Thursday, January 24, 2008

If A Commercial Is A Promise of Involvement, Should The Agency Be Held Accountable If The Promise Isn't Fulfilled?

When I asked this question in an earlier post, the response was quite interesting. There were many agencies who said, “Of course not. We can’t be accountable for something like that.”

When these were media agencies speaking, I had to agree with them. Media agencies are accountable for exposing consumers to the message, not involving them in the message.

But if they were creative agencies that were protesting, then not so fast. Let’s face it, creative agencies need to be held accountable for something. And, in this digital age, it really can’t be sales, like it was back in the analog day.

Back then, one agency, called the Agency of Record, did all of the messaging. Not so today. Instead of an Agency of Record, advertisers have a record number of agencies.

And even though some marketers still do hold their agencies accountable for sales, it seems a bit unfair to do so when an account may have ten different agencies working on ten different aspects of it.

But then, what should a creative agency be held accountable for? Nothing? I think not.

Rather, it should be what they have control over. Which brings us back to the video messaging they create. When viewers start watching the video message, how much of it did they watch?

Is it not the creative agency’s responsibility to get viewers to watch as much of the spot as possible? The client paid to have thirty—or whatever amount of seconds— produced. I would think if the client paid for thirty seconds to be produced, they must feel that all thirty were important to communicate the message.

If most viewers stop watching after say, 12 seconds, well then, the agency didn’t fulfill their responsibility, did they?

They didn’t deliver on the promise they made to the client when they sold the client the commercial.

Should the agency be docked in pay for this?

You can hear the complaints already, can’t you? “Well, we would work that way if the client let us control the creative.”

Really?

You mean that once the agency sold the script, if the client backed off and let the agency produce it the way they think it should be produced, then the agency would be willing to be held financially accountable for how well it involved viewers?

In other words, when people stop watching, the agency stops getting paid for that job. Agencies would really be willing to work that way?

Okay.

Advertisers, the ball’s in your court. View duration time or time-spent with a video messsage can now be measured in the digital marketplace. Tell your agency you will pay them on a Return On Involvement model. The longer viewers are involved in the commercial, the more the agency will make. The less time they involve the viewer in the commercial, the less the agency makes.

In other words, the better or more involving the commercial is, the more the agency makes.

Quite simple really.

Yet, most agencies still won’t do it. Why? Because they know.

They know that the advertising they’re being paid millions to create isn’t designed to be involving. It’s designed to create awareness. It's designed to break through clutter. It’s designed to create high “day after” recall scores.

To involve someone in a piece of advertising is a skill long sucked out of most creative people.

Yes, there are a few agencies that will prove the exception. These are the agencies that are still, for lack of a better word, storytellers. We all know the four or five agencies we’re talking about.

And chances are, they will probably be the first to branch out into this new way of being paid.

After all, they’ll make more if they do. The work will be better. And ultimately, advertising will be more effective.

That’s a promise.

And it's a promise that I don’t mind being held accountable for.

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