Tag Archives: procurement

Does Your Organization View Marketing Spend as a Material Expense?

2 Mar

digital mediaWhile on the surface this seems like a nonsensical question, advertiser indifference toward independent contract compliance, financial management and performance auditing of their agency partners might suggest an answer that would surprise you.

According to The CMO Survey conducted by Deloitte, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association in February of 2018, companies surveyed spent on average 10.3% of their annual sales on marketing. This would certainly qualify as a “material” expense in our book, particularly when one considers that this investment is being made to build brand equity, establish customer loyalty and to drive demand generation.

So why do so many advertisers take a laissez-faire (French term that translates as “leave alone”) attitude toward basic governance and assurance practices related to their marketing spend?

Is it the belief that a tight client-agency agreement provides the requisite safeguards and controls? Perhaps it is because of an unyielding level of trust in one’s agency partners, intermediaries and third-party vendors exhibited by an organization’s C-suite.

Based upon our experience over two decades of providing contract compliance support to some of the world’s leading advertisers we know that this is not the case. Marketers recognize that the industry is fluid and that the breadth and rapidity of change is such that contract language needs to be reviewed and updated on a frequent basis. Similarly, while advertisers certainly trust their agencies, there is also a core belief in the concept of “trust but verify.”

No, we believe that the reason for the laissez-faire approach to marketing accountability is the fact that no one function “owns” this task organizationally.

In our experience, few marketing departments willingly invite independent scrutiny of their marketing and advertising practices, controls and or the performance of their agency networks. If such examination is not mandated corporately, it will likely not be initiated by marketing. Similarly, the procurement organization is typically focused on screening, vetting and contracting with current and potential marketing vendors. Many procurement teams recognize the value of periodic agency audits, but as “support” departments they rarely have the budget to self-fund such accountability initiatives. The same is true of Internal Audit and their ability to underwrite the cost of audit projects in this area.

In many instances, procurement and internal audit leaders will approach marketing and ask for their participation in and funding for a governance and assurance initiative, but too often this is proffered on a voluntary basis. Unfortunately, this scenario rarely leads to a marketing accountability and transparency review. Thus, in the end, if an organization doesn’t mandate periodic examinations or the ongoing monitoring of its marketing investment or provide funding for such an initiative to its procurement and internal audit team(s) than it may be “flying blind” when it comes to safeguarding its marketing investment.

The irony, as progressive marketing organizations have learned, is that a formal governance and assurance program, which includes marketing, provides financial returns that more than pay for the cost of the attendant independent examinations. Further, the resulting improvements in contract language and process related learnings yield efficiency gains for clients and agencies alike and the resulting transparency gains can serve as the impetus for improving the level of trust and ultimately the relationship between these partners.

With an admitted “pro audit” bias, we can state unequivocally that our experience over the course of two plus decades of providing contract compliance and financial management audit support to advertisers, our belief in the old saying; “In god we trust, all others we audit” has never been stronger.


Funding Accountability Initiatives

26 Aug

Accountability FinalThe desire on the part of many advertisers to extend their organization’s accountability initiative to marketing is high. This is due to the fact that marketing is both one of the largest indirect expense categories within an organization and, for those that believe in its ability to drive strategic outcomes, critical in driving brand value and demand generation.

One of the key challenges for Internal Audit and Procurement professionals in implementing accountability programs is that they typically do not have a budget to fund the projects. Rather, they are reliant on their peers in Marketing to “buy in” to the concept and to underwrite the investment associated with analyzing contract compliance, financial management and in-market performance across their agency networks. This dynamic can create a loggerhead that delays or prevents corporate scrutiny into marketing and advertising spending and its resulting business impact.

The irony is that relative to the millions of dollars invested in marketing, the cost of implementing an accountability program for this corporate function is much less than one-percent of total spend. As we know, applying the skills and capabilities of audit and procurement teams and outside consultants typically results in improved controls that mitigate financial and legal risks to the organization. Further, these efforts often uncover historical errors and overbillings, and always generate future savings and improved marketing return-on-investment opportunities that more than offset the cost of the program.

