After seven years, trends clearly indicate the MOST Award initiative has positively influenced the media sector.
In 2008 Sandra Gordon, founder of the MOST Awards, began consultations with media owner and media agency leaders. After a series of focus groups it became clear that recognition of performance is a great motivator of people and teams and the best manner to achieve sustainable success is to establish a credible programme based on independent research.
“The agency model exists in many sectors and can be problematic if both sellers and buyers do not appreciate and respect each other. That thinking led me to suggest to the media industry a way of measuring performance and efficacy that would be welcomed and driven by both owners and agencies. It had to be independent, for the industry by the industry and constructed using sound criteria,” explains Gordon.
Criteria were developed by media leaders that would serve both sides in the voting process. Gordon commissioned seasoned media professional Brad Aigner of Freshly Ground Insights who suggested and developed an online survey.
“The primary objective of the MOST Awards is to recognise and rank South African based media owner sales teams and their media agency partners in terms of the service that they provide to one another. So it is inherently an annual measure of the service efficacy of providers in the South African media industry,” says Aigner
How the survey works
Over the years there has been minimal change to the criteria, they are accepted as benchmarks and in fact are used to measure staff key performance by some agencies and owners.
Media owners rank agencies by rating them in terms of: knowledge of their own brands and the media landscape, knowledge of client brands and the market landscape, service delivery, innovation, authority (i.e. having mandate to make decisions), and involvement.
Media agencies also rank media owners against six criteria. These are: knowledge of the media landscape, knowledge of client brands and the market landscape, communication, professionalism, authority and Involvement.
Aigner explains that rankings across criteria included in the two questionnaires are out of ten points which are then averaged out so that companies are given a score. The data analytics are reviewed in consultation with statistical experts at Consulta.
“These criteria are carefully explained in the questionnaire. For example in service delivery, respondents take many things into account. Timeliness, preparedness, after-sales service; presentation; listening skills; availability; communication; execution, and administration. It means that careful consideration has to be made with regard to each of the criteria”.
One measurement of the success of the Most Awards is the improvement in the scores, indicating that both owners and agencies are upping their performance and applying thought to the consequences of winning. Media owners and agents are using their top positions to motivate staff, include details in marketing collateral and give prominence to their success in new business pitches. The top three positions are tightly contested with scores often less than a .05% difference in scores. As a consequence there has been significant growth in ‘statistical ties’ between top scorers.
“The methodology suggested by our experts manages any instances where statistically insignificant variances in overall scores occurred between companies. Specifically, voters are also asked to nominate the best performer in each category in which they voted. This metric is used to ‘break the tie’ in the event of equal scores. To ensure the integrity of the MOST Awards, the survey method and data analytics are reviewed by the analytics department at the University of Pretoria and have to be given a clean audit,” Aigner said.
Gordon says that since the inception of the MOST Awards, the competition among media owners and agencies has intensified. But it has also led to far better cooperation and communication between the entities. This is the real reason for MOST, to encourage healthy completion and as a result better performance. “I have found that competitiveness in the media agency market equals the intensity of media owners,” she says.
Trevor Ormerod, general manager of sales and marketing at Times Media Group, explained the value of the top award to Ashraf Garda of SAFM. “Winning the MOST overall Media Owner Award and the Newspapers Award was gratifying. The MOST awards are unique as they set the benchmark in service excellence which is evaluated by one’s peers in the industry.
“What particularly thrilled us was that the print market is difficult and the MOST Awards helps us define what needs to be done to educate the market about the value of print and also how important it is to be innovative,” he said.
MOST is a great tool
In the same Garda interview, Ilan Lazarus, director of PHD Cape Town, said that after the big surprise of winning the MOST Media Agency Rising Star Award, he realised just how valuable the MOST Awards were due to its scoring system which helped agencies better themselves and perhaps see where they were lacking. “We will now use the MOST results as an incredibly useful tool for setting benchmarks for our business’s Key Performance Indicators,” Lazarus said.
At the event, a sense of pride rippled through the audience as Aigner announced from the podium that the MOST Awards were globally the only media awards project of its kind.
Gordon says she is gratified at the positive response by the sector. “Each year the votes increase as does attendance at the event. We regularly evaluate the programme from start to finish and invite the industry to share their views and benefit from the detailed research results. There is no doubt in my mind that these findings are of immense use to the industry.”
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