like to improve the effectiveness & efficiency of our relationships
with our creative, media and PR agency partners.”
are our relationships and what
actions should be taken to
achieve better results?"
effective and complementary client/agency relationship is not automatic -
it needs to be nurtured through ongoing communication.
Effective and trusting relationships are also two-way – both
agency and client must work hard to ensure success.
Both sides must understand what they are expected to do, how &
when they are expected to do it, and how well they are doing in order to
improve. Good relations also
achieve better results. Evidence from the UK is that clients that view
their agencies as partners (as opposed to suppliers) have stronger, more
satisfying and more productive relationships.
ARC developed a
research paradigm for client/agency relationship nearly twenty years ago,
in the early 1990s. The result
was the Evaluating Advertising Agency Performance report, published by ARC
and the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA).
This was updated with a second edition.
The approach to the research was also published in academic
journals and conference proceedings, including ESOMAR.
Since then ARC’s relationship evaluation has been used
extensively and even licensed to other countries.
It has also been copied by competitors - in question phrasing but
not in root understanding. Whilst
the research has been updated to reflect market changes the underlying
academic approach has remained true and consistent. Over the years
ARC has worked with many clients and their agencies - from single
relationships in the UK to pan-European evaluation of creative, media and
PR relationships. ARC has also worked with some clients over many
years, helping them to stay at the top of their game.
relationship management includes regular, formal and two-way evaluation.
The vast majority of UK advertisers formally evaluate their
advertising agency. The
specification of the roles of the agency and client and the regular
monitoring of overall and specific performance provides a benchmark for
progress and a foundation for constructive dialogue enabling and
encouraging action to be taken to improve performance.
Formal agency evaluations are also useful to ensure that unspoken
assumptions are not misplaced. They
remind all of the expected roles and progress against workplans.
The principal aim of the evaluation is simple - to improve future
performance and relationship quality through the adoption of contemporary
best practice. However the
agency evaluation is also tied to the agency’s remuneration.
The majority of
advertisers now offer their agency bonuses for the achievement of agreed
targets; over 90% include an agency evaluation in that PBR scheme.
Regular actionable reviews can enable a
re-appraisal of the respective roles of client and agency. The more aware
that agencies are of advertisers changing needs, the better they can
satisfy them. Typically a
formal evaluation should encompass the agency’s output (e.g. the
advertising), the agency’s product (task competencies in all
disciplines), agency service (e.g. reliability, responsiveness) and the
relationship quality (communication, values and trust).
The evaluation should be conducted with a positive tone aimed at
mutual improvement, not as a stick to beat the agency (or client) with.
evaluation of the agency by the client (or vice-versa) is of course
entirely subjective. It is
therefore useful to add an objective element to the process by
benchmarking performance against a comparable base. How well an agency is
truly performing is also a matter of how good it is perceived to be against
the competition. Objective
benchmarking provides a more stable means of tying performance-based
remuneration to evaluation. A benchmark comparison may therefore be useful
to show what can reasonably be expected from the agency and to provide
reassurance that any PBR payment can be more fully justified.
it is based on ARC data you can be sure that CARE
is independent, academically rigorous and entirely confidential.
try CARE for yourself
simply get in touch with Jonathan Lace at ARC by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org