It has always been a mystery as to why more advertisers simply don’t formalize and legislate the marketing accountability program and establish the requisite budget to be administered by the CFO / Finance organization. A minority of our clients operate in this manner, but clearly a “win, win” situation is created where internal audit and procurement provide their support and apply their resources pro-actively and marketing doesn’t feel as though funding is coming at the expense of critical business building programs within their budgets.

From our perspective, the source of funding for extending a corporate accountability initiative to marketing is the last hurdle. The reason is that we have seen marketing’s appreciation for accountability support grow along with their respect for the audit and procurement functions and a recognition that such programs can improve the efficiency and efficacy of the organization’s marketing spend.

The advertising industry is a complex; rapidly changing, technology-driven sector fraught with opacity challenges and risks such as digital media fraud and non-transparent revenue practices employed by agencies, ad tech providers, ad exchanges and media sellers. In light of these dynamics, organizations truly understand the benefit of monitoring the disposition of their marketing investment and the performance of their advertising agencies and third-party vendors.

It has been over 140 years since Philadelphia merchant John Wanamaker offered the following perspective on his ad spend:

Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

Yet, with the passage of time it would be difficult for the industry to suggest that much has changed with regard to a marketers ability to accurately assess the efficacy of their advertising spend.

There is no time like the present to proactively develop; implement and fund transformative accountability programs that can optimize planned business outcomes, while safeguarding marketing spend at every level of the advertising investment cycle.

Interested in learning more about marketing accountability programs? Contact Cliff Campeau, Principal at Advertising Audit & Risk Management| AARM at ccampeau@aarmusa.com for a complimentary consultation on the topic.

Strategic Sourcing and Vegetarian Haggis

19 Feb

Guest Article by Katherine Wang, Senior Project Analyst at Source strategic sourcingOne Management Services, LLC

How would you describe strategic sourcing and procurement? Source One’s company website demonstrates, for instance, that a variety of solutions and services are involved in the day-to-day responsibilities of a specialist in this growing field. I, for one, tend to prefer utilizing the terms “consulting” or “subject matter experts” when explaining to others what I do to, in order to capture the multidimensional nature of my activities. Never have I heard of my work being described as “Vegetarian Haggis.”

When I think of Scottish-related stereotypes, I think fondly of things like rugged terrain, tartan, and James Bond, so I will leave out any negative comments about haggis until I try the dish. However, due to the nature of haggis being a hearty and meaty dish, Rob Guenette’s comparison of procurement to a vegetarian version* humorously captures the common frustration and ambivalence agencies often feel towards the division that handles the RFP, negotiation, and contracting processes.

A common point of contention appears to be the perception that the only objective procurement is concerned about is cost reduction, regardless of the shop’s creative ingenuity or type of work, and as a consequence, parties habitually develop unreasonable expectations of themselves and of their partners.  Another concern is the idea that procurement departments do not have a clear enough understanding of the sales and marketing industry to make the best judgment calls. Digiday’s interview with two digital agency leads indicate how their greatest concern is that procurement develops scorecards and “scientific systems” to evaluate shops and disqualify candidates for incorrect or irrelevant reasons. These perceived impediments are only exacerbated by the fact that pitch processes are lengthy and costly, and according to PRWeek, increasingly drawn out thanks to the procurement department’s increasing involvement in marketing-related decisions. When considering those factors, it’s no wonder procurement is as appealing to the agencies as vegetarian haggis is to Sean Connery (or anyone else for that matter).

Nevertheless, it is unlikely that marketing teams will exile the procurement division any time soon. Putting aside company regulations and bureaucratic hurdles, procurement is, as discussed by Alan Wexler, EVP of SapientNitro, and James Gross, co-founder of Percolate, utilized as the “investigative layer that takes the workload off the buyer when making a purchasing decision,” and help add accountability and structure to a company’s buying decisions. This is especially important when large firms with a multitude of divisions and products seek marketing services and are faced with a daunting number of choices from different agencies.

