Let he who is without sin….

Having just read @markritson ‘s article in @MarketingWeekEd on “Media Buying’s deadly sins…” several thoughts come to mind. There is a lot of merit (as always) in what Mark writes. The issue of ‘Trust‘ for a start – it may well have been accelerated by the more recent ‘lifting of the veil’ on the ignorance (by the customers aka Advertisers) with regards the murkiness of ‘digital and programmatic buying’. But the signs were there all along with regards arbitrage in traditional media buying. Hard data on trust (or lack of) was already there and incredibly was provided by both parties – Advertisers & Agencies. Over the past 5 years when evaluating each other, Advertisers had signalled a clear and continuous decline in the trust they placed in their Agency partners. Equally noteworthy, the Agencies knew it as reported by Aprais in Market Leader in 2016.

But what the data also showed is that both parties have a role to play as highlighted in this article “It Takes Two to Tango” published around the same time. There is hard, empirical data that shows the extent to which Advertisers and their Agencies are ‘joined at the hip’ and that the weaknesses of one can have a direct impact on the other. The better the Advertiser is at managing its side of the equation, the better the service the Agency will provide. As @michaelfarmer (and others) have astutely pointed out on many occasions, Advertisers have been ‘putting the squeeze’ on Agencies to deliver more and more for less and less. As Newton’s 2nd Law states “for each and every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction”. Did no one really think that there would not be some consequence from this kind of situation?

I’ll finish with one word of caution and one recommendation. First the caution – in the short term it may appear that solutions are on the horizon with the ‘moves in-house’ and encroachment by the Big 5 Consultancy firms as Mark outlines. But the reality is that, when it comes down to it, it is still a people business in a Client-Supplier relationship. As behavioural economics shows in Dan Ariely’s pivotal book “The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty”, the limitations of the human ability to wrestle with the rational vs emotional, the problem will not go away it will just resurface in another way.

The recommendation – the data shown in the Market Leader article, based on over 16,000 Client-Agency relationship evaluations, shows that when there is data and dialogue both parties can achieve better performance which leads to ultimately better work and satisfaction all around. There is hope but it starts with measurement, dialogue and action around the findings.