Many advertisers are looking for the top advertising agency for their brand. But what constitutes a top advertising agency? And how do you go about identifying and selecting the best advertising agency for the brand or organization?
The most obvious answer is that the top agency is the one that enjoys the highest profile in the industry. But what does this mean? Is it the one that wins the most advertising awards? Or the one with the most effectiveness awards? Or the one winning the most business?
The answer is that the best advertising agency for any advertiser depends on what criteria you chose. And the choice of criteria depends on the strategic requirements the brand or organization has of the agency.
This seems obvious, but it is a consideration that is often overlooked in the rush often observed in the process of selecting the advertising agency to act like a panacea to poorly performing advertising and marketing plans.
We have seen marketers select an agency based on industry reputation and profile alone. While this may appear like it is a good starting point, it often does not deliver the promised results because of a misalignment of the agency to the strategic needs of the advertiser.
The reason is obvious when you look at how the industry defines a top advertising agency compared to how you may define a top-performing agency against the strategic requirements.
When you look at how agencies build their reputations it is usually through the trade publications who report on the market place. The stories the trade-press report on are: business wins and losses, new campaign launches, creative awards, effectiveness awards and senior appointments.
Of these topics, the most insightful are the senior appointments as all of the other topics are usually dependent on the quality and depth of the relationship between the agency and the advertiser.
The big mistake some advertisers make is appointing an advertising agency with a reputation for creating outstanding work, only to be disappointed that their relationship with the same agency produces less than expected results. The reason is invariably because of the advertiser and the way they engage with that agency.
Rather than selecting agencies based on their reputation, it is more important to carefully define what attributes would be required by your brand or organization that would categorise advertising agency performance.
This is more than simply functional discriminators such as expertise, capabilities, client experience, size, resources and the like. It is also the more intangible discriminators like culture, trust, philosophy, attitude and chemistry.
Of course, the industry will continue to define the top advertising agency against the accepted criteria that make compelling reading in the trade publications. But it is more important that at best this is a starting point in the selection of an agency and not the only criteria in the selection of the right agency.