By Stephen Broderick, Managing Partner, Media Marketing Compliance (MMC)
As the world begins to open up again, so too does our industry.
Brands looking to make up for lost time, and projects, are investing heavily in their established brand marketing with many also bolstering their position in the direct-to-consumer market to stand out against competitors.
UK advertising spend is now predicted to rise quicker than GDP, growing by 18.2% this year and a further 7.7% in 2022, by which time the market will be worth a whopping £30 billion. The pandemic had a profound impact on our industry; but this statistic illustrates a changing attitude to investment as the industry recovers
While it’s encouraging to see that the industry is set to rebound, it won’t come without challenges. This rapid growth creates an even greater need for transparency and brings with it greater benefits that can be gained from clients having visibility into how their ad spend is handled.
An increase in ad spend also means an increase in the potential for wasted spend as well as an increase in the need to understand what benefits and savings are associated with a client’s ad spend. Dramatic changes in spend levels and media mix can lead to issues like pricing fluctuations, increasing unapproved inventory media use, inappropriate staffing plans and unpredictable rebate implications to name but a few. This is where an independent compliance firm can offer real commercial benefits as we will review and audit all third-party contracts to ensure ad spend reaches the intended media and that brands are fully benefitting from the use of agents to place that spend
An open and transparent relationship between client and agency is critical in enabling brands to launch new campaigns with confidence, comfortable in the knowledge of what they are spending, where that spend is going and how their marketing objectives are being facilitated by the agencies they employ.
Financial compliance auditing focuses on improving this transparency. The homebound nature of working during the pandemic has had some interesting impacts on compliance auditing, most notably the transition to remote auditing Remote working has not only helped speed up the overall process but it has also massively reduced the agency resource required to conduct and complete the audits.
Pre-pandemic, we were already working closely with agency groups to design and develop new processes and move towards a more remote way of conducting audits. This meant that when launching MMC, we were already well versed in the most practical approach to carrying out compliance reviews in a faster and more cost-effective manner, utilising technology to streamline the process for our clients and the major agency groups.
Our new set up means we can really help clients understand exactly where agencies invested their ad budgets during the pandemic and where practices developed which were not in the best interests of the client. The practices and behaviours which crept in during the unique media landscape of the past 18 months can then be corrected before they become the norm for this post pandemic growth period
Transparency remains critical to a successful client / agency relationship as controlled and healthy future growth post-pandemic depends on trust and aligned interests between partners. Those that get ahead of the curve in ironing out any issues in how their ad spend is handled by their agency stand to reap the benefits, fostering strong advertiser /agency relations needed as we rebound and move into a more positive future.