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Over the past twenty years as the leading provider of U.S. media auditing services, one of the first questions asked by prospective clients is “how will the agency react”?  In general there are two different types of reactions:

  1. The agency is receptive and realizes that the media audit is part of the client’s business requirements.  They don’t perceive the audit as a negative, but rather as an opportunity to further demonstrate, from an unbiased point of view, how well they are performing for the client.  Typically media agencies that are receptive have a client that has documented what is to be measured and how it is to be measured.  This level of proactive performance management is the make or break difference in a positive vs. negative client/media agency relationship.
  2. The agency is apprehensive about the media audit and feels that the client is using the media audit as a tool to marginalize the media agency.  The media agency is keenly aware that the client is the type that does not document changes, media buying guidelines and/or exemptions to buying guidelines.  The agency approaches the process with concern from the outset, fearing that the lack of formal processes and documented expectations (such as those described above) will not lead to a positive conclusion.

Last month I sat in on a meeting with a major Mad Avenue media buying service.  They brought key staff to our offices in St. Louis to discuss a posting/auditing issue w/a Spot TV client.  To be specific, there were pretty significant disparities between their post-buys and our media audits.  How could that be? We’re both subscribing to and using the same Nielsen data.  The meeting in St. Louis concluded with a recommendation to the client that we meet with the media agency at one of their regional offices, so that we could dig deeper in to the disparities – as we felt that they might lead to process opportunities.

The outcome from the meeting was significant for the client:

  1. Both media auditor and media agency now have a better understanding of each other’s systems, and in some cases, system limitations
  2. A specific methodological difference was discovered and a solution implemented
  3. An agreed upon plan of action was presented to the client, with both media auditor and media agency in full agreement
  4. The agency came away with improvements to their current processes

I have to confess that not all media agency meetings are this positive and productive.  All too often the agency feels vilified and as a result the level of contentiousness gets in the way of doing what needs to be done, which simply put is to work in the clients’ best interest.

After seeing the obvious upside in the above referenced meetings, we will be working harder to facilitate these kinds of meetings vs. spending time embroiled with agencies in non-productive, contentious behaviors.  The sooner and more fully that we all learn to work together in our mutual clients’ best interest, the more positive outcomes will be for the client.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like "Is Your Agency Preparing For the Announced Nielsen Measurement Changes?"

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