Working Well with your Ad Agency


Despite the Federal Governments well documented cuts to advertising spending, moving from a peak of $188 million in 2000 to $72 million in 2002 (and similar spending predicted in 2003), the public sector remains one of the nations biggest advertisers.

The expectation on the public sector marketing directors from senior management is that there needs to be measures in place to gauge the effectiveness of marketing activity.

Marketers with an edge are the ones that have a system to ensure that they maximise their return on investment and control their costs associated with their ad spend. This comes down to understanding the basis of the client/agency agreements and managing relationships.

The issues facing some government departments in this area are a lack of skill in financial control of the marketing spend, and budgets that are watered down as each department is assigned their small slice of the pie.

This makes it difficult to work with an ad agency because an under-resourced environment means government departments have unrealistic expectations of value.

Some of the keys to improving effectiveness in an advertisers working relationship with its agency are:

1. While wanting to minimise wastage, departments working with small budgets should be reasonable in their expectation of what can be delivered.

2. Establish a transparent and accountable relationship with the agency by understanding and agreeing exactly how the account should be serviced.

3. Every creative and media brief to the agency should include the departments stated objectives. Not only must these objectives be reasonable, but they must be measurable - and measured - at the completion of the campaign.

4. Assign someone in the organisation to the task of overseeing the terms of the agreement and keeping a regular line of communication with the agency.

The tender process also doesn't elicit the best responses from agencies. For many agencies, the time and money can't be justified, especially if they suspect the tender is satisfying a legal requirement, and the agency selection process is already decided. To get the best responses, agencies need assurance that it is a level playing field.

The undertaking of regular Contract Compliance Audits allows the client and advertiser the opportunity to independently review the basis of the relationship. This often reveals the need for agency relations training that provides marketing staff with an understanding of ad agency systems that will allow them to liaise more effectively with their agency colleagues.

Published in Government News, November 2003