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Media is one of the largest investments in growth your company can make. The opportunity to get it right is compelling and working with the RIGHT media agency can have a huge impact on your marketing success.

A good pitch process will give your team clarity on what you need from a media agency and confidence to select the best fit agencies for your brand. It will provide clear communication to your various stakeholders. It will be objective, fair and executed with a clear process for decision making.

But how do you find the right agency for your requirements? And how do you compare agencies and identify the one with the right capabilities, culture and at the right commercial terms?

That’s where a trusted pitch consultant team can help! ID Comms is an award winning consultancy, with over 10 years experience working with the world’s leading advertisers and helping them find and build productive relationships with the very best agencies.

Planning a media agency pitch?


What you will find below is a collection of our proven best practices in pitch preparation and management. These processes have helped some of the world's leading advertisers find the best agency partners and, ultimately, see lasting growth from their media investment. 

Here's what we'll cover:

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In a media agency pitch process, choosing the right media agency partner is one of the most critical decisions a marketing and procurement team can make. 

Media investment is such a powerful lever for business growth that securing the right terms and talent with the right media agency is the key to giving your brand a real competitive advantage. But with the media environment constantly evolving and agencies becoming ever more complex – running a media pitch demands careful consideration.

The media agency pitch process has evolved. Most big media agency pitches of yesteryear saw procurement take the lead in a heavily-price driven process. The desire for substantial and immediate cost savings would often eclipse guarantees of media neutrality or demands for quality of media placement. Instead, the agency that could combine a race to the bottom on price with a few shiny ideas usually won the business. It was an unsustainable approach that did little to ensure that a brand’s media investment delivered real results.

Today’s advertisers look beyond price alone when selecting a media partner, and they are much more enlightened in the questions they ask and the relationships they want to build. Collaboration is key, with marketing and procurement working together to ensure that the winning agency is the right fit for the company and will deliver both value and improved media quality to the business. 

This positive approach to running a media agency pitch gives you much more scope for challenging agencies in interesting and dynamic ways. When designed correctly, media pitches should excite and enthuse agencies about working on a business, rather than compounding the pitch-weariness of execs tasked with endless RFI template completions. Ultimately, this delivers a more positive pitch experience and a satisfying end result for advertisers and agencies alike.


Media agency pitch trends

In recent years, more advertisers have been pitching their media accounts to select the agencies with the best capabilities to meet their evolving needs. Each year about $20-30bn of media business is pitched by agencies. As more advertisers have in-housed some core media functions, the requirements of agencies have evolved, leading to more media agency pitches. 

Alongside the evolving needs of the advertisers, there have been growing concerns about the lack of transparency in the media supply chain. As a result many advertisers have used pitches to identify agencies that meet their transparency standards and to secure stronger contract and audit terms with their selected agencies. 

This has resulted in stronger, more open and productive relationships between advertisers and their agencies, aligned on maximizing long-term growth opportunities. Advertisers are recognizing that a good media agency pitch process can give them competitive advantage. 

However, a media agency pitch can be complex, time consuming and distracting to the marketing team, so the decision to pitch must be well considered. You don't want to be pitching frequently so when you do decide to launch a media agency pitch, it's important to be well prepared, have a strong team supported by an expert pitch consultant and focus on building a high-value relationship with the perfect agency for your business needs. 

ID Comms supports initiatives by the leading industry trade associations such as the ANA, 4As, ISBA and WFA to set best practice standards and guidelines for media agency pitches.


Stages of a media agency pitch

Media Agency Pitch


There are typically three stages to a media agency pitch:

  1. Pitch preparation - shortlisting the best-fit agencies, preparing the briefs and scorecards

  2. Pitch management - testing the agencies’ capabilities, meeting their teams, evaluating their proposals and then negotiating the best commercial terms

  3. Pitch conclusion - deciding on the winning agency, signing the contract and communicating the result. Celebration time! 

A well run pitch requires careful consideration throughout each stage. Below you will find some of our best resources and tips for ensuring success every step of the way. 


What makes a successful media agency pitch?

The secret to a successful media agency pitch is having a stakeholder team which is aligned on a vision and ambition for the process. Ideally the team should include both marketing and procurement stakeholders and be supported by an expert consultant to help manage the project and liaise with the competing agencies fairly and objectively.  


Are you confident in what steps to take before you launch a media agency pitch? Thorough preparation will be the key to a successful and productive pitch process and it's important that you allow your teams time to make and align on the decisions required in advance of the pitch.


How do you prepare for a media agency pitch?

There are 6 simple steps to being well prepared for a pitch:

  1. Identify the core pitch team, including marketing and procurement
  2. Hire an experienced pitch consultant with strong credentials
  3. Clarify the reasons, ambition and objectives for the pitch
  4. Identify two Executive Sponsors for the project
  5. Understand the agency landscape and dynamics
  6. Work through a checklist of preparation material
Preparing for your next media agency pitch

Who should be on your core pitch team?

