Against a background of increasing cost pressure, a major UK retailer enlisted our services to assist them with renegotiating their media agency contract. The critical task was to unlock additional value from their investment, with a specific brief to leverage and repatriate savings from the marketing plan, effectively delivering the same for less.
The terms of the client’s media contract meant that incremental value from media buying performance had begun to dissipate, with over-deliveries from the existing contract now threatening future returns. Additionally, an increasing proportion of offline and online investment was not covered by trading commitments.
The agency’s Performance Based Remuneration Model was complex, thus incentivised the wrong planning and buying behaviours, creating unauthorised over-deliveries in poor quality environments.
We created baselines for all media spend related to fees, rates, and adtech. This enabled us to forecast a tangible and realistic savings target. We also ran a workshop with key stakeholders to align and prioritise requirements.
From this, a bespoke RFP was created with clear objectives for both the commercial and buying models. The process delivered the following outcomes:
- A simplified set of media pricing commitments capturing 100% of on/offline spend were implemented, driving significant improvement in overall value
- Quality hurdles and buying KPIs were set, ensuring that communication levels would be maintained
- The agency agreed to absorb over-deliveries outstanding from the previous contract
- Buying controls relating to over and under delivery were implemented, and regular media value reconciliations were introduced to improve spend management
- A formal measurement methodology was created to ensure all parties have a clear understanding of the new targets, metrics and the terms
- Additional value was identified by the introduction of a more transparent programmatic operating model, agreed service deliverables and the formation of outcome-based digital targets set against client business KPIs
The project successfully over-achieved against the retailer’s cost challenge, creating >10% improved media value, thereby improving the performance terms of the contract and negating the requirement for an open pitch.
Our introduction of a bespoke mechanic ‘hard-wired’ budget savings into media plans, ensuring real PO savings could be leveraged and repatriated to the business.
We applied tighter buying controls to ensure the agency became accountable for minimising under/over-deliveries, and implemented a new system for reporting spend and tracking value delivery.
We introduced a new governance process empowering marketing to authorise over-deliveries beyond a minimum level, ensuring that budgets are always optimised and the right inventory is selected.
MediaSense now provide ongoing performance tracking reviews to monitor commitments at a faster pace, surfacing actionable insights that help the agency to fine tune delivery.
A long-standing MediaSense client required a review of their digital media campaigns to assess the effectiveness of their programmatic media planning and buying. The objective was to gain better visibility of how budgets were being spent by the agency and to evaluate the agency’s optimisation strategy.
The assessment goal was to surface evidence of campaign optimisation and to better understand how the agency reallocated spend from underperforming media to deliver optimal value and how this impacted campaign results.
MediaSense proposed the Digital Performance Analytics tool, DiPA™, to analyse the media campaign. The analysis included:
- Evaluation of log level DSP data and granular performance data at scale to identify evidence of optimisation by the agency
- KPI and media planning reviews on video and display inventory to ensure campaign goal alignment
- Media quality reviews to disclose the level of brand safety and to help minimise fraud
The review of the agency’s optimisation strategy revealed:
- A high level of impressions being served at night, achieving poor conversions
- A focus on conversion, but not quality KPIs
- Optimisation techniques were limited to conversion and creative KPIs
- A significant opportunity to introduce additional optimisation layers, including domain level and daypart KPIs
Following the analysis, future campaigns are now planned with more structural optimisation layers (line item, domain, daypart, creative) and a number of new KPIs (conversions, conversion rate, engagement, viewability) have been introduced, improving overall campaign performance. Furthermore, a daypart targeted approach has also been introduced into the planning strategy to minimise the level of impressions served at night-time.
Implementation of the optimisation recommendations delivered 15% improvement in sales volumes over the course of the campaign.
Introduction of quality KPIs (such as viewability) ensured genuine campaign conversions that were in-view, human and fraud-free.
MediaSense provided the client with significantly improved visibility of the data and technology platforms used by the agency for more accurate analysis of future campaigns.
A global drinks brand required a 12-month review of digital media activity at a time when the company had adopted a programmatic led media strategy and their media planning and buying had moved agencies.
Agency fees were submitted on a campaign by campaign basis, however, the client was uncertain of how much of their media investment was going towards working media due to opaque data and technology costs.
A clear and objective assessment of media investment across all digital channels was required, with full visibility of supply chain transparency and working media calculations.
Rigorous analysis of planning and buying documents was carried out through MediaSense’s DiPA™ solution. Data and technology reports alongside supply chain costs were reviewed to create full visibility of media investment. Furthermore, bespoke analysis was introduced to create more transparency for the client.
The review revealed:
- Inconsistent FTE fees applied across multiple campaigns ranging from 18-33% of total cost
- Overall working media efficiency was 20% below market average
- All costs associated with data and technology used in advertising campaigns were not transparent
The review unearthed the opportunity for the client to review and negotiate a fixed FTE fee for all campaigns and create a consistent, zero-tolerance approach across all non-transparent data and technology costs. In addition, the introduction of continual monitoring by category would give clearer visibility of supply chain costs.
The analysis provided the insight for the client to negotiate a new FTE contract at a fixed rate, significantly below the previous average.
We provided a 30% improvement in average working media efficiency, and helped ensure the agency created a consistent fee structure across all campaigns.
The client now has full transparency of the digital supply chain across media, data and technology, with direct access to technology partner platforms.
“MediaSense’s digital evaluation tool has allowed us to regain control of our programmatic supply chain and improve the transparency and efficiency of our media investment.”
