Why Transparency from Advertising Agencies is Crucial
If there’s anything we at The Ward Group have learned in our 37 years of existence, it’s that gaining and keeping client trust is crucial to the success of advertising agencies. The trust a client has in an agency’s handling of its advertising affairs is the bedrock of a long, fruitful client-agency partnership. To this end, it behooves advertising agencies to value transparency in all dealings with clients. Transparency can come in several types of forms: transparency in planning, transparency in reporting, transparency in pricing & more. Without transparency at all steps of the media buying process, advertising agencies risk alienating or misleading clients, which will not lead to a good ending for any party involved. Conversely, if transparency reigns supreme, the options are somewhat limitless for what a client and agency can achieve together over the long run.
Transparency in Planning
Setting client expectations in the planning stage of media buying is crucial for advertising agencies big and small. Too many times agencies play the role of “yes men” rather than being realistic and upfront about what is possible to achieve. A client with too small of a target audience in mind will not be able to achieve mass brand awareness or a very large purchase lift. Clients with too small of a geography likely will not be able to tap into location tracking ad tech. The list goes on and on. Agencies need to be transparent about the realistic performance metrics a client can expect to receive within set campaign parameters or budget levels, or else they risk failing to meet client expectations, which can put a strain on the relationship and jeopardize its longevity. Instead, agencies should be proactive in helping clients understand what can be realistically achieved when approaching new campaigns. By choosing transparency, trust is fostered from the beginning, and everyone will be aligned on the projected outcomes to expect from the campaign.
Transparency in Reporting
Once an advertising campaign is launched and performance starts to be generated, the advertising agency is ultimately in control of the narrative around the campaign based on the reporting. Some agencies feel tremendous pressure to frame performance in a positive light no matter what. Not only is this not fully transparent, but it’s also an indicator of a lack of trust in the relationship. Advertising is not a perfect science with completely predictable outcomes. Not every campaign will be a homerun, and both client and agency need to be on the same page with that reality going in. Only reporting through rose-colored glasses might mislead clients into continuing to spend their precious ad dollars without suspecting that the so-called experts (the agency) are leading them on. Eventually, the cat will get out of the bag, and the longer the agency strings the client along, the worse the result will be for all parties involved.
On the flip side, the top advertising agencies will choose transparency in reporting, even when the results aren’t fun to pass along. If a campaign does not achieve the desired results or KPIs, or if there is a downtick in performance, it is extremely important for agencies to call out the underperformance, dig into the issue, and work toward a solution with the client. Agencies can help investigate potential issues with the client and work toward performance improvements for future campaigns. Although more difficult and labor-intensive, the trust gained in the agency by the client will lead to a stronger relationship as time goes on. It all starts with choosing transparency.
Transparency in Pricing
One of the common knocks against advertising agencies is the expense. Many agencies have tricky, misleading, or just plain hidden pricing structures. Oftentimes, clients have no idea how much of their advertising budget is going to active media and how much the agency is taking in fees. One of the easiest ways to undermine client-agency trust and promote resentment and suspicion is to not be transparent in pricing and fee structure. Agencies that are upfront and open with their clients about their pricing models will oftentimes get the benefit of the doubt when performance isn’t as strong, compared to an agency that hides their agency fees behind hard-to-understand models or just plain deceit. It all goes back to transparency.
Choose transparency with The Ward Group!
The Ward Group prides itself as an agency built on transparency. When we say we’re media stewards, we mean it. We treat each client’s budget as if it were our own money, and we provide transparency every step of the way, from planning to reporting to pricing. Contact The Ward Group today if you want a client-agency relationship built on trust & transparency!