On Thursday 13th November, we rocked up at Google Town Hall – the search giant’s London HQ – intrigued to learn more about the IPA’s work in defining the value of media. The project is the brainchild of the IPA Futures Committee, and since our very own Sally Weavers and Russell Place are leading lights in that field, we were ready to listen, and listen well.
Host Dominic Mills fluffed us suitably by describing the media agency as ‘the conductor of the orchestrator’ – the agency in the marcomms process that can triangulate audience, brands and channels. But the killer question remained: how do we increase the value that clients attribute to our work?
Mark Howe, MD of Agency Operations for Google suggested a starting point: ‘de-complexifying’ the language we use to express what we do. Howe’s was a neatly tongue-in-cheek reference to fact that terms like programmatic buying, adaptive planning, DMPs, ATDs and any other number of TLAs don’t help our cause in communicating with board-level clients outside of the marketing department.
He called for the return of the old-fashioned suit – the senior account person who understands the complexity of the landscape but can navigate it in plain language for clients. Bob Wootton, head of ISBA, said that the challenge was that all the people best suited to playing that role were too busy running agencies to do this now, and that there was a vacuum beneath them. There’s a few people at Initiative that will take that as a personal challenge, Bob!
Bob Wootton also stressed the importance of listening more than we talk. He painted a picture of agencies so desperately keen to articulate how smartly they can navigate a highly complex landscape, that they’re not actually hearing the real needs of senior clients.
If the session had a rallying cry, it was this: establish the need, agree the need and only then sell the credentials that meet that need. Matthew Hook of Carat concluded the session by talking us through the three papers the committee are creating that will help all us media agencies better create value from the work that we do.