We were asked by a financial services company looking to support a statutory review of its media agency contract. Their agency relationship was mature, and a trusted and progressive partnership had been established.
In recent years the advertiser had increased investment into TV, therefore a key objective of the review was to secure improved media value at the “leading edge” of market performance without compromising campaign impact or visibility.
The brand had a history of regular pool-based media auditing with its buying performance reported in the top quartile of market performance. For this reason, the incumbent media auditor had advised that minimal additional value was available.
We disagreed. Our experience is that traditional pool-based auditing methodologies lack transparency and limit advertisers’ opportunity to extract incremental value. As participants in a pool, brands become conditioned by the benchmarks themselves and are constrained by standard metrics which are applied to all brands, irrespective of their objectives.
MediaSense prefers to use a value-based media auditing approach which asks a simple question “How can we achieve more of our desired outcomes for the same price or the same outcomes at a lower capital cost?” A value-based audit identifies more opportunities for extracting value and improving performance with a customised assessment of media buying strategy and execution.
This diagnostic approach draws upon all the potential media value levers to achieve better results for brands. Brands are also able to re-patriate value and plan forwards more cost-effectively with this auditing methodology.
MediaSense proposed to design a new TV buying model to unlock more media value and from TV budgets to reinvest in other areas of the marketing plan.
We facilitated a workshop with key stakeholders to redefine a new set of KPIs, aligned to business goals rather than standardised metrics.
The key to unlocking value was the agreement of a single target audience, to provide transparency on the absolute price paid (cost per GRP) for reporting purposes and a refreshed focus for the agency.
Baseline data was collected to establish targets in the following four areas:
- A cost KPI that empowered the agency to utilise rate negotiation and campaign optimisation to deliver the targeted saving
- The adoption of a weekly coverage KPI building upon marketing effectiveness learnings to ensure that communication thresholds were maintained or improved
- Continuous measurement of priority hygiene quality metrics including peak, position in break, and centre breaks
- The inclusion within cost targets for ‘special’ or mandated programming to ensure all spend is addressable, thus minimising value ‘leakage’ through unmeasured spend
Building on this data we designed a ‘TV Optimisation Challenge’ to capture the agency’s offer, underpinned by a detailed buying measurement methodology. This ensured that all parties had a clear understanding of the new targets and the rules under which they would be measured.
A successful outcome was achieved which far exceeded the client’s expectations, creating incremental media value of over 10%.
This approach unlocked significant savings opportunities that had been overlooked in the previous audit model. By switching from a relative to absolute cost metric the agency was free to explore optimisation efficiencies through changes to the channel mix, trading audience mix, and programme mix to deliver the planning audience at the lowest capital cost.
Continuous measurement of the value improvement demonstrated that the brand’s market advantage had been significantly improved.
The inclusion of specials ensured that 100% of brand investment will now be measured and locked down anticipated savings.
MediaSense provides quarterly performance tracking reviews to ensure that the agency remained accountable for delivering against its commitments. A series of ‘campaign deep-dives’ were designed to provide additional analysis of the agency’s buying to objectives, to surface actionable insights and to allow the agency to continue fine-tuning their performance.
A longstanding FTSE 100 client with substantial global footprint and scale approached us to assist them in conducting a review of their existing operating models and future marketing requirements.
As part of the process, they asked us to go to market on their behalf, so as to advise on the best approach to media performance and commercial governance.
Ultimately, they needed to gain greater clarity on how they should reconfigure their operating models and organise their agencies to deliver dynamic marketing and integrated communications.
This involved a series of interviews and research with stakeholders, which culminated in a detailed brief to holding companies, designed to gain a better understanding of the current marketplace.
The client had enjoyed a lengthy and trusted relationship with the incumbent, who had managed all their marketing services to date. They felt, however, that the approach had become antiquated, lacking leadership, agility and accountability.
The goal of this ‘market discovery’ process was to gain a solid understanding of new and innovative approaches to operating models, as well as ways of working, to inform a comprehensive brief to the incumbent.
Interviews were conducted with key stakeholders, the findings of which gave us four key areas to focus on:
- Operating Models
- Dynamic content optimisation
- Digital capabilities
- Remuneration models
These four areas were explored further through interviews with a number of peer companies and desk research. The findings helped identify how best in class creative was being developed and deployed for efficiency, and how effectiveness was being optimised.
The last stage of the process was the deployment of an anonymous brief to all global holding companies and industry leaders. The responses to the brief helped the client understand the various operating models and ways of working employed by different agency groups.
Our report summarised the findings across the four themes, drawn from interviews with stakeholders and peer companies, and responses from Holding Companies. This was then shared with the client, making recommendations on the core areas, including future operating models and partner selection.
All findings from this market discovery process were synthesised in a report and presented to the client.
Eight key attributes of modern operating models were identified, as well as key learnings across the four themes, substantiated with insights and learnings gained from the various interviews, submissions and meetings.
This report informed the structure of an RFP brief to the incumbent Holding Company. Its core purpose was to ensure that they were challenged to deliver a forward-thinking fit-for-purpose model that would benefit the client.
Our report provided reference points and benchmarks which could be used to evaluate against the incumbent’s proposal.
The client was also able to understand more about the overall media holding agency landscape, including different P&L structures and future agency models. This allowed for greater confidence in their future dealings with the incumbent to demand greater accountability, sharper performance and stronger value outcomes.