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How Does A Media Agency Work


How Do They Really Work?

Media agencies work to service the client and consumer simultaneously. Media professionals use their real-world skills along with their data insights to determine the appropriate tactic for clients to connect to their target audience by knowing what they want, why they want it and how they want it.

Top media agencies put themselves in the consumers shoes to work out the best course of action that will promote behavioural change for people from all walks of life. We implement a media strategy and campaign that tells our client a story about who, what, why and how which enables the business to get a deeper insight into their customers thought process, therefore providing valuable insight that will in turn benefit the consumer.

Media agency accreditation is a thing of the past, the formal existence anyway. Whether that’s unfortunate or not is your own prerogative, some may say it breeds corrupt dealings and unqualified agencies and some may say it places a dose of accountability upon the business, promoting a healthy amount of competition and drive to prove your worth as an agency.

Media Agency Accreditation

In 1996, the ACCC revoked the advertising agency accreditation system administered by the Media Council of Australia mostly due to their being lots of processing fees, administration work and not a heap of benefit for the ACCC or the advertising agencies. Advertising agencies (usually included media buying and creative sectors) were immediately required to set up their own contracts with media companies.

Presently, it’s the responsibility of the media agency to deliver transparent, quality deliverables that clients can see and measure. Having a reputation, client reviews and case studies is your best form of media agency accreditation.

Media Agency Definition

According to Wikipedia, “Media agencies advise companies on how and where to advertise, and on how to present a positive picture of themselves to the public. Primary services include advertising, public relations and other forms of media management.

Media agencies were first launched with their main focus being the transaction of media space more efficiently than the mainstream advertising agencies, which had previously managed the process of media buying. A media agency ensures that a marketing message appeals to consumers, appears in the right place, at the right time and that the advertiser pays the best possible price.”

Formally, yes. Just like in any other consulting field, our job varies depending on what the client needs. We can be your advisors, data analysts or buyers.

Media Agency Discounts

The Media Agency discount is more than just a negotiated fee we provide on our client’s behalf. It’s the knowledge of how much a placement is worth and what’s worth negotiating and for how long. This knowledge takes practice and is left to the experts for good reason.

Think about it as ‘Media Agency Value’ instead of a discount, a good Media Agency knows exactly where and when your ad needs to be placed so we’re able to get the value from the placement. Of course, we have relationships with media owners and that’s how we’re able to negotiate prices but the process and knowledge are essential in bargaining spots.

Media Agency Business Model

The media agency business model fluctuates with the times, the scale and size of the agency and with the economy.

One benefit of the extinct media accreditations was that media agencies were given a mandatory commission that was formally agreed upon and the discount from the media owner was generous and outlined.

Media agencies can still opt for commission and although they’re still the clear avenue for getting discounts when buying placements, commission isn’t compulsory plus negotiating discounts aren’t set in stone so they can change at the last minute.

Another factor to consider in the business model is that due to the sheer number of media buying or full-service agencies in the market, competition is fierce and unfortunately (for us) that means service fees have gone down from around 7.5% to 2/3 % over the past 20 years.

Media agencies are either part of a network (nationally or globally) or they’re independent. Both have their obvious pros and cons but in our slightly biased opinion, we’ll outline a few.

If you’re working with or for a media agency that is part of a larger network, you can bet there are outside pressures and constraints that will effect the output or work.

Usually, KPI’s come from overseas and have no real relevance or understanding of the Australian advertising landscape – this can cause time and resources to be allocated to an irrelevant area. Some insights can’t be found in Datastudio but are much more valuable.

Small, independent agencies in Australia account for a huge portion of the media industry and for good reason. We’re known for being nimble, forward thinking and a little more personable if I do say so myself. We want to deliver the best outcome possible for our clients, not for someone sitting in Accounts on the other side of the world.

Working with small agencies gets you the benefits of media discounts, adaptable media planning and tailored, data driven strategies unique to each individual client.

Media Agency Fee Structure

The fee structure of a media agency is entirely dependent on how the business is structured, what works for the employees and exactly what type of work is being undertaken.

Here are a few ways media agencies bill their clients and why:

  • Hourly. Billing on an hourly basis is popular for consultant and contractors in the media industry. This is beneficial when you’re working for a client on one specific project or if the client requires comprehensive and thorough ‘one on one’ guidance. If you’re going down this track, it’s a good ideato take notes every hour and record your work. Also, if the project is going to be long and complex, hourly billing isn’t recommended.

  • Flat Retainer. A flat retainer is a pre-approved monthly fee, agreed upon by both parties. This one of the most simple and straight forward billing methods. Just make sure you have a clear understanding of all the work that needs to be undertaken and whether or not you’ll need to do overtime. This is beneficial when measuring business growth as you’re able to plan for the future, knowing you have contracts in place.

  • Percentage of Spend. This fee structure is popular with reputable agencies as they have the advantage of having larger clients with more spending capabilities. Knowledge of how much your client spends and what influences their spend is crucial when deciding if percentage of spend is the right choice. If you have clients that sell seasonal products for example, especially if they contribute greatly to your yearly figures, you might want to consider if percentage of spend is the right choice. Younger, agencies who are starting out may still be building their brand with clients who don’t have a huge expenditure so a flat retainer fee would be a safer way to go.

  • Commission based. This is another popular billing method used by all agencies to prove they’re serious about wanting the best for their client by investing as much risk as the client is. There are quite a few flaws in this method though. Sometimes you can put in all the time and effort needed to successfully market a product but the client won’t take your advice in updating their website for example so nothing is sold and you didn’t get paid. When it comes to invoicing, it can get messy. The pricing model would be complex and difficult to understand for both parties. This is really only recommended for ecommerce or direct selling.

Media Agency Roles & Responsibilities

Media agency roles and responsibilities can be fluid but almost always, there’s an Account Manager and Account Executive. Other roles are ever-changing and encompass a wide range of responsibilities.

Senior roles usually sit within the Business Development department and have titles such as Chief Marketing Office (CMO), Director or CEO who all focus on the success of their business and capitalise on their success to market their own brand.

Then, we have Account Directors/ Managers that manage the client relationships, ultimately solving their problems and retaining them for long periods of time. They hold all the responsibility for the work and are the point of call for both colleagues and clients.

Account Executives usually directly report to Account Directors/ Managers and are responsible for carrying out all aspects of the clients work. Usually skilled in digital and traditional media, they work extremely closely with the Account Manager who presents the work to the client.

Marketing Directors/ Managers are responsible for a marketing a specific process. They’re usually expert in a particular field and ensure it’s success for the client whether it’s a service, ongoing section of a campaign or a product.

A little less common but no less important are Traffic/ Production Managers. Basically, they manage projects by organising the right people and/or resources to do the job. Usually, they set up and implement the entire project plan or strategy and are responsible for its coordination.

An incredibly important & relatively modern role is the Digital Strategist. Their role is to oversee and manage the online marketing strategy for the client. This involves utilising and presenting key data on target audiences and recommended platform placements.

Essential to all Media agencies is the sought after, Media Planner/ Buyer. Integral to the agency is the task of planning, buying and negotiating media ‘space’ on behalf of the client in order to achieve the clients marketing goals.

Media Agency Services

Generally, media agencies provide clients with a range of differing services depending on their needs. Usually, these include but are not limited to:

  • Media buying and negotiating for TV, Radio, Billboards and online placements.​

  • Professional advice, direction and advertising counsel

  • Data and analytic sharing of key target audiences

  • Advertising and marketing of brands, services or products

  • Media planning and strategy development

Media Agency Tools

Some tools commonly used by media agencies are: