It got us thinking. What should be included in an online process audit? And, once we put down the outline, we started asking if we ourselves could pass the audit for our own Interactive buying? Good intentions are one thing, but creating a paper trail that meets industry standards is another. So here is the challenge of the day. Can your Interactive planning and buying operation measure up to the following?
Do you have clear media objectives?
Do you have written plans, including specific goals, whether they are DR or branding?
Do you have written buying guidelines (timing, geography, sites to avoid, other restrictions)?
Do you have written authorization from the client to place the specific buys?
Do you issue schedules to the client showing what sites that they are going to be on and for what duration?
Do you have site signed Terms & Conditions supporting the schedules, or if you are going with vendor Ts & Cs, are the vendor Ts & Cs consistent with your master client agreement relative to issues such as privacy, data ownership and liability among others? (This is a major gotcha for many agencies as the buyer signing a site’s Ts & Cs has probably never seen their master client agreement.)
Do you have a regular reporting schedule to the client? Is it met on a timely basis?
Is your invoice system tied in to your authorization and IO system so that the client gets clear, detailed invoicing up front consistent with the schedule document that they have?
For email efforts, are you doing all you can do relative to various lists purchases to determine potential duplication between lists?
I am interested in other factors that should be on this list, so use the SPIN board and fire away. I recognize that all of the above is pretty basic. But it is clearly worthwhile to “look under the hood” from time to time to ensure that you are running a clean and above board operation. One of the many lessons from Enron is that the outside auditors are not catching everything that they should be. The media audit business is growing. Seldom does a client employ a media auditor that does not pay for itself. It is only a matter of time before the traditional media audit is extended to the Interactive space. Will you be ready?