Establishing the team first is important and needs to be well considered. The team must reflect the need of the business and your stakeholders for this media agency pitch project should represent your different business divisions, geographies and roles. For example, including both marketing and procurement in the core team is good practice to ensure that both the growth and cost-management ambitions of a pitch can be aligned and consistent.

Before beginning the pitch process, be sure you have full stakeholder alignment, defined objectives and clear evaluation methodologies. A structured and objective approach is essential as this removes ambiguity and subjectivity, ensuring that prospective agencies are clear on what you expect of them at every stage and understand how decisions will be made.

Running a media agency pitch is a significant undertaking and can be a distracting and disruptive process for everyone involved, including the incumbent agency. The more efficient and organized your media pitch is, the less disruption there will be to your daily media and marketing operations.

Most advertisers serious about securing the most value and performance from their agency pitch will consider hiring a specialized consultant with experience of designing and managing the process and supporting efficient decision making.


Planning a media agency pitch?


What does a pitch consultant do?

If you are hiring a pitch consultant to support your team through an agency pitch they should have extensive and credible experience relevant to your requirements. They should also be well organized with a proven pitch methodology and be able to supply you with a clear project plan and templates for all the briefing materials and data collection.

A good pitch consultant will know the best agencies to invite to the process, how to manage all the project communications and guide your decision making through the pitch stages. They will also be equipped with the specialist skills to evaluate the commercial proposals of agencies including evaluating the agency’s media buying rates, agency fees and contract terms ahead of final negotiations. This will get you the best deal with the best agency for you. 

There is a lot to consider when hiring a media agency pitch consultant. Read more about How to Select a Media Agency Pitch Consultant on our blog.

Consider your consultant carefully, you are going to be working with them closely for many months. Download our FREE ID Comms ‘Media Consultant Evaluation’  to help you make the right decisions.

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Reasons to call a media agency pitch

We have found there are 7 reasons to launch a media agency pitch:

  1. Legal - for example a breach of contract
  2. Competitive conflict - agency starts working with a competitor
  3. Performance Issues - sustained under performance
  4. Change of share - agency buying power impacted
  5. Consolidation - advertiser wants to work with fewer agencies
  6. Agency M&A - agency buys or is bought by another agency
  7. Change of strategy - material change in scope

Over the years we have heard many other reasons to launch a pitch... “we want to save money and get better rates”... “we just want to see what other agencies are doing”... “we don't like the team at our existing agency”... “our business is underperforming and a new agency will give us a fresh start”. While these may appear to be legitimate concerns, and certainly could be addressed by a media agency pitch, they should not be the sole reason for the pitch. 

It will be important for your team to be able to explain the reason for the pitch, agencies will ask you, so we recommend identifying which of the seven reasons above most closely reflects your situation. A good pitch consultant can help you articulate the ambition and objectives for your pitch, so that it can be clearly understood by your internal stakeholders and eventually the competing agencies.

7 Reasons to Call a Media Agency Pitch


Questions to ask in a media agency pitch

There are many questions to ask in any agency pitch but here are the four most important that the competing agencies will be asking themselves:

  1. Do we want to win?
  2. Is this winnable?
  3. Can we win?
  4. How do we win?

In order to run a highly competitive media agency pitch process, advertisers must understand the psychology and motivations of the competing agencies. 

To secure the best terms with the best agencies, you need those agencies to want to compete hard for your business. By understanding the underlying motivations of the agency (especially the agency CEO) you can make sure that your pitch is positioned correctly to get agencies excited and engaged and willing to fight hard to win. 

For more, watch The 4 Most Important Questions in Any Pitch.


How do you get the best agencies to compete in your pitch?

Agencies have become more discerning about whether to compete in a pitch. Here are our four tips for how to get the best agencies engaged in your next agency pitch: 

  1. Engage early with agency leadership
  2. Create high-quality briefing materials with clear objectives and timings
  3. Using a pitch consultant shows you’re serious
  4. Get your C-suite involved in the pitch

To get the best media agencies to compete for your pitch, you must appreciate that agency CEOs are now much more selective about where they go all in and which pitches they commit to. That’s because the best calling card to hiring and retaining the best talent is to win new business. And while winning a pitch is brilliant for morale, losing one is hugely negative.

You should also remember that the value that an agency brings is largely discretionary – the agency CEO will decide the level and volume of talent they will put into your business. A highly motivated agency leadership can bring huge value to your account and will also help you secure commercial value and innovation as well.

The bottom line is that you can no longer assume that your scale or brand can carry the full weight of the pitch process. Agencies may want to have your logo on their credentials but they will also consider the potential affects (good or bad) that this partnership will have on their team as a whole.

Media Agency Pitch