“How well do your agencies contribute to your business growth?” SCOPEN 2021-2022 posed this question to senior marketers when researching trends and challenges for agencies.
Johanna McDowell, SCOPEN partner and CEO of the Independent Agency Search & Selection Company (IAS), says the purpose of the question was not to compare creative agencies with media agencies, but to determine value delivered to the marketer by each.
“The question is subjective,” says McDowell, “and, quite frankly, a difficult one to answer. How does the client know whether the creative or the media placement was what determined a campaign’s failure or success?”
In the case of media agencies, their metrics will include how well a campaign fared in the media and how well they reached their target audience. “Only the marketer can say whether their agency’s input had a real impact on business, so their answer is largely intuitive,” she says.
Media agencies are able to give an overview on the client’s share of voice, based on their budget and the total spend in the market. This then can be related to the brand’s share of market depending on the stage that the particular brand is at – looking for growth, maturity stage and so on,“ continues McDowell.
AGENCY SCOPE shows that South African CMOs believe that media agencies contribute an average of 34.1% to a client’s growth, where the global average is 24.2% – a good sign for local media agencies.
Cesar Vacchiano, President and CEO of SCOPEN International, points out that data from each country is different and cannot simply be compared to another. “In Brazil, with its integrated full-service model,” he says. “marketers attribute 60.1% business growth to their agencies.”
No decisions without media experts
McDowell is firm in her assertion that no agency can be expected to be solely responsible for the growth of a brand, owing to the sheer number of factors outside the realms of their influence.
“The marketer has a number of areas to take care of,” she says. “They must look after the product, the distribution channels, price, and all the other promotional activities attached to the brand.
“The agency can only do so much,” McDowell maintains, “but the fact that CMOs can say that they believe their media agency contributes 34.1% to their overall growth means it is quantifiable.”
With years of experience across all sectors of media and marketing, McDowell is adamant about one thing: “In the complexity of media channels and the ever-increasing platforms arising today, I would not make a single decision without consulting a media agency expert.”
Aggregating value across channels
Where media agencies shine is where they examine all of the channel opportunities. One of the questions AGENCY SCOPE posed to CMOs was, “How many communications partners and platforms are you dealing with?” The answer was a hefty average of 13, making aggregation of value extremely complex.
“CMOs essentially count on the media agency to collate that information,” McDowell notes, citing the AGENCY SCOPE result that shows 57% of marketers prefer all of their media channels, including digital, to be managed by their media agency.
Vacchiano concurs, highlighting that marketers are not always best placed to determine the extent of the value they’re getting from each channel. “Media agencies house experts on all of the media options available to the client and they are able to optimise the allocated budget across all the channels.”
This, both McDowell and Vacchiano agree, is an area in which it is too easy to waste money without specialist recommendations. “Any decisions made without consulting the media director and agency is potentially money thrown away,” McDowell insists.
“With the complexity and fragmentation of media channels coupled with new ones coming on stream, how can a marketer – whose function it is to be obsessed with creating more opportunities for their brand – be expected to understand the intricacies, even if they had the time?”
Quite simply, CMOs have no choice but to rely on experts who are trained to look at a client’s budget and note the best way to buy the audience that marketers needs to reach.
“There are champions of this game, whose challenge is to make sure a target audience is reached,” McDowell says. “They’re found in the media agencies.”
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