Recounting the commodities cost

I read with interest in the latest edition of NZ Marketing magazine about the issues around media being commoditised and how the four representatives of the CAANZ media committee propose addressing it. Strangely, these representatives are quick to put the blame on advertisers and procurement people but don’t acknowledge that media agencies have been responsible for the commoditising of media – not just overseas, but here in New Zealand.

The media currency, whether it’s reach and frequency, TARPs, cost per click etc, is by and large driven and heavily promoted by media planners/buyers. With a strong focus on how much to pay and how much can be discounted or rebated, it’s no wonder advertisers think media is simply about how cheap it is to buy (and who can implement it cheaply).

This point is highlighted by the examples mentioned by the commentators, but is it unfair for an advertiser to ask the question of how cheap can you buy? I believe it’s their job to ask the question, but it doesn’t mean you have to respond by offering cheap buying or discounts. Similarly, if you respond to an online brief or a 30 page questionnaire, you are endorsing this practice, so don’t complain.

I strongly believe the value is in media strategy and planning and not in buying, which is simply an implentation of the strategy/plan at the best possible rate. However, the problem as I see it is that media agencies all too often allow buying to be the tail that wags the dog, meaning it becomes the face of media, which of course leads to the focus being on cost and not on thinking and other true value attributes.

The solution is that buying has to be isolated from strategy/planning and for strategy/planning to be more closely aligned to creative.

For media agencies to be seen as invaluable they need to invest in their own resources and recognise that putting the pressure on media suppliers to provide ideas, strategy, planning and implementation that gets passed off as the agency’s work is not adding value.

Finally, I was bemused that although the commentators stated there is a need for better, more in-depth understanding of social marketing, which, coincidentally was next to a half page advertisement for the excellent Social Media Junction conference that I attended, I observed that I was probably the only media agency person there, and certainly the only one from Wellington. Not a great look for media agencies when the conference was heavily attended by advertisers and PR companies.

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