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What if the CEO asks me about... whether we are all set for an advertising blitz now lockdown is easing?

Published on 24 May 2021

As lockdown eases in the UK and businesses start to fully re-open, there has been a significant upturn in advertising. Many brands are urgently rushing to get their advertising out and are looking for the best placement of that advertising.

This inevitably means engaging third party agencies to pull together campaigns as rapidly as possible, together with finding the best reach for clients' advertising across a variety of platforms and channels.

As you plan your campaigns and look at the best way to maximise "eyeballs" and "clicks" across your brands, there are a number of issues to think about.

Is the agency acting for your competitors?

A key concern for many clients is that their creative and media buying agencies may be working with competitors, and that the personnel at the agencies will have access to sensitive brand strategy customer targeting plans. As your brand strategy will often be your 'crown jewels' consider discussing these points with the agency: 

  • are there are any major competitors that the agency must not act for under any circumstances unless you have specifically consented to that engagement?
  • if the agency acts for a number of large competitors already, are you able to agree with the agency that they are restricted from acting for your competitors in respect of specific services, marketing channels or territories?
  • consider how best to ensure that ethical walls are in place within the agency to cover any conflict issues, and agree a process for resolving any conflicts that may come up

How do you make sure you are getting the best value for the media placements you buy?

Buying agencies often 'bulk buy' advertising space across different media channels and are able to offer competitive prices due to their relationships with media owners. The bulk space or "inventory media" they purchase will often be at better prices than the price you would receive if you approached the media owners directly.

But it is key to make sure that the buying agency is providing you with the best value for any media placement they are offering and that their pricing is as transparent as possible. To ensure you are getting the best value for your media placements:

  • understand how much transparency the agency is able to give you about the volume or group discounts it is being offered by media owners
  • make sure the agency is able to give you full details of their "inventory media" pricing compared to the cost of you buying that advertising space directly from a media owner
  • clarify how the agency will manage any conflicts of interest it has that might impact on you getting the best deal (for example, if the agency is buying media from another part of its group)
  • understand what guaranteed rebates you will receive from the agency (depending on the volume of media you have purchased under the agreement)
  • include robust audit and reporting obligations in the agreement

What happens to media placements that don’t go ahead?

For a number of reasons, media placements you have paid the agency for may not go ahead with the relevant media owner. In those situations, you would expect the agency to refund you for any amounts you have paid the agency but which the agency has not paid the relevant media owner (so-called "unbilled media"). As part of your discussion with the agency:

  • understand what process will apply for the agency to report on and pay back any unbilled media
  • clarify what happens if the media owner subsequently runs your campaign and money is owed to the media owner
  • agree how these payments will be dealt after the agreement terminates and whether a true-up process should be included

What other key issues should you be thinking about?

Other key areas that need to be addressed include: 

  • understanding what remuneration structure is going to be put in place with the agency, and how the performance of the agency will be incentivised through remuneration
  • clarifying what specific advertising, brand safety or anti-fraud requirements the agency needs to comply with
  • confirming whether the agency is going to be engaged exclusively in specific territories or for specific channels

And finally...

As cinemas and entertainment reopen and more people return to commuting and visiting cities, advertisers will look to use a wide range of media to target consumers – from billboards and buses to trains stations, airports and the underground. Digital ad spend is also likely to continue increasing as TV, radio and print lose audience share. Creative media and media buying activities will be key to ensuring that your key branding and marketing messages make their way to prospective consumers.


Disclaimer: The information in this publication is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. We attempt to ensure that the content is current as at the date of publication, but we do not guarantee that it remains up to date. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

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