How to save your advertising production costs by defining your requirements up front

No matter if it is TV, cinema, radio, online, print or digital, we invariably notice that budget over-runs, blowouts and increases are caused by changes in the specification of the task during or after the production process rather than in the concept or pre-production stage.

In one case we had client-mandated changes as more than 30% to the approved cost of the production and when the brand manager was confronted with the costs they engaged us to assess the proposed costs. In most cases the blowout could have been avoided with some careful planning up front.

Increasing options in media, regions and durations

While this has been an issue for as long as advertising itself, it has recently been exacerbated by the increased number of media channels, the regionalisation and globalisation of markets and advertising, and the fast pace of change in business and marketing, making more and more executions more short-term and disposable.

The increasing time and resource pressure on marketers and their agencies has lead to an increasing number of shortcuts to meet these deadlines, which further impacts this increased complexity.

Time pressures appear to overcome the need for cost consciousness

Of course, cost reduction is no reason to sacrifice creative impact or effectiveness. Just as poor planning and lack of due diligence is no reason to pay more than is required.

But in the pressure to deliver outcomes, due diligence is often overlooked or discounted. This means that instead of looking for the most cost effective way of delivering the outcome, often only the most expedient and invariably the most expensive production process is used.

The need to clearly articulate all your needs and requirements

The best solution is to develop and implement guidelines for campaigns prior to commencing the process. We have found that often in the heat and pace of campaign development, many considerations are overlooked in the shortcuts to meet the deadline and deliver the outcome.

Our recommended guidelines include:

1.  Defining all the media channels to be used for the campaign both short and longer term. This is not just the initial media but also possible longer term uses so that rights can be negotiated up front and paid if and when required.

2.  Defining the media execution required up front in terms of size, duration and number, and have this estimated up front. Invariably the production cost of additional executions after the fact is more expensive than having these produced at the time.

3.  Hold your agency to the defined requirements agreed up front. Once these parameters are established on each and every project, the agency and other creative and production providers must then be engaged to competitively quote and fix the cost and timeline of delivery.

Too many times oversights in the production process lead to cost blowouts that are paid for by the advertiser and not the suppliers.