In a recent marketing agency satisfaction survey among 1,900 business leaders in marketing, media, and procurement by Avidan Strategies (#ComGurus): 82% of clients point to a fee plus a performance based bonus as how they want to compensate their agencies. Yet only 7% point to compensation/fee issues as instigating agency reviews. This seems a bit schizophrenic to me. The survey points several guns at agencies heads to think more digital and more lean, while increasing the effectiveness of their work on the bottom line. In fact, 78% of those surveyed also responded that agency reviews are triggered by business performance issues. Nearly 2/3rd cited dissatisfaction with the creative work also put reviews in the heads of the brand.
It would seem that advertisers want the silver bullet idea that will shoot them to the top of consumers or B2B clients every waking moment. The promises made by traditional agencies regarding digital (and mobile for that matter – at least not yet) have not been met competently nor fulfilled the ROI the CMO needs to see to continue to spend without accountability. This is why 73% of the respondents believe that small and medium size agencies are more creative.
Seems the writing is on the wall to embrace smaller budgets and higher expectations. Expectations that come with having to earn your keep, not just be able to play the “pitch it and forget it, try again – OOPS I DID IT AGAIN” syndrome I have heard my own advertiser clients and friends complain of. I find it amazing that brands have taken this long to call out for performance to be part of the mix.
Actually, if advertisers knew how to actually play the performance game in-house, they would scrap all but the creative shops that can churn out directed media unit pieces and content – at a reasonable price. Online performance marketing is actually in a renaissance currently. With company’s such as ScrubKit and CPADetective and a few others, leading the way to cleaning up the often murky traffic mix that has been associated with the data and sales created by the online performance marketing channel.
In fact, there is a movement among top Cost per Action (CPA) business owners to tighten up the wagons. Those who may have played loose with complying with guidelines and standards set by the FTC (and for that matter the IAB) are now being outed from traffic deals and more transparency is starting to emerge from those leading CPA networks. The recent shakeout of once dominant firms in the CPA World has sent ripple effects through the community. It hasn’t been the government that is cleaning up CPA, it is the shaky foundations that companies rest on when they build networks out of low quality and fraudulent data/sales. The collapses have given a new energy to those who have been doing things right for their advertisers.
So the survey of advertisers showed they are seriously underwhelmed by the performance of their agencies. Maybe they should look at the performance channel a bit more closely. Affiliate marketing can and does reap companies millions and millions every year. The reason the successful ones survive is that they are dedicated to working with their performance marketing agency. To achieving success and creating a partnership that lives and breathes everyday.
Successful affiliate program managers are dynamic with their publisher partners and understand that to get affiliates to sell, they have to be attractive. Not just in terms of payout, but in terms of supplying them with the tools to be successful. It’s more than banners and text links, or supplying product feeds. It takes content that is fresh and constantly updated. It takes deep integration into the publisher’s visitor flow. And it takes creative thinking that isn’t about blowing someone’s mind with a $500K TV commercial – that will probably get time shifted anyway. It’s creatively thinking about the path their customer takes through their partners properties and weaving themselves seamlessly, even subconsciously into their visitors consciousness. It is a seamless integration while knowing the landscape and avoiding the landmines. And that is something traditional agencies do not have an answer for.
Underwhelmed I should say.