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IPA's Pete Robins on driving up standards in media buying

By Pete Robins

April 16, 2013 | 4 min read

Five years ago those of us on the IPA Digital Media Group decided to look at how we collectively viewed those we bought media from. It's one of the three key reasons the group exists - to raise standards between us and those we buy media from, for the benefit of our clients. We deliberated over what areas to evaluate against, and the first media owner survey was born. I remember at the time some media owners were miffed we would do this and others thought it was a good idea - generally those who fared well thought it was a good idea.

Pete Robins

The survey evolved and became more robust, the structure was improved, and the number of survey responders across a wider range of agencies grew. More of those on the sales side sat up and showed interest. We realised we were beginning to have something people (maybe secretly) valued and took note of.

Certainly when we started to take both irate and pleading calls for media owners to be included in the survey results, we definitely realised it had worth. Some on the sales side even began to bonus their staff on the improvement in results.

A minority felt that the survey was there to pick on media owners but in truth that was never the case. It is the joint responsibility of agencies and those providing the media we buy to do a good job. If by making our opinions public on those we traded with would mean standards would go up, we'd be fools not to do so.

And those standards have gone up.

The industry has of course grown up over the last five years; new technology, new businesses, new ways to nimbly exploit, better ways to trade media, but what still stands true is that the people bit is just as relevant as it's always been. We all do business at a faster and faster pace with sometimes unrealistic expectations. A momentary lapse and it's very easy for mistakes to creep in amongst our desire to always deliver. Over the years, I've learned that technology can be a temperamental adolescent sibling and will often not do the thing you really want it to. More often than not those in the back room are the ones holding everything together. Its why alongside the survey results we wanted to champion and recognise those who very do the stuff others can take the glory for. Both from people who are new to the sales side who have made a real impact, to those who truly are the unsung heroes. We also wanted to recognise those who have helped us agencies deliver truly ground breaking, smart or simply down right effective campaigns - if you've made us look good we should at least say thanks!

And so the MOAs were born, and now three years on as we launch the 2013 awards they are going from strength to strength.

So what's the point of them?

They exist to formally and publically recognise those on the media owners and sales side who are leading the way. They're not easy to win, nor should they be easy to win, but to put it simply, if you do win a MOA you thoroughly deserve it.

For more on the MOAs go to www.ipamoa.co.uk

Pete Robins is managing partner of Agenda 21 and chairman of the IPA Digital Media Group

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