To allay the qualms engendered by the agency-procurement relationship and to emphasize the benefits that such a partnership would bring, I conclude with a few notes on best practices observed in the business. All paths point to how clear communication is integral to the process. Forbes’ recent exposition on the 2013 ANA Advertising Financial Management Conference in Scottsdale Arizona illustrates the gap as well as constructive links between procurement, agency and marketing teams. Brett Colbert of MDC Partner’s quip about procurement at the conference, “…It can’t just be about procuring or buying…. We have to move the conversation beyond savings, talk about value not price,” deftly sums up the ultimate goal. To meet this target and derive value from business engagements, parties should increase the flow of information to better comprehend each initiative’s needs.

Similarly, ISBA and IPA provide six useful principles to make the most out of an agency pitch. The lesson to be mastered sounds simple enough: procurement, agency, and marketing teams should work to ensure that there is effective communication and transparency among the three parties. Collaboration is important to understanding the ultimate objectives and nuances of selecting an agency that fits well, in terms of capabilities and chemistry, and to avoid using the RFI/RFP as a blunt instrument. As they say, “Quality, not quantity.”

To learn more about how strategic sourcing may bridge the disconnects between marketing teams, procurement, and advertising agencies and obtaining value, contact guest blogger Katherine Wang at kwang@sourceoneinc.com.  Katherine Wang is a senior project analyst for Source One Management Services LLC and a key contributor to the company’s sales and marketing services group. Her unique experiences and insights are leveraged daily as the group develops innovative and effective sourcing strategies for a client list of global leaders in industries including pharmaceutical, health care, and manufacturing. Source One Management Services is a provider of procurement services, helping clients with strategic sourcing and supplier management solutions. The company is based in Willow Grove, Pa. 

*A final note on vegetarian haggis: according to The Guardian, it’s actually pretty good, all things considered.


Moving Toward Strategic Sourcing

17 May

Advertisers strategic sourcinghave come a long way in forging stronger ties between their marketing and procurement teams.  Yet, there is much more to be done as organizations look for ways to improve their return on marketing investment (ROMI).  After all, while important, expense reduction is only part of the ROMI equation and some would argue a secondary consideration when contrasted with marketing’s role in demand generation.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released the results of a recent survey of procurement professionals fielded earlier this year.  Not surprisingly, survey participants indicated that “cost reduction” and “cost avoidance” were the top two metrics by which their efforts were judged within their respective organizations.  No problem.  These are important financial goals for any enterprise.

However, the key to evolving the collaboration between marketing and procurement is to evolve their focus to include various means of boosting supplier performance.  The potential strategic value related to improvements in; agency relationship management processes, resource allocation decision making, supplier innovation and client/ agency engagement can have a meaningful impact on the bottom line.  On this topic, the aforementioned ANA survey would suggest that marketing and procurement have made significant progress, at least philosophically.

So what are the impediments to strategic sourcing playing a more meaningful role in marketing procurement and supplier relationship management?  Many in the marketing and advertising industry would suggest that “experience” is the principal challenge facing procurement professionals when it comes to the marketing services arena.  To be fair, this is not a procurement issue, this is an organizational issue. Recruiting sourcing talent with marketing experience, educating and training procurement professionals on the nuances of professional services sourcing and creating a culture which embraces accountability and transparency across the organization are key issues to be addressed.

In our opinion, marketing has a significant opportunity to shape the organization’s efforts in building the proficiency of the procurement team.  Work begins with, but clearly is not limited to, assisting HR to identify sourcing professionals with marketing experience, assisting in the crafting of job descriptions, educating and informing their procurement peers on differences between marketing services and other direct or indirect procurement categories, and working diligently to articulate their supplier optimization initiatives as the basis for driving goal alignment between marketing and strategic sourcing.

Unfortunately, in some organizations, rather than assist in developing procurement’s skill set and resource offering, marketers take advantage of the procurement team’s lack of category experience to stave off or minimize their involvement within the marketing services realm.  Given the significant level of marketing investment advertisers are making this is clearly not a desirable outcome; either as it relates to ROMI or relates to mitigating financial and legal risks inherent across the marketing services supplier network.

Unlike George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” which were once “forbidden” by the broadcast industry; accountability, audit, collaboration, cost containment, expense reduction, risk management and transparency are not taboo.  Rather, these activities should be considered necessary ingredients in any strategic supplier management initiative.   It remains a mystery as to why this perspective has been slower to take seed in the U.S. advertising marketplace than it has in the U.K. and Western Europe, but it is an issue that will need to be addressed for any real progress to occur.

