Media is viewed as a “complex headache” by advertisers who are failing to provide leadership in this critical investment area, according to a new report from media change consultants ID Comms. The findings of the 2017 Global Media Thinking Survey reveal the poor strategic approaches currently being applied to media investment.
The report, which is based on responses from both advertisers and agencies, shows widespread agreement that advertisers are generally failing to lead on key media decisions. Agencies meanwhile were criticized for failing to provide strategic support in six key areas including the ability to provide wholly neutral and objective planning services.
Such poor performance comes despite the fact that 97 percent of those who took part agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “advertisers who take a more strategic and thoughtful approach to media will deliver a stronger marketing performance”.
Advertiser performance in this area is particularly critical because 79 percent of respondents also believe advertiser marketing teams should be primarily responsible for defining the advertiser’s strategic approach including the media objectives, operating model and KPIs.
Asked to score performance on a scale of one to five, where five is outstanding and one is unacceptable, the survey found that advertisers fail to meet expectations (a score of three or less) in four key areas – setting clear KPIs for media, having a point of view on ROI for media, having a well established media community internally and leading media decisions from marketing rather than procurement.
Advertiser respondents scored themselves an average of 7 percent higher on these questions than their agency counterparts but some agency respondents claimed this merely reflected their lack of knowledge. “Capability levels in advertisers are at an all-time low. Desperately needs an injection of smart agency thinkers,” remarked one agency participant.
“The lack of media knowledge inside many of even the largest advertisers is making it harder for them to leverage the opportunities that smart media thinking delivers. This is why many of the best campaigns nearly always come from the same clients. They understand media, work more closely with their agency partners, think strategically and see the opportunities faster. Brands that treat media as a commodity and a cost will never actually get the best return from their media budgets,” said Tom Denford, Chief Strategy Officer at ID Comms.
Other Key Findings:
A Complex Headache: Agencies and advertisers have vastly different views of the way that advertisers treated media. Asked whether advertisers viewed media on a scale ranging from ‘a complex headache’ (score 1) to ‘an exciting opportunity’ (score 7) agency respondents scored advertisers at 3.2 while advertisers ranked themselves at 4.1.
Buying Not Planning: Advertisers were viewed as significantly more focused on media buying and efficiency (scoring 3.2) rather than media planning and effectiveness by agency respondents as well as more likely to view agencies as commodity suppliers (score 3.5) rather than strategic partners.
Agency Failures: Agency capabilities were viewed as failing to meet expectations of advertisers in six key areas including their ability to provide insight driven strategic planning, having a culture of innovation, provide thought leadership in media, provide neutral and objective planning recommendations, identify relevant data fueled insight and integrate owned, earned and paid media. The latter was the worst area with advertisers scoring agencies at just 2.4 (where 3 is ‘meets expectations’).
“Real strategic leadership on the advertiser side would dramatically improve media performance. The fact that advertisers still have gaps and doubts in this area is a real black mark. Advertisers need to play their part in providing agencies with great media briefs and a process that allows them to do great work that adds value,” said Mr Denford.
The findings are based on answers from 179 respondents including senior marketers from companies with combined annual media budgets of more than USD 22 billion. Agency respondents included all major media agency holding groups as well as some independent media agencies.