Audits Won't Transform Media, Vision And Excitement Will

Media needs vision. It needs excitement. It used to have both these things and they inspired fantastic work.

Recently however, vision has been suffocated by complexity and excitement has been replaced by confusion. We seem to spend too much time looking into what media’s not doing for advertisers rather than what it could do for them.

There’s no shame in admitting that media is complex and can be a struggle for marketers. But struggles are meant to be overcome and the prize for the advertisers who lift their heads and take control of their media is huge.

So my vision for a new excitement around media is based on three core principles that can be safely followed by the vast majority of brands.

Advertisers should be:

  • inspired by the opportunity of media and not confused / intimidated by the complexity of media; 
  • feel safe that they can work productively with media agencies; and
  • know that their media investments are accountable and drive a business outcome.



Building that world requires confidence and knowledge and we already see brands taking steps to replace the knowledge they have let slip.

Many are, for the first time, taking their time to properly consider their future requirements for media, at a strategic level. For many this is a first. They are looking into the future to anticipate how the media landscape might change, how consumer behavior could change and what this might mean in terms of their own marketing organizations as well as their media agency partners.

The change is apparent from the recent news that P&G have hired Gerry D’Angelo as global head of media, the closest thing to a Media Officer that you’re likely to find. P&G, always ahead of the pack, is investing in media management and clearly taking it seriously.

Building that world also requires trust on both sides. Agencies have to open up but so too do advertisers. They have to learn to let agencies into their business if they are to benefit from the full power of media.

Central to that process is the need for CMOs to change the narrative internally. Many marketing organizations have an on-going attitude of not trusting agencies. A positive message from the CMO can ensure they are more open with data and insights, for example, that will allow media plans to be more powerful and help demonstrate the value of these partners.

With better understanding of business needs and an advertiser that sees media as an investment in growth, rather than a cost – it is possible to achieve a productive working relationship based on shared goals and payment by results.

Closer alignment on goals and rewards changes the working relationship for everyone in that marketing organization towards their agencies.  

Building that world also requires agencies to remodel what they provide. Agencies certainly face a different set of challenges in the next five years to those faced across the last five years, not least in defending their businesses from the onslaught from management consultancies and ad:tech companies, while still attracting business from marketers. 

Advertisers are going to be more forthright and specific in their demands for agency resource and the accompanying terms of business. This is a process that will be somewhat painful for agencies to adjust to. Ultimately, however, adapting to and embracing this step-change will help them grow their businesses in new and exciting ways.

Change is coming. Brands, agencies and consultants need to move away from obsessing about cheaper pricing and bigger discounts. Auditing media agencies is important, but more and more auditing is not what media is all about. Nobody ever audited their way to growth.

To improve topline growth through media requires the CMO to change the narrative around media to one of strategic investment. Agencies can play their part in this conversation by opening up around transparency and demonstrating the amazing value a well-managed partner can provide.

None of this will be easy but the rewards will be huge. The brands that get smart about media will be those that thrive in the next decade. The agencies that build a model to serve these clients in the new era of digital and data inspired media creativity will win more and more pitches.

Let us all excite in the opportunities of media, with commitment, then we’ll have a healthy, productive media industry once again.

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