When it comes to programmatic media the question “did my agency pay a higher or lower rate than the market/ last year?” can no longer be neatly answered with a simple percentage saving. This is a challenge for every procurement team. New measures are needed to judge the performance of media agencies.
The question of whether an agency negotiated well can no longer be answered by evaluating an excel file with aggregated impressions by the publisher. When it comes to biddable media, it is time to stop trying to make the horses run faster and time to see where the car can take us.
The smart procurement officers are no longer using the audit as a cost compliance exercise, and instead, pivoting to the “always on” tools which provide media intelligence and establish parameters for the marketing teams to work to. We all know the variables in the new age of digital media are numerous, but only by understanding what these variables are and the value they contribute, can real optimisations across the entire chain be made.
It is a radical mindset to move from evaluating media through the rear-view mirror to fixing your gaze on the horizon and focussing on the road ahead and will require several changes to ripple through the organisation. In the same way that agencies had to shift their skill sets from buyers to data analysts, advertisers will need to develop skills around setting and measuring agencies. The future performance optimisation will be around media goals, KPIs and campaign governance. Additionally, advertisers and agencies still need to utilise their analytics and measurement expertise to find ways to aggregate across brands, markets and strategies.
Similarly, the ongoing monitoring of performance needs to be considered as either a new role within the team or managed by an independent third party. Finally, there will be a need for agency performance related fee (PRF) schemes to be updated to reflect performance goals which matter to the business rather than maximising analysed spend at the expense of accuracy.
So how do you start to pivot to the new when approaching an audit? It starts with transparency, and transparency starts with ensuring you have the right contractual rights to your own data. Once you have access to the granular data and the vendor costs, you can ensure your partners are fulfilling the terms of their contracts, best practices can be identified and more accurate approaches that achieve business goals at the best price can be designed.
This new approach to media auditing is obviously overdue when it comes to biddable digital media. With the future of traditional media moving towards a more programmatic buying model, the early adopters of these new models will not only have the advantage of meaningful measurement and rewarding their agencies on the right behaviours, but they will also be ahead of the competition in setting up the models, governance and guard rails required to deliver the best media campaigns possible.
Are you brave enough to change the question?