Interested in learning more about constructive marketing procurement programs? Contact Cliff Campeau, Principal at Advertising Audit & Risk Management at ccampeau@aarmusa.com for a complimentary consultation.

Deadlines Don’t Make Great Partners When It Comes to Marketing Procurement

3 Dec

hThe economic forecast for 2013 can be summed up in one word, “uncertain.”  One of the results of this uncertainty will likely be downward pressure on corporate budgets…. including marketing spend.  Whether this results in budget stagnation or enterprise expense reduction initiatives, companies will be looking to balance their revenue generation efforts with the need to contain expenditures.

Point-in-fact, a recent study released by the UK advertising agency group IPA, found that as of the end of October 2012, marketing budgets “had been reigned in during the third quarter of this year to a greater extent than at any time since 2009.”  Of note, 23% of survey respondents “reported a reduction in marketing spend” with only 18% indicating that their budgets had increased.  According to the group, that -5%+ differential “represented a dramatic fall” when compared to the -1.1% in the second quarter and +1.0% in the first quarter of this year.  

In light of this challenging environment, it is highly probable that corporate procurement will be asked to expand their involvement with marketing to identify potential cost savings for the coming year.  These types of corporate edicts complete with succinct timetables and “hard” cost-reduction targets can create challenges on both sides of the aisle.  If procurement and marketing haven’t already forged a close working relationship and a base level of understanding of the role that each group plays and the expertise that they bring to the task at hand, then the risk exists that the process will be fraught with anxiety and tension.  Clearly Bill Phillips had it right when he intoned:

“Stress should be a powerful driving force, not an obstacle.”

Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  One has to look no further than the political gridlock in Washington D.C. over the “Fiscal Cliff” to see that time-constrained processes designed to address challenging financial issues are difficult, to say the least.  Stakeholders tend to become more entrenched in their views and focus on defending budgetary “sacred cows” or attacking perceived “excesses” rather than working together to map out a balanced approach. 

Marketers, let’s be honest, whether you’re managing a $15 million budget or a $500 million marketing budget, there are always opportunities for improved efficiency’s.  The key to success in working with procurement on a near-term expense reduction initiative is to help identify the “nice to have” budgetary line items versus the “need to have.”  Remember, it is still marketing’s obligation to optimize the organization’s revenue potential during uncertain times.  Prioritizing areas to explore to achieve the organization’s expense reduction goal will be a significant help to the procurement team and will provide the catalyst necessary to jump-start the process.

One area often overlooked by marketing and procurement teams when seeking hard cost savings are the dollars that can be generated from a historical review of the organization’s marketing investment.  Agency contract compliance audits and billing reconciliation reviews can yield significant financial true-up opportunities as well as potential future savings.  In our experience, it is not a-typical for a contract compliance audit to return between 2% – 9% of audited billings in the form of financial returns and or future savings to the advertiser. 

Best of all, by engaging an independent contract compliance auditor this process can take place concurrently with the efforts of marketing and procurement in reviewing the existing/ proposed budget for potential savings.  Further, given the historical, data-driven approach which should be the hallmark of a contract compliance audit, the process requires little time on the part of the marketing and procurement team members and virtually no time on the part of the agency account teams that often play a critical support role in working with the client to identify potential budgetary savings. 

Every dollar’s worth of saving is generated from historical rather than future expenditures and the risk to the organization demand generation efforts are significantly lessened. This is precisely the type of scenario in which all stakeholders can find grounds for agreement.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of compliance auditing and its role in an enterprise expense reduction initiative?  Contact Cliff Campeau, Principal at Advertising Audit & Risk Management at ccampeau@aarmusa.com for a complimentary consultation on the topic.


Auditor Compensation Should be Aligned With Client Objectives

15 May

audit compensationAt the recent ANA “Agency Financial Management” conference in Boca Raton, FL there was much conversation around the topic of “contingency” auditors and the relevancy of recovery based compensation models for media and contract compliance audit firms.  This perspective was largely fueled by presenters representing fee-based firms and associations.   Whether their perspective was driven by a desire to pander to their association members, the agency representatives at the conference or somehow believing that being a fee-based auditor was somehow the lesser of two evils is unclear.

