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Major multinationals go beyond auditing as independent advisor role evolves

Advisors now helping to set long-term strategy for media management, evolve marketing organisations, hire agencies and people as well as setting KPIs

/ Introduction

Major multinationals are using an expanding array of services from independent media advisors to support them with their media management challenges, says a new report from the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

The study found that many are going well beyond classic price auditing, which involves comparing the price they pay with an anonymous ‘pool’ based on group of advertisers.

Based on a survey of 56 advertisers, representing companies spending more than $90bn in annual marketing spend, as well as input from all media agency groups and most advisor companies, it found that nine out of 10 advertiser respondents used media auditing and price benchmarking services.

However, many were adamant that the current measurement approach needed to change. There was strong agreement from clients (73% agree), agencies (92%) and advisors (87%) that ‘the industry needs to move away from outmoded media price judgments to focus on value-based assessments’.

Additionally, nearly all clients (96%) agree that ‘digital media requires a different assessment methodology to offline media’, and agencies and advisors feel the same way. However, while advisors think they have made great progress –two-thirds of advisors agree that ‘digital evaluations offered by media advisors have advanced considerably in recent years’ – clients are more sceptical, with just 23% agreeing.

“There appears to be some frustration with the rigidity of the pool-based approach,” said Matt Green, Global Lead, Media & Digital at WFA. “Attempts to create new forms of value-based assessment for digital are clearly not as successful and more work needs to be done to give advertisers reassurance that they are paying the right prices in a biddable media landscape.”

However, advertisers did identify new areas for growth in the advisory sector, with digital at the forefront. Programmatic evaluations were the main priority, identified by 86% of respondents as being ‘more important’, media analytics and consultancy-level services will also be more in demand, with technology selection and implementation being ‘more important’ for at least 60% of client respondents.

In a reflection of the need of many multinationals to ‘transform’ their marketing departments, other areas where advisors have been playing a key role include internal organisational design for media, plus external agency ecosystem design. However, given the high pace of pitches over the past few years, these are not areas where clients see increased need in the future. Sixty percent of clients forecast ‘no change’ to the use of these services from advisors.

Other key findings include:

  • Eighty-one per cent of advertiser respondents use auditing services routinely or permanently and 68% agree that auditing has been instrumental in reducing prices and extracting greater value from media’. Seventy percent agree that ‘auditing is an indispensable means of establishing an objective view of media value’. Ebiquity is the most used advisor in this space, used by 58% of respondents, with Accenture Media Management used by 38%.
  • Seventy-five per cent of respondents now use independent advisors for contract compliance auditing and verification. FirmDecisions (part of Ebiquity) and Ebiquity are used by 53% of respondents. Accenture are used by 19%.
  • Nearly 70% of advertisers have used sought support for agency management and help ensuring that agency solutions satisfy the requirements of many stakeholders spread globally. ID Comms is the most used advisor in this space, used by 23% of respondents with Ebiquity on 21% and Accenture 15%.
  • Fifty-nine per cent of respondents have used independent advisors for media consulting, but this remains a new area: 14% use their agencies/other suppliers for similar services, 20% do this themselves and 7% don’t do this at all. The largest share (61%) do this ‘occasionally/sporadically’. And just 18% do this ‘routinely’. ID Comms is the most used advisor in this space at 17% of respondents with Ebiquity on 11% and Accenture on 8%.

 “Media management is a complex art and many multinational marketers use advisors to help them navigate a constantly changing ecosystem. The role that advisors play has become wider and more sophisticated as marketers seek to maximise the value of their media activity and align their external partners with their business goals,” said Matt Green.

For all media enquiries please contact:
Alastair Ray
+44 1600 713 987
+44 7941 428 243

About the WFA

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) is the voice of marketers worldwide, representing 90% of global marketing communications spend – roughly US$900 billion per annum – through a unique, global network of the world’s biggest markets and biggest marketers. WFA champions responsible and effective marketing communications worldwide. More information at

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