Top 10 considerations when selecting a new media agency

Media continues to be the single biggest investment for most marketers and advertisers, yet the option continues to expand with more choices and more specialists entering the market place. So how do you go about not only choosing the right roster model, but also the right media partner for you business? Here are a few things to consider.

1. What media services do you require? Do you want a strategy / planning specialist? A search specialist? Or a big buying house? Or is it a general one-stop-shop? Each option comes with strengths and weaknesses depending on your needs and circumstances, but the first step is to identify these.

2. What is the buying power of the agency? The majority of national advertisers buy through media agency buying groups, and the size of their billings and your budget can significantly influence the level of discount an advertiser will enjoy.

3. What media specialities do we need? A number of ‘specialities’ have emerged within the media function including Channel Planner, Digital Strategist, Search Strategist, Social Strategist, Consumer Insights Specialist, Sponsorship Specialist, Econometric Modelling Specialist, Research and Technology Specialist, etc. Make sure the agency has these skills, but likewise don’t pay for what you don’t really need.

4. What media tools and software do they provide? Optimising software was the first, rapidly followed by Modelling software (awareness, sales, response), true Econometric Modelling software, Portfolio Management software, etc. But ‘Smart’ software is only smart if they can demonstrate the benefit to your business.

5. What additional skills do they provide? Specialist resources require specialist personnel and some of the new areas need people with skill sets from outside the industry. It is not unusual to see a dedicated Market Researcher in the Consumer Insights role, or an Economic Statistician in the Econometric Modelling area.

6. What are the skills of the people who will be working on your business? Some media agencies have developed internal ‘cells’ that specialise in a particular category or industry, across a range of individuals. Ideally you should look for experience in the basics as well as the technology and digital  specialists from a cohesive team that provides both youthful creativity and mature experience.

7. How engaged will the senior management be in your business? Media agencies are successful business units with skilled and seasoned management. Most are run by experienced media specialists/generalists and the skills these people bring to the table are critical to their success.

8. What form of remuneration do they prefer? Cost plus retainer? Project fees? Media commission? Performance Based Remuneration (PBR) aspect that rewards or penalises the agency on performance? The type of remuneration should work for both you and the agency in regards to value, changes in budgets, workloads and cash flow.

9. How effective is the ‘chemistry’ or ‘fit’? Most relationships that last long-term are based on mutual respect, understanding and consideration; more than the camaraderie of the new business pitch; its a genuine interest in or passion for your business; an open and honest approach that will engender trust and respect.

10. Do you have the time and expertise to consider all the options? If not, contact TrtinityP3 as we have extensive and detailed database of media planning and buying agencies and experience in helping advertisers make the right choice.

What are the main considerations you use in selecting a media agency or specialist service provider? It would be good to hear that it is not just price. Let me know here with your comments.

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About Darren Woolley

Darren is called a Pitch Doctor, Negotiator, Problem Solver, Founder & Global CEO of TrinityP3 - Strategic Marketing Management Consultants and a founding member of the Marketing FIRST Forum. He is also an Ex-scientist, Ex-Creative Director and a father of three. And in his spare time he sleeps. Darren's Bio Here Email: darren@trinityp3.com
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4 Responses to Top 10 considerations when selecting a new media agency

  1. There's a new role emerging in the US…..Earned Media Directors.
    To your point No.3 here's a post all about this new beast http://frankmedia.com.au/2011/11/29/earned-media-

    • TrinityP3 says:

      Martyn, it seems to me that media directors should be considering earned, bought and built media. But as usually, so much talk followed by so little behaviour change. My concern with separate roles is this draws focus to the function and fragments what is already a complex discipline even further. How do you see this being integrated and more importantly aligned into the media function Martyn?

  2. Fragmentation of roles in this industry has particularly accelerated in the last 5 years and i agree that yet another role could be one too many.
    Social however is bigger than just creative or just media and to my mind should sit within the the client side….arguably become the role of an enlightened Marketing Director.
    Rather than add to the fragmentation i see social as being the role that 'absorbs fragmentation' and returns control to the client providing true integration.
    The current roles of buying media and creating ads can comfortably sit within the overall social business strategy mantle.
    Behavioural change i agree is slow but given we're talking about a fundamental change in how our industry operates i'm not surprised.
    Change will happen, has to happen, and i think 2012 will see this process begin to accelerate as the penny drops.
    Are you starting to see some shifts?

    • TrinityP3 says:

      Hi Martyn, most larger companies are taking social in house, driven not by marketing but by corporate affairs who see it as an important part of reputation management. It is unfortunate that too many marketers and their agencies have simply used social as another media channel and this has led to them filling the channel with unrelated and unwanted selling messages that simply turn people off rather then participating in discussions that turn people on to the brand. Some have got this right, but many not. Even when taken in house, the biggest mistake is handing responsibility to the "intern" as they say in the US, because it requires empathy and strategy and not just an understanding of the technology.

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