In our opinion, this is a largely irrelevant, self-serving position that masks the true benefits of third-party independent marketing audits and reviews.  Our position is that audit compensation models should be treated no differently than those of other professional services firms… including advertising agencies.  Compensation should be tied directly to a scope of services.  These deliverables drive the value of the audit including; contract compliance, process improvement, agency performance assessments, improved reporting/ transparency and or financial reconciliation.  The notion that compensation methodologies somehow skew audit results is a direct affront to the integrity of the advertiser.  The fact is that it is the historical agency billings/ advertiser payments and their basis that determines whether or not the advertiser is entitled to a financial true-up, not the manner in which an auditor is compensated.

If an audit determines that an agency owes their client money due to billing errors, earned but unprocessed credits, rebates and discounts or time-of-staff under-delivery, the findings have nothing to do with how the advertiser has funded an audit.  Like performance based compensation systems espoused by agencies, a combination fee plus performance incentive compensation approach is equally valid and viable for auditors.  The key is to align auditor compensation with the advertiser’s business objectives and culture.  Encouraging their professional services partners to have “skin in the game” as it relates to the financial efficacy of the audit, whether based upon recoveries or future savings is a standard, professional approach for advertisers to employ.

Importantly, performance based compensation systems provide the requisite incentive for audit firms to look beyond the time-capped limitations of fee-based approaches to ensure a thorough assessment based on a comprehensive data review rather than sampling.  Further, the need to audit, whether part of an enterprise accountability initiative, tied to marketing agency turnover or simply following best practices related to enterprise-wide financial risk management protocol, often requires financial flexibility when it comes to funding the initiative.  Thus, a blended compensation system which includes a base fee and performance incentive can enable the advertiser to advance their audit program within the current budget year, without jeopardizing Procurement’s, Internal Audit’s or Marketing’s other initiatives.

During the aforementioned ANA conference, it was suggested by one client-side marketer that “those types of audits,” referring to contingency audits, are frequently initiated by procurement, not by marketing.  Let’s be honest, virtually all third-party audit activity emanates from finance, internal audit or procurement.  Unfortunately, in spite of the fact that an organization’s marketing spend represents one of the largest components of an advertiser’s selling and general administrative expense, U.S. marketing executives have yet to fully embrace their organization’s accountability initiatives.  Focusing on auditor compensation is simply a misguided attempt to further delay any third-party scrutiny.  And if this is not the case, ask those marketing executives to underwrite the cost of a fee-based audit and gauge their reaction to the request.  In the words of noted American author, Katherine Brush:

“Most passport pictures are good likenesses, it is time we faced it.”

At AARM we conduct contract compliance and agency performance audits for a broad-range of multi-national advertisers, many that are represented on AdAge’s “Top 100” advertisers list.  For the record, we are compensation agnostic.  Our goal is simple – to structure a compensation approach that aligns our efforts with the client’s business objectives, culture and audit deliverables.  Of note, in AARM’s process all audit observations are vetted with the agency prior to being shared with the client.  Therefore, if there exists any erroneous findings or the agency feels as though they can share additional information to clarify the findings represented in the audit, the opportunity exists for the agency to address those items before the audit report is published.  In the end, the facts are the facts, regardless of the manner in which an audit firm is compensated.  If an advertiser doesn’t feel as though they can trust the results of the audit, then we would suggest the real issue was the screening process employed on the front-end to select the audit partner, not the compensation program.

Agency Agreements Require Adequate Audit Rights

14 Apr

Advertising Audit is an important financial control process – not an optional luxury.

Any large company conducting business with an advertising agency or media buying firm without comprehensive Audit Rights is simply at risk. The marketing supplier may refuse to cooperate with (or significantly restrict) even very reasonable audit requests.

Based on years of experience and observation, it is clear that a sub par or non-existent audit clause often limits an Advertiser’s ability to implement standard compliance testing which therefore limits their opportunity to validate agency billings and gain comfort. Important learning opportunities are also lost – clearly an undesired outcome.

