What is media auditing?
Should you audit your media agency?
Three tips for contract compliance auditing
Here are the top tips for those advertisers who haven’t audited in this way before, how to start and what to look for.
Step 1: Read your media agency contract
This will have defined the rights you have to conduct audits of your media agency, you should look for the following terms:
- Who are you contracted with, individual agency or its holding company?
- Are there defined rights and logistics for compliance auditing?
- Are you restricted in the auditor you can use? Some agencies like only to be audited by 'Big Four' - but we advise you should have right to use whoever you think best fits your needs
- How much notice do you have to give the agency in advance of a compliance audit?
Step 2: Speak to your media agency. Really?
- Yes, they will be very used to this type of audit, most of their clients probably conduct some form of compliance auditing
- They will share their perspectives on different auditing firms
- They need to be engaged early in the process to mitigate and discomfort they might feel at being audited, even if you have the rights in your contract
- The purpose of audits is to make the relationship better and more productive. They don't need to be hostile or aggressive, so it is helpful to use this time to align your key stakeholder (agency) early in the process
- They can share with you experiences and learnings of having been through these processes before.
Step 3: Pick an auditor
- Contract compliance auditing is a rather niche industry so there are not hundreds of options here; the major choice you need to make is Big or Small?
- The 'Big Four' audit firms offer these types of services in many industries and media is another category they can advise on. The Big Four are KPMG, EY, PWC and Deloitte
- Alternatively, many advertisers seek the advice of specialists in agency compliance auditing because, especially in media, this is a complex area which requires more specific technical expertise. Examples of these more boutique expert auditors include Financial Progression, Firm Decisions, AARM
- Consider also that K2 Intelligence - the investigative firm that The ANA hired in the US to conduct the media rebate enquiry - has also laucnhed their own specialist media transparency offering for US based advertisers, which sees them leverage knowledge they've gained in delivering the ANA media rebate (#RebateGate) report.
- Define the scope you need, driven in part by the rights you have in the contract and what you want to achieve, then consider the best solution for you. Your company might already have a deep relationship with one of the Big Four that you can leverage.
- Our recommendation is to test different auditors, perhaps pick on big and one small and give them two different contracts (different countries, types of agency etc) and see how they do. Then seek to secure a global preferred partner.
Brands that don't currently exercise their rights to audit their media agencies should consider it seriously.
Make sure you are clear what you mean by media auditing, take expert advice if you need it to ensure you are making the right decisions for your company's requirements.