In her article “Is future little or large for media?” (MW May 8), Liz
Stuart says: “Media agencies and their clients are unclear over whether large or small agencies are the way forward.”
Over the past few years, the drive towards volume in the media world has been pretty single-minded. And, at first glance, this seems to make sense for advertisers.
After all, the greater the volume – and therefore clout – their media agency has, the lower the rates they will pay in the market. What’s more, so the argument goes, it is only the volume buying agencies that can attract the talent and afford the research and the like.
But in recent months, there have been signs that clients are beginning to challenge the volume buyers’ proposition.
First of all, Bob Wootton, director of Media Services at the In corporated Society of British Advertisers, said: “Bigger buying points claim to have more clout, but it is questionable whether they are buying better or just making better promises.”
Recently, BSkyB took its 20m account away from Zenith and gave it to Universal McCann, and Britvic handed its entire 15m media planning and strategy account to Michaelides & Bednash.
And now Andy Tilley and Derek Morris have decided to forsake the security of their volume-buying agency homes, to set up on their own, with Derek Morris acknowledging: “The way the market is going is towards massive buying, and it’s harder for the big shops to get out of that process and have top-level thinking.”
Will they succeed? Of course they will, because they are highly talented individuals, and what they are offering is of interest and value to clients.
The key question, in the little versus large debate is, quite simply, what is in the best interests of advertisers?
In the end, it is advertisers which will decide whether the volume buyers are delivering what they are promising, and it is advertisers which will decide whether the future is little or large for media.
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