Tom Denford and David Indo from ID Comms: when Adland left YouTube

On this week’s #MediaSnack (not that anyone in adland will see it, having decided to boycott of YouTube), Tom and David sink their teeth into the juicy story that won’t go away, the ‘scandal’ of Google allowing advertisers to be placed against extremist and unsavoury content.

So, who is actually to blame? Well, it’s marketers of course. Tom and David explain why and what can be done about it.

There has been plenty of indulgent pot-stirring from excited agency execs and auditors keen to have a go at Google but Tom and David argue that it’s time for rational heads. Google is not broken, YouTube is not broken, Facebook is not broken. It’s the “murky” advertising layer added on top that is rotten

This row is simply an inevitable symptom of the “crappy media supply chain,” which has been engineered around a common desire from marketers to continually reduce media costs and ignore media quality. Advertisers have sought cost-efficiency at the price of effectiveness, agencies have been financially incentivised to reduce the unit cost of media, auditors have charged big fees to validate that costs were cut to the bone and everyone’s happy.

Or at least they were until advertisers start seeing their brands against unsavoury content and called for “brand safety” reassurances.

Tom and David argue that restoring the right balance requires advertisers to start demanding a supply chain focused on adding value and caring about the brands they make money from. Agencies, vendors and everyone in between needs be instructed, motivated and incentivized to care about the brands they touch. It’s time to return to the craft of media buying, where context was as important as negotiating a good price.

Avoiding these issues ultimately comes down to a simple decision: do you see your media budget as a cost or an investment? If you see your media budgets as a cost then you will inevitably end up having quality control issues because you will build your whole supply chain to treat media like a commodity and therefore seek to lower prices at every opportunity. At some point that means giving up quality control in a desire for cheaper media, which is what has happened here.

Alternatively, if you see media as an investment in growth then you will focus on quality as a metric of success and one which you link your agency’s own success to. This creates a supply chain that cares about your brand and will aspire to higher standards of quality control. All the tools exist for you to avoid the risks of inappropriate content, you just have to be aware of, request and demand compliance to higher standards.

All marketers have a giant lever that does this automatically, their dollars.

Tom and David say that the best time to implement new KPIs for media, a new scope of work for the agency and a new incentive payment model to make people care about quality is in a pitch or renegotiation. If you are planning a pitch right now please consider updating these elements and not just thinking about how you can reduce your media prices.

Finally, Tom and David look at the on-off Sainsbury’s media pitch, where it appears the retailer has made a right hash of their recent change of media agency.

In February, they announced they were moving their £100m UK media business from long-serving agency PHD, a partner for over a decade, to WPP agency m/Six. This appeared to have occurred without a formal pitch process and the losing agency’s parent Omnicom has called foul, direct to the Sainsbury’s board. Whichever of these two agencies finally get their hands on the giant client, this will certainly be the worst way to start a client agency relationship.

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