Recently my agency was interviewed to handle the traditional portion of a media campaign for a regional client. Our interviewer was the digital agency of record for this client. Not uncommon these days. But should they be the interviewers if they don’t know what to ask? It’s typical these days, that a major agency vets other agencies to silently do a portion of a client’s work, even if the client is unaware.
This national digital agency is very reputable and known by many and I’m sure they have earned their reputation. They have first party data, third party data and dashboards galore! The problem, however, is they have no concept of how traditional media works, especially for a regional client, so they truly don’t have the expertise to ask relevant questions to determine who will service their client the best. And often they seem more concerned about the commission rate than the talents of the agencies they are interviewing.
My agency, A3 Media is a full-service media agency, with a highly skilled team of specialists, with decades of experience in the traditional, digital, mobile and influencer segments, but what we are best at, is understanding the challenges and nuances that individual markets may cause for a regional company. It’s truly a specialized field and not tackled by many, at least not tackled well.
Our industry truly doesn’t have a middle tier for traditional media, they have national and local. So, what happens when a large company needs solid representation in multiple markets that may or may not be connected? Most agencies aren’t built to handle dozens of individual markets and still deliver accurate and unified metrics to the client so they can combine and analyze disjointed markets and audience sizes.
So, if you and your company or agency are in this position, I have compiled a list of questions you should ask each agency before you decide who is right for the job.
Discussion Points for Agency Interviews:
- Individual market research, to what depth?
- How much regional buying experience does your agency have?
- How many markets and number of states is your largest regional client in?
- How many launches have you completely controlled?
- Is there a separate planning team, a separate buying team or one team?
- Can they unify unbalanced metrics in traditional mediums from dissimilar DMAs?
- Do they use national or local media outlet offices?
- What rate card discount should we expect?
- Is all your trafficking done by software, manually or both?
- How do they handle make-goods?
- Added value?
- What is your typical vendor payables schedule, 30, 45, 60 or 90 days?
- Have you ever refunded a client money?
But what might be the most important question of all, is why! After they answer each question, ask them why they handle their matters that way and listen to the answers carefully.
An agency who is truly skilled in regional buying will clearly let you know it’s for the client’s benefit and easily be able to explain, where the client’s benefits lie.
My hunch is most will give you answers that prove easier for the agency because they aren’t built to service a regional client properly.
It’s much harder to do regional buying correctly and it takes more time and effort. That is why I tell every client they don’t want to pay us by the hour. But if correctly done the clients’ benefits will be so superior that in the end the client will receive so much more quality media for their money that the agency ends up not costing them any of their overall media budget.
Because a media budget is an all-inclusive number. It includes the cost of the media, often creative reproduction, and all associated commissions. If one agency with a higher commission rate (20%) delivers 20 – 35% more quality media than another less expensive commission agency (10%) the client wins by choosing the higher commissioned agency.
Many companies and procurement departments look at the bottom line, when in fact they should be looking at the overall value received for their total budget.
In the end to make the right decision, the client and the vetting agency need to have more knowledge about buying regionally than most have. And that my friends…is where most go wrong!
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