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Tom Denford Mar 2, 2017 8:00:00 AM 3 min read

Change Metrics To Change Media


If media is to change in 2017 then the way it’s assessed also needs to change. That means better, more relevant metrics, measures that reflect how media can add value to a brand and drive business success. 

Changing metrics is the foundation stone of the change we expect to see in 2017 and the right measures will provide marketers with a fresh perspective on the true value and power of media for their business. 

For too long the focus of media metrics has been on audit-based tracking of media spend. This is important but it is not the only indicator of success. Auditing has been stuck, simply looking at price benchmarks and making sure that the agency is buying at the price they guaranteed, sometimes years in advance. 

This is just one small aspect of media performance and it is not critically linked to any meaningful business performance, it does not account for the creativity and great ideas that agencies develop every day, nor the service they provide.

Making sure your media investment is working as hard as possible requires more than just an audit of discounts. The real value of media investment comes from smart thinking, which requires a process that can also hold a client to an account in terms of the quality of their briefing process. 

Clients should spend much more time making sure that planning and strategic thinking is held accountable, not just obsessed about price, clients have to take back some control of accountability. Other areas where metrics are important include the compliance element of the contract – making sure that agencies are fully performing the terms of the contract. 

Read more: Advertisers and agencies both seem to agree that clients are failing to lead on key media decisions.


The simplicity of the audit has convinced too many clients that media is simply a commercial transaction. It’s put the focus on price, discount and buying performance. 

Assessment of true media performance requires a move away from price to a value discussion. Only when clients start looking at media as an investment for business growth will they be able to hold it to account in terms of driving a business outcome.  

Ultimately everyone needs to make a much stronger link between media and business success. That requires a more holistic view on how media dollars are working. 

Where advertisers are not willing to pay for attribution models (easier for brands that work in sectors such as e-commerce than those in CPG) the onus is on the agency to change the conversation to value and away from price. They must find a way to push clients to rethink media, make them more innovative and increasingly link the agency performance to the business outcomes. 

Often the best way to drive such change will be to challenge the remuneration model – a gesture that will help to open up a discussion. That allows both sides to start thinking about KPIs that allow everyone to celebrate shared success.

Making all this work also requires brands and agencies to be able to trust the metrics they select. Unfortunately, that’s become harder in the digital age. 

Download ID Comms 2017 Global Media terms of Business Report

Digital media promised to make it easier to track media’s influence on business performance but levels of trust in digital metrics has fallen after the revelations about ad fraud, bots and questions over errors in Facebook’s data. 

After five years of heavily investing in digital channels many brands are starting to lose faith. The recent IAB presentation by P&G’s Marc Pritchard demanded a basic level of openness from Google and Facebook, in particular. 

The latter’s response has been encouraging but the whole ecosystem needs to take a similar approach. Ultimately, the digital landscape should be working to help marketers simplify the complexity of digital measurement. 

While it’s good practice to follow the old adage “what gets measured gets done” – we believe marketers should be upgrading this to “what gets paid for gets done first” and think about how they pay for media and incentivise their agencies. 

“Vote with our dollars” as Marc Pritchard said.

This article was originally posted in MediaPost on 23 February 2017


Tom Denford

Tom Denford is one of the world’s most trusted advisors to senior marketing and procurement leaders on navigating media and digital transformation. With 20 years’ experience in the marketing industry, which covers senior global roles in creative and media agencies, Tom co-founded ID Comms in 2009, with ambition for the company to be the world experts in maximising media value and performance.