ZMI ALPHA:Why media agency pitches will lead the way in 2021

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ZMI ALPHA:Why media agency pitches will lead the way in 2021

Listening to our agency and client colleagues in recent months as well as investigating through our own research via SCOPEN on the impact of Covid-19 and the trends in media spend, 2021 may be the year of the pitch.

As one of the leading
pitch consulting companies with a rare view into marketing, media and agency
trends, the IAS is predicting that 2021 will be a busy year for media pitches. There
are a number of indicators for this assertion.

Firstly, media spend
dropped across all media types during the toughest part of lockdown in 2020,
with the exception of digital media which has proved highly resilient and had
the edge with e-commerce boosting spend.

While spend recovered a little – notably during the latter part of 2020 – media owners are still enduring some dramatic changes and losses in spend which caused many changes and closures of several print publications early in 2020.

Another notable trend: Media
owners are able to offer marketers extraordinarily attractive deals due to the
amount of inventory they have available and are often going directly to clients
instead of via the media agencies.

The behemoths of digital media owners Google and Facebook have been dealing directly with marketers since day one as well as with traditional media agencies, possibly more reluctantly with the latter. Add to this that the unstoppable Amazon – the world’s second-ever public company to be valued at US$1 trillion, after Apple – is likely to make its presence felt soon in South Africa, and impact will be felt.

SCOPEN research shows
that media agencies globally have been consolidating in the past six months as
they consider the impact of the downturn in spend and start to review what will
be the likely forecasts in 2021.

Also, there’s the
convergence of digital media creative agencies providing marketers with a very
effective one-stop shop to meet the growing portion of their marketing and
media spend, even if choices are limited.

Media agencies as go-to advisors

Amid this activity, marketers
must continue to reach their consumers in the most effective channels and with optimum
spend. This means media agencies will be in a stronger position to advise
clients than they have been for a number of years. 

For around 20 years,
creative agencies in South Africa have been the first port of call for many
marketers seeking to improve their results, with media agencies playing a
support role. Change is already happening, though, as marketers realise that
information about consumers is part of a media agency’s data-set in order to
plan and execute media campaigns – and data is power.

Within the broadcast
sector particularly, this knowledge is highly prized, being precisely gathered
and able to provide real currency for media strategists and planners to deliver
the most valuable results to marketers.

Media agencies note
that their reviews are often led and managed by procurement heads at many of
the corporate organisations, which means that there’s a focus on negotiation
skills or best rates. However, the influence of what marketers need must not be
overlooked, especially during these uncertain times.  

The lengths budgets must go to…

Media budgets are often
far larger than creative budgets, and yet those budgets have to go a long way
in order to provide the results marketers seek.

AGENCY SCOPE studies of
CMOs globally and locally show that while the ability to negotiate with media
owners is important, what marketers really want from their media agency
partners is innovative thinking, strategic skills and a robust understanding of
the client’s business.

According to our own IAS data, there were probably in excess of 70 media-only pitches last year in 2020, involving vast amounts of media spend. Some of those pitches were reviews that happened as a result of contracts coming to an end and, in a number of  cases, the incumbent media agencies were re-appointed.

This indicates that
marketers and procurement heads do indeed benefit from regular media agency
reviews, setting the tone for more pitches this year.

With data, analytics, analysis and innovation becoming more critical to the success of marketers today, I predict that the media agency pitch process will grow more complex and more important as marketers navigate their way through an unpredictable landscape to successfully reach their consumers and ultimately deliver results to brands that the C-Suite demands.

Johanna McDowell is CEO of IAS and Partner in SCOPEN South Africa and UK.

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