Don’t worry P&G, Brainlabs will save you!Daniel Gilbert
You said it all, you hero.
You cast your gaze upon the world of digital advertising and you saw the darkness lurking beneath its shiny surface, the lies, the murkiness, the rebates, the mark-ups, the horror, (the horror!).
We had seen it too, Marc, but only you had the power to awaken the industry to the gaping issues it had somehow ignored for years. Now bewildered marketers are re-reading their agency contracts, discovering ambiguities and euphemisms they hadn’t thought to question. Agencies are scrambling to defend themselves, big brands are making culls, the auditors are coming. It’s beautiful.
We commend you, P&G, for initiating a long overdue revolution. But maybe you didn’t really think this through? When the dust has settled, what agencies will be left standing, capable of meeting the high standards you have set? What if you find that you have overestimated the industry, that there is actually no-one out there that can offer you the transparency you so justifiably seek? When that day comes, P&G, don’t despair: Brainlabs can save you.
Sure, now that the whole world is paying attention, you might find the more conspicuous acts of dishonesty start to disappear. Rebates, for so long the bread and butter of the traditional media agency, may finally start to be given to the person they belong to (the client). And the whole principal vs agent con might have had its day, since Marc humbly admitted that P&G itself had fallen victim to this legal trickery. Agencies may now have to spend a client’s money on what they’re supposed to (buying media) rather than spending some on that and then filtering the rest into their management costs.
So that’s nice, but you have to wonder how traditional agencies will cope with these potentially crippling losses in revenue? The answer is obvious: find a more subtle form of non-transparency.
There are so many ways of doing this. We’ve already mentioned the magic mark-up button in programmatic advertising. What about the ad tech firms that collude with agencies to create unnecessary meta-platforms on top of the standard ones for an additional cost? The so-called ‘proprietary’ tech that agencies create by sticking their label onto existing software? The settlements that don’t need to be disclosed in a contract? The ANA’s report last year has only scratched the surface. And then there’s the whole other issue of viewability standards, brand safety – what percentage of the fraction that gets spent on digital media is actually shown to its intended audience, and shown properly? So many issues.
So long as marketers are kept in the dark about the digital media supply chain, or what agencies actually do, there will always be ways for agencies to sneak extra profits for themselves. True transparency will not come from pressure to please P&G, or by reluctantly conforming to ISBA’s excellent template for media agency services, but from an entire change of business model, ethos and probably leadership.
But enough about the problems, enough about the bad apples. As we said, we are here to save you, P&G, because we are the exception. We are, and always have been, 100% transparent. Let us count the ways.
If we get these, obviously we give them back to our client. It’s their money, after all.
Nope. There’s a management fee, clearly agreed upon from the outset. Thereon every penny that gets spent is clearly accounted for, and used as efficiently as possible. How do clients know? We share every detail with them by creating dashboards that allow clients to see their account activity whenever they like.
We aren’t smooth-talking marketeers, we’re data analysts, maths geeks, tech wizards. Because of this, we believe in sharing data with clients, using data to make the most scientific purchasing decisions and showing our working out at every step of the process. Our programmatic and social teams analyse millions of data points to ensure the best possible performance. Our paid search is awesome because we test and test again, until it’s as good as it can be.
Long before ISBA introduced its amazeballs seal of Brand Safety, we had already created our six-step process for ensuring ads go where they’re meant to. It’s about as rigorous as it gets.
Educate, don’t baffle.
We make it our mission to fill in any gaps there might be in our client’s understanding of digital advertising. It’s not just that we love to show off our knowledge, or that we like clients to understand the value we add, but also because we believe this is the key to true transparency. If a client doesn’t understand everything we do, then we aren’t doing our jobs right.
So that’s what makes us different. We hope you’re impressed, and also comforted – it must have been a tough month reviewing your existing agency contracts. But don’t give up on digital – there is still hope out there. We know we’re a bit small by your standards, but by gosh we’re growing quickly. Give us this year to triple in size (again), and meanwhile you can confirm what we already know (none of your current partners quite cut the mustard).
We look forward to saving you P&G.
p.s. if you’re not P&G we can probably still help kick your media into the stratosphere. It’s just that you haven’t been in the news so you don’t get a public letter, soz.