What are best practices for conducting media audits?
What does the ideal media audit look like? The “ideal” audit is comprehensive, thorough and transparent. An ideal media audit should:
Be tailored to the advertiser’s specific requirements and objectives.
Track and measure performance achievements versus goals and/or versus competitors (both quantitative and qualitative).
Check for compliance with the media plan/buying guidelines.
Identify and compare both financial and marketing impact and deviations (positive and negative).
Provide key findings and identify areas for consideration to improve efficiencies and ensure problems do not reoccur.
Result in improvements in strategies, processes and tactics that drive continuous improvement in the value of media bought and delivered on behalf of the advertiser.
In a best practice scenario, an audit is undertaken to improve the media strategy, buying, value and delivery, so that the value delivered is enhanced. This approach tends to strengthen the relationship between the two parties by driving greater transparency with improved mutual understanding and appreciation between the advertiser and the agency. When the motivation for an audit is to find flaws in the agency performance, there is a larger breakdown in trust in the relationship.
When planning for a media audit – the following steps should be taken:
1. Inform the agency of the intention to conduct a media audit as early in the process as possible. It is a good practice in general, when contracting with a media agency, to build in language that includes a provision for the allowance of media audits as desired by the advertiser.
2. Decide on the type of audit required (see “types of media audits”).
3. Meet initially with the auditor (without the agency) to fully understand their process, and develop the audit plan with agreed-to terms and conditions, covering:
- Audit contract
- Confidentiality/non-disclosure agreement
- Data ownership
- Possible inclusion of a Performance Related Incentive Program with the agency based upon audit results
4. Establish a basis for how the advertiser will pay for the audit.
5. Conduct a debriefing jointly with the auditor and the agency to review and discuss the audit report findings.
6. When an audit identifies areas for improvement, both the client and the agency should jointly establish performance targets for the agency to meet within a specified time frame. Ongoing benchmarking by the media auditor assures improved media performance.
How do I introduce the concept of a media audit?
Use the MAC as an informational resource to understand the types of audits available.
Bring the full roster of options to your Marketing partners early in the process to enlist their help in narrowing down options – determine which types of audits might be right for you.
Ask Marketing to consider bringing in a few auditors and jointly (team) interview.
If there is internal resistance, it’s still a good idea for you to meet with some auditors, become familiar, understand capabilities, etc.
What should you look for in hiring a media audit company?
1. Select a media auditing company that has in-depth knowledge and experience in the US media marketplace and has experienced personnel who have knowledge of the markets in which you advertise. The selected audit company must have access to required databases and research information.
2. Select an audit company that has a flexible approach that is adaptable to accommodate unique needs of the advertiser while, at the same time, ensures the integrity of auditing principles, best practices and measurement parameters.
3. Ask each audit company you are considering for references of other clients they have worked with.