An example of a healthy financial relationship between parties – there are cases to note where even lacking clear audit documentation, the marketing supplier has complied with audit requests, but these cases are few and far between.

Pushback is a “red-flag.” Good financial practices should have nothing to fear from thorough scrutiny. The more pushback the higher the risk meter should rise.

Verification of billing accuracy / support would seem an innate right of any large company spending millions of dollars with a vendor (yes, even in Marketing).

What should you do? (1) in the near term amend the current Client-Agency Agreement to add a Right to Audit clause – and make it retroactive for at least 3 years; (2) add a Right to Audit clause within an ancillary document such as a Statement of Work (SOW) or an annual amendment to the Master Client-Agency Agreement; or (3) create a new document signed by both parties creating a Right to Audit and adding it to the vendor master file.

Ensure the audit clause is
well-defined and comprehensive.
For a guide, contact AARM at info@aarmusa.com

Once Audit Rights are established, a best practice and preventative control measure is to implement periodic and routine testing to deter wasteful practices, to identify errant billing transactions and to monitor key financial metrics. Testing should be performed at least annually, and always in cases where an agency relationship has been terminated (“transition audit”).

The audit concept also applies to systematic (or continuous) monitoring processes. A systematic monitoring program measures agency financial transactions, reporting and timing against a predetermined set of tolerances. Metrics are compiled and delivered at least monthly to stakeholders. Systematic monitoring is generally performed by an independent third-party with specialized software, and the Advertiser often chooses to share results with the agency – to support incentive compensation goals of and or a basis for behavior modification.

Right to Audit is a necessary safeguard in today’s business environment. Determining a schedule, methodology, and defined approach that encompass at some level each vendor in the organization’s marketing network will provide necessary assurance to management that adequate oversight and preventative controls are in place to catch errors, drive efficiencies and enhance ROI.

The Key to Improved Marketing Procurement Practices

16 Mar

marketing procurement

The topic of Marketing Services procurement practices remains a much discussed, often hotly disputed topic within the industry. There are several reasons why differences of opinion exist, however the time has never been better for marketers, procurement professionals and marketing services agencies to establish a mutually beneficial framework for constructively advancing this discussion.

Recently, a number of global marketers including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble and General Motors have made announcements that directly impact marketing services procurement, albeit in different manners. In the case of Coca-Cola, the organization will utilize savings wrung from supply-chain efficiency gains to fuel its investment in marketing. PepsiCo seeks to streamline its global marketing services agency network, with CEO Indra Nooyi announcing that the organization’s beverage division has identified 100 North American agencies that will be eliminated from its agency network. Procter & Gamble will pare back its investment in traditional media to leverage the reach and efficiency of digital and social media. Dan Akerson, the CEO at General Motors, which just consolidated its global media planning and buying with Aegis Group has stated his intent to “reduce complexities and drive efficiencies.“

In addition to the actions and intentions being announced by large multi-national advertisers, there was an interesting study on marketing procurement conducted by Charterhouse at the close of 2011. Entitled; “The Marketing Maturity Index” the organization surveyed 200 procurement professionals from a cross-section of Europe’s 500 largest businesses. The findings of this study reinforce the need for constructive action in this area:

  • A vast majority (88%) of those surveyed felt that current marketing procurement practices are inefficient.
  • 4 out of 5 claimed that marketing product and services could be purchased more efficiently.
  • 4 out of 10 identified efficiency savings as a “significant opportunity” for their businesses.
  • Only 1 out of 5 felt that their organizations were as lean as possible.

The take away is clear, a well thought out marketing services procurement process can play a key role in supporting both an organization’s supply-chain managementand demand generation initiatives.

To successfully create and manage an effective, highly efficient marketing agency network a collaborative approach may be best. Why? As the breadth of marketing agency networks have expanded and the tenure of CMO’s has declined (around 24 months according to recruiting firm Spencer Stuart) a cross-functional approach to the development, management and monitoring of agency performance and contract compliance is required to safeguard the interests of each stakeholder. Further, the marketing agency network is a vital corporate asset that would benefit from the involvement of and access to senior representatives from Marketing, Procurement, Finance and Legal. Let’s face it the cost of changing agencies is expensive in terms of absolute costs, financial risks and demand generation momentum. Thus, an organization committed to a stable, high-performance agency network stands to gain significant value.

