Media Auditor Raids OMD, Plans New Research To Measure Ad Accountability

Weeks after hanging a U.S. shingle, ambitious U.K.-based media auditor Billetts has struck again, raiding a top agency executive to oversee the development of new media research that could become the new yardstick for agencies and media alike. Billetts this week is expected to announce it has hired Andrew Green to head its global research and consulting services.

For the past several years, Green has served as managing partner and director of communication insights at OMD, the top research and strategy post at the Omnicom media network. The move is significant, because it signals that Billetts may not be content with simply auditing the performance of media agencies for advertisers, but now is looking to conduct primary research that would be used to benchmark their performance.

While he declined to specify the kind of research he would be conducting, Green told MediaDailyNews he plans to develop tools and resources that can help "quantify" the value of media buys. As an example, he cited research Billetts has already conducted in Europe establishing the relative value of TV commercials that appear in different pod positions during a commercial break.



"In the U.S., that may not be applicable, because they theoretically sell fair rotations in the pod. But if you look at commercial schedules you will see that they're not always fair rotations. Then you have to determine what they've paid for that," he noted, adding, "This is all about accountability. This is just accelerating that."

For OMD, Green's departure likely is a significant lost, as there has been a significant talent crunch among seasoned media research pros at the major agencies. An OMD insider said the agency likely would be looking outside for a new candidate and would be seeking someone with broad international media research experience.

For U.K.-based Billetts, Green comes aboard at a time when the company is seeking to establish a foothold in the U.S. marketplace. Billetts founder has set up camp in the U.S. and recently announced a new venture with spot TV ad cost tracker Neil Klar of SQAD and media planning consultant Erwin Ephron. That venture, Media Performance Monitor America, is headed by P.J. Leary, a former top media executive at several top U.S. agencies.

The venture, which is being bankrolled by Billetts, claims to already have six major U.S. advertisers on board and is expected to accelerate the pace of media auditing in the U.S. marketplace. In the U.S. a number of independent auditors have emerged to help marketers evaluate the results of the media buys they get from their ad agencies and the media. They include: Colorado-based Advantage Media, San Francisco-based Hawk Media, Chicago-based Media Analysis Plus, as well as newcomer Media IQ, which formed by former Initiative Media chief Mike Lotito.

While many of these services focus on the qualitative results of advertising schedules, most deal only with television and usually with just spot TV. Like those services, Billetts' U.S. unit initially will focus on TV advertising buys, but given its alliance with SQAD likely will be aggressive in benchmarking the quantitative delivery of media schedules, including costs.

While Billetts claims that two-thirds of marketers employ such auditors to review their media buying results, the U.S. consultants claim it actually is much smaller in the States, though it is growing rapidly.

The trends has been accelerated recently by a number of high-profile media buying discrepancies and by the emergence of electronic advertising verification systems that have detected extremely high rates of advertising schedule discrepancies.

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