In light of the information gathered, the A2C has determined that many requests for proposals comply with the industry’s best practices for selecting an agency. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to help advertisers realize the benefits of adopting these best practices and completely eliminate speculative work (any work that is normally compensated: creative and strategic thinking, media strategy, etc.). By doing so, advertisers would significantly increase the number of proposals received when the request is public, and they would be able to refine their search to find the right business partner.
Many agencies now refuse to take part in a process that does not comply with best practices because it requires too much investment and prefer to focus on their current clients. With this in mind, the A2C will improve the toolbox it has made available to advertisers in order to adapt it to the reality of projects vs. assigned agency, will add a section to help advertisers select a media agency and will provide better oversight of speculative work.
“There are still a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings when it comes to the work agencies do, resulting in selection processes that require too much work and are too costly for the potential gain. A strategy should be developed in collaboration with the advertiser, not required during the selection process. We cannot underestimate how much agencies need to invest when answering a request for proposals. This investment is even greater when speculative work is required. There are processes that are much more thorough and efficient for everyone involved,” said Dominique Villeneuve, President and CEO of the A2C.
The A2C knows that many advertisers act in good faith and that the problem sometimes comes down to the terms they use to convey their expectations. However, some advertisers deliberately rely on speculative work and even include a clause that states any work submitted by agencies becomes their property. That’s why the A2C offers a request for proposals model and free and confidential services to assist any advertiser in their agency selection process.
Key figures for 2018
- The A2C made 11 interventions to help advertisers modify a request for proposals that did not comply with the industry’s best practices, often because of speculative work, short delays, and ambiguity about the available budget.
- 29 advertisers consulted the A2C team in order to make their selection process comply with the industry’s best practices.
- 491 public requests for proposals were transferred by the A2C to its members as part of its daily monitoring duties.
Top 3 proven best practices
- Quality and relevance of the criteria used for evaluation: the main criteria are experience and cultural compatibility/chemistry. Must exclude any kind of speculative work (creative and strategic thinking, media strategy, etc.).
- Transparency and clarity: detailed budget, length of the mandate, specifics about each step, and selection criteria.
- Optimal selection process: at least 15 business days between each step of the selection process, scale of the process proportional to the mandate and the advertiser’s budget.
Action plan for 2019
The A2C will increase its actions, consultations, and presentations within the industry in order to continue perfecting the agency selection practices. New tools will be available to better explain these best practices and their benefits.
Consultation services and A2C toolbox
Any advertiser can take advantage of the A2C’s free and confidential consultation services to optimize their selection process and criteria with respect to their needs and the industry’s best practices. The toolbox includes a request for proposals model, a list of ongoing requests for proposals, a list of request-related needs, an evaluation grid example, and much more.