Organizations’ can improve their return-on-marketing-investment by optimizing the performance of their marketing agency network by taking the following actions:

  • Stabilize the Marketing Team and marketing agency network. Organizations lose valuable knowledge when institutional marketing memory is not transferred to others. The rate and rapidity of personnel and agency turnover creates risks in this area.
  • Truth, transparency and respect are necessary ingredients for successfully managing marketing agency networks. Implementing contractual, financial and performance oriented controls can safeguard an advertisers marketing investment and establish a sense of clarity among the supplier base as to “what is expected” and the analytics that will be used to assess performance.
  • Reality matters when its insight that you seek. Monitoring and benchmarking agency performance yields knowledge which can be utilized to drive efficiencies and to socialize “Best Practices” throughout the advertisers organization and across the network.

When it comes to marketing service procurement and the benefits to that can be realized by creating and maintaining a high performing agency network, one can take inspiration from the noted Roman poet Ovid:

“Make the workmanship surpass the materials.”

This perspective is as valid today as it was two millennia ago and it has the potential to galvanize each of the stakeholders in this important discussion around the ultimate goal of marketing services procurement. Interested in learning more? Read a summary of the “Marketing Maturity Index” survey.

4A’s Conference Debate Not Healthy

9 Mar

Intriguing article in Advertising Age on the musings, or should I say public rants, of some agency executives coming out of the 4A’s conference. Are the views voiced by this select group of executives indicative of others in the industry?  If so, this year’s 4A’s conference is likely to have a negative impact on client (and employee) perceptions of the industry.

If select agency leaders aren’t proud of their shop’s work product or staff talent levels or feel that the agency holding company model stifles creativity then they should address these issues in a constructive manner. Blaming clients for their woes and publicly slurring advertiser procurement professionals is certainly not going to address their internal housekeeping issues Read More.

What is it About Procurement That Ad Agencies Dislike?

18 Dec

agency client procurement relationshipBriefly, it appeared as though Strategic Sourcing, client-side Marketing and Agency professionals were engaged in constructive dialogue regarding procurement’s role in the marketing services arena.  That is until representatives from the ad agency community took to their soap boxes and railed against corporate procurement’s role.

Why do certain agency community representatives continue to wage a public battle to minimize or eliminate the influence of procurement in the agency sourcing process?  Perhaps one has to move beyond the seemingly endless diatribe about procurement’s “lack of understanding” of how to value an agency’s contribution or the intangible nature of agency deliverables on brand health or procurement’s role in driving agency margins down to get to the root cause of their concern.

After all, forging strong alliances with Strategic Sourcing professionals represents an opportunity for agencies and should be a cornerstone of their business development and client retention strategies.  Could it be that some within the agency community are fearful of the financial scrutiny and performance benchmarking that are part of the process?  Perhaps they are not comfortable justifying fees and or offering demonstrable proof that their stewardship of their clients’ advertising investments generated a positive economic impact.

If their concerns are grounded in the former line of thinking that ship has left the pier and those arguments no longer hold water. Company Boards of Directors and Senior Management teams have both mandated Strategic Sourcing’s involvement on an enterprise-wide basis and expanded their near-term charter to include marketing services.  If the concern is related to the difficulty in valuing their contributions there are two economic analyses that are required.

The first is certainly well within an agency’s ability to catalog, monetize and communicate… their investment of resources into stewarding their clients advertising investments.  The second may require more work, particularly if the client-side marketing team and the agency have not implemented a sound return-on-marketing-investment monitoring system to accurately track and attribute their in-market results back to each facet of the client’s marketing investment.  Difficult as that may be, a fact-based, rational construct is the best bet for engaging all parties in a productive discussion regarding agency performance and contributions and for positively impacting the procurement process.

For many organizations the investment in marketing and advertising is one of their largest indirect expenses… it will continue to be scrutinized. Interested in reading more? Attached is a fascinating exchange between individuals with slightly different perspectives … Read More.

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