What Should You Look For In A Media Agency?

Finding the right media agency requires more than negotiating the cost. A brand has many moving parts. All the inputs that ad agencies bring are a small part of what David Ogilvy called “the complex symbol of the brand.”

There has been a major shift in the marketing landscape. The proliferation of big data and marketing technologies has given rise to many small agencies that are specialists in core niches, challenging the behemoth agencies.

How do you go about choosing the right media partner for your business?

Each option comes with strengths and weaknesses depending on your goals and your in-house capabilities, but the first step is to identify these.

Is Bigger Better? 

Let’s look at factors that determine if the size of the agency is the perfect fit for your brand. Finding the right agency is a lot like finding the right partner in real life. Understanding the temperament, finding the right chemistry, working toward a shared goal, and most importantly identifying the areas of compromise.

Agility is the name of the game

Agility is the name of the game in the digital ecosystem. Smaller agencies have teams and open communication channels that thrive in an agile environment. They are quick to adapt and deploy.

Bureaucracy is particularly virulent in larger agencies. For brands that want a quick turnaround, big agencies with elongated chains of communication and approval may not be the right choice. Working with smaller and more nimble agencies will meet your business needs.

The perennial debate of generalist vs. specialist

Big agencies with their deep rockets have their advantages. They offer a wide range of all-inclusive services, run by various internal cells or departments.

The very advantage also provides a conducive marketplace for smaller agencies who are specialists in core niches by specialization such as multicultural marketing. 

Accessing the right demographic like affluent South Asians in the United States makes a specialist agency such as FrontAd, who are experts in the niche–a clear winner. A partner that lives and breathes success in the niche. 

Beyond the big data, small media agencies are always on top of the recent trends and will help you find ingenious ways to reach your savvy consumers. It is time for brands and bigger agencies to take a step back and find agencies that can show you what you need, for example, where your audience is in the first place. It’s not about big or small but rather about being a specialist.

Chemistry is not magic 

Chemistry and compatible working styles are critical to a successful agency relationship. Do your due diligence. Ask for case studies or client references to establish the track record they have in your industry. Dive deeper into the credibility deck and talk to the employees to understand their culture.

The chemistry between the brand and agency will also be largely determined by the passion they have for your brand. And as a brand, it is important to instill that trust and respect for a shared goal. Develop a strategy that guides the components of your marketing mix in a holistic and coherent manner.

Are smaller media agencies more committed to having a relationship? In the dating world, they would be perpetually on the courting stage, passionate and eager to please. 

If you desire a more personal and tailored approach to the client relationship and the work, small agencies will do everything in their power to keep you happy.

Creativity can be lost in the long chain of command

Big agencies have a huge creative force housing plenty of raw creative talents. They come with a portfolio of accolades from around the world under their belt.

Small does not mean being powerless. The sheer size of big agencies put them at a disadvantage compared with smaller and lean teams.

Most of the small agencies are started by highly talented, but burned out creative leaders. The benefit of working with a smaller agency is having a more direct relationship with creative leaders and senior management.  

With a smaller agency, you are likely to speak to the person who works directly with the creative team. This means that small agencies listen to your voice and opinions rather than second-hand interpretations–they are more likely to translate your vision into inspiring campaigns.

Big or small, the measure of an effective campaign should not be at the expense of creativity. While Google and Facebook have enabled targeting with the use of data, they cannot solve all your marketing challenges. Good creative work, like a good user experience, can make brand communications more effective. 

The economics of small 

Bigger organizations are spread across multiple geographical locations. And by design, they meet the prerequisite of multinational brands. If you are a relatively smaller brand, your business may fall through the cracks as the larger agencies run after the bigger accounts.

Smaller agencies tend to serve the local brands and are highly specialized in the micro-markets that they serve. Regardless of the size of your brand, smaller agencies will go above and beyond for every account. Value is not measured by the size of the team at the agency but if the agency is helping your brand achieve the goals, whether it is conversions or awareness effectively.

Smaller agencies are nimble enough to build custom pricing and terms, which can bring both value and a level of reassurance to clients. FrontAd builds custom pricing for all the brands, allowing the brand-side full control over the level of service they want to budget.

Media spend continues to be the single biggest investment for marketers and advertisers. Big agencies have higher spending power and have a higher media buying power which determines the value and discounts of your total spending. Bigger agencies also charge a huge fee. Smaller agencies are more economical, flexible, and transparent with their pricing.

There are strengths to big agencies and as the marketplace evolves, big agencies are acquiring the smaller agencies. They can offer end-to-end services in a consolidated marketplace. But can they guarantee the same creativity, reach, and value in each specialized service?