When a client makes the decision to review their media agency relationship; the question quickly turns to how to manage it: done well, it’s a significant undertaking: done badly, advertisers will repent in leisure! Caveat emptor has never been truer.
No two advertisers are at the same stage in their brand journey, so each will have different objectives, requirements and expectations of the pitch process. The nuances of different international markets add a further layer of complexity that requires advertisers to carefully prepare for a multi-market pitch process.
Although there are many similarities across markets, for example each will want to see improved buying efficiencies and first class digital capabilities, the emphasis they place on the constituent elements can vary greatly.
In North America and Europe there is an increasing demand for content and digital first approaches borne out of the application of rigorous communications planning. The integration of channels and the use of data to derive insights upon which communication decisions can be made is a highly prized capability set, and the additional media value a pitch process can generate, while still important, is less emphasised because it is an expected outcome. In many East European, Asian and LATAM markets, media value and trading improvements are front and centre.
For many advertisers, this can be summed up as the difference between an owned, earned and paid focus (in that order), supported by trading innovation versus, buying improvements across paid channels with a nod to owned and earned. So, what is fast becoming a universal requirement – the creation, distribution and amplification of content on a macro and micro scale through multiple channels, powered by the application of data driven insights – is developing at a different pace in different places.
This dichotomy presents a challenge for global advertisers and in our experience, forcing a one size fits all approach everywhere leads to disappointment all around. While it takes more upfront effort to design a ‘horses for courses’ process, an outcome where everyone wins with better and more, than appears to succeed with worse and less is worth it because it leads to improvements all around!
Critical to the preparation of a multi-market media pitch is facing up to the challenges of organisational design, especially around the difficult questions of what to buy (out-source) and what to rent (in-source). With media now overlapping with content creation (creative!), CRM, native advertising, community and reputation management, marketing automation etc, what to pitch and where are fundamentally important questions.
Again, the answer for China may not be the same as for the US, even if the ultimate long-term ambition is.
Advertisers beware – the opportunity to galvanise change through a pitch is very appealing but real change, however great the expectation, will only come about with rigorous planning and preparation, and a sensitive understanding and tolerance for market differences, whatever the reasons for those differences and however frustrating they may be. So:
– Spend at least 50% of the time you allocate to the whole pitch process on preparation: understand where you are now and what the future state looks like.
– Carefully plan for regional and local dynamics – a beautifully choreographed ‘synchronised swim’ may look great but in a diversified media world, it may not be fit-for-purpose.
– Do not ignore the rent/buy capability questions, particularly when it comes to data ownership and control. Many advertisers are sleep walking into a great data give-away.
– With technology, decide what you need and how agnostic you want to be. Too many clients are locking themselves into technologies they don’t understand or can meaningfully integrate into their own stack.
– Define the rules of engagement with these technologies and what you want to own e.g. DMP, Adserving and what your agencies should manage on your behalf e.g. DSP, bid optimisation.
– When it comes to value improvement, prioritise the absolute over the relative– the only value that counts is what you can spend, or deliver back to the business.