand ideas” and “This agency goes to great lengths to ensure that their client’s campaign is a success. They take time to brief the media owner thoroughly and are always open to new ideas.”
Freshly Ground Insights (FGI) conducted the research for the 9th Annual MOST Awards on behalf of Wag the Dog Publishers (WTDP) in 2015. The MOST Awards Survey elicits feedback from stakeholders in the South African media industry to measure and rank the performance efficacy of media owner advertising sales teams and media agencies. As always, a rigorous data quality control process was followed to collate the results. The survey methodology, data analyses and results were also audited and given the thumbs up by the Analytics Department of the University of Pretoria.
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