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Industry Contributor 28 Jul 2020 - 3 min read

Finding a new media agency partner in a new world - cheap versus deep

By Jen Davidson, Managing Partner - Tumbleturn Media

Nothing like a pandemic to whip clients and procurement departments into a frenzy over a bid to cut costs. As marketing always represents a significant cost-investment, they tend to be a convenient place to start the slash and agency fees are often top of that list.

But cutting costs should never be the sole driver of an agency review, particularly a media review.

There is no doubt that in this challenged environment there will be agencies prepared to take a client’s business for next to nothing.  But think carefully here.  Now is not the time to use cost as the primary lever for selecting an agency partner.

Now is the time to think about the twists and turns that will come our way over the next three years. 

As many clients align their businesses behind a customer-centred approach, this same thinking should apply to the construct of your agency mix.

What type of media partner can you work with to co-develop a true customer strategy? At the heart of a customer strategy is the use and application of data.

The single biggest opportunity for clients and their media agencies is to organise around data. This will be the biggest shift in the next few years; how brands use their own first party data and importantly,  how they use second and third party data as the backbone of media investment. 

Helping clients organise for using their own data for media buying has challenges. Moving beyond marketing teams and working deeply with varying iterations of a data governance function - that is, satisfying risk, compliance and legal teams on how data is used within media buying. 

Rolled into this is the looming end to 3rd party cookies which for many clients and agencies will change how we plan, buy and measure digital activity.

Our media ecosystem has fundamentally shifted this year; with media investment tracking 20-30% backwards month-on-month, it is inevitable that there will be shortfalls on annual media deals.

And what of the annual commitments? Are they relevant in this new, soft market? When so many brand budgets are still to be realised for this financial year, an annual commitment feels at best, ambitious. 

Rather than cheap, perhaps the new mantra should be ‘deep’. Which media publisher should a business go deep with and deliver value beyond a rate position.

Media publishers have amassed billions of data points on your potential customers. Going deep with a publisher around data can deliver extraordinary value.

The agencies that understand this dynamic and work with publishers to deliver deep relationships will be the ones delivering for their clients.

The role of media agencies is not diminished. If anything, its enhanced. But rather focusing on price and scale focus on the agency that can best guide you through the data driven opportunities that lie ahead.

Insist on transparency but pay fairly for this service. Delivering best practice methodologies in the use of data in media buying will reap rewards in the long term that far exceed the nickel and dime savings in the short term.

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Jen Davidson, Managing Partner

Tumbleturn Media

Jen Davidson is Managing Partner at Tumbleturn Media, a boutique media advisory service to help clients navigate a complex media and digital landscape.  She has had an extensive 25 year + career in media, both locally and internationally and across clients and agencies.  For the past 4.5 years Jen has consulted to some of Australia’s leading companies on a range of media challenges, including developing the right operational structures and models in a digital world.  In 2016, she worked with the AANA on developing the guidelines for media agency transparency. Prior to consulting, she was at the CBA Group for 8 years including as General Manager of Media, PR & Digital Channels.
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