Agency of Record. In the world of advertising, agencies strive for this label. However, for Long Form Direct Response, this has become a rarity. More and more, marketers are working with multiple agencies. While the upfront implications of this may appear positive, ultimately, this can harm not only one marketer’s campaign, but the general state of the industry.
Why are marketers using multiple agencies? There are two core reasons: Long Form media is finite. Any given station will only open so much time for 28:30 programming and many don’t have long form inventory available at all. Marketers seem to believe that they need more than one agency to get a sufficient quantity of media time. The second factor often has to do with creating a competitive atmosphere among their media partners so as to facilitate a “hunger” within each agency.
As with all things, there are pros and cons to this thinking. Every agency has time that’s proprietary to them. But does that third, fourth, fifth, etc. agency have enough unique time that it outweighs the risk? In most cases, the answer is no. So what exactly is at risk? The biggest risk in using a multitude of agencies is that is drives up media rates. Each campaign has its own set of characteristics and therefore performs best in particular stations and time periods. When many agencies are targeting the same stations and time periods, rates increase due to bidding against each other for that same time. This also creates a false demand which has a domino effect across the industry as a whole. Another factor that has had a negative effect on pricing is the increase of newer and smaller agencies over the past couple years. These agencies need to build a historical database. In order to do so and learn the worth of the media, they secure time at whatever cost. Inevitably they end up overpaying and a marketer could have booked that exact same time through a larger, more established agency at a much better rate! Again, false demand is created, rates escalate, and the industry suffers. In a worst case scenario, a client may be pre-empting himself and not even know it! This isn’t speculation- we have seen it happen first hand! Another risk factor is the high level of management that’s required when several agencies are buying for one campaign. Multiple agencies booking the same show will inevitably lead to airings being booked too close together. Rarely does this fare well for results. And with agencies making changes to their schedules on a daily basis, truly avoiding conflicts can be overwhelming for a marketer to say the least. Even then, the likelihood of something slipping through the cracks is high.
We may be biased, but we think working with a large, experienced agency is the way to go. A company such as Mercury Media offers buying clout, category experience, flexibility, and an extensive database with a wealth of Long Form knowledge. The notion of “finite inventory” is refuted because we already own 15-20% of all Long Form inventory and are able to scale quickly as our clients have the need. By having AOR, we are able to have full visibility into a client’s campaign and best manage rates and responses. We can buy better, plan better, and get as much inventory as necessary and at the best rates! We can ramp up without stepping on ourselves and ensure a client is growing strategically. Bottom line- we can make a campaign THRIVE!
So when it comes to agencies, is more, merrier? Not really. For clients could secure the same media inventory at lower costs by narrowing their agency roster and making their agencies take responsibility for managing the buys.
As Vice President, Director of Client Services, Olga Ackad manages the company’s client services division in Santa Monica which is fully dedicated to closely managing the media campaigns for each of our clients. Her team advises clients in all aspects of a direct marketing campaign in order to maximize performance. Olga has a well-rounded and all encompassing knowledge of the Direct Response industry.