#Industry News

Agency-client partnerships: The cost of late briefing could impact 34% of revenue

Ever since the dawn of the ad age, agencies have been talking to clients about how to solve the ever-growing problem of briefing processes.

Recent IPA data highlights three in four UK agencies seeing their client briefs as unfit for purpose, whilst 80% of marketers feel they’re good at briefing. This speaks to the striking disconnect in expectations surrounding briefing agencies, in terms of both quality and turnaround times.

Brave account teams periodically run at the issue head-on through the development of shiny new templates, bullet-proof SLAs and refined ways of working in hope to fix the problem forever more. But despite time, effort, and good will on both sides, these tweaks rarely result in lasting change.

Without appreciating the different business structures of clients and translating the challenges into common language, performance impacted or currency that can be widely understood by the rest of the business – clients and agencies will continue to struggle to implement change.

Squaring a round peg: the misalignment of agency and client structures

The root of the problem is easy enough to identify. Agencies don’t appreciate the way clients’ businesses are structured, failing to translate the problem into a common language or currency that travels throughout the business. Meanwhile, brand teams are always tempted to wait for valuable product, sales and creative elements to fall into place before they brief so that they can be factored into planning.

Plus, agencies are founded on client-servicing excellence, always pulling out the stops to overcome obstacles and mitigate delays, over delivering to launch on time. We feel the instinct to jump through hoops too, but delays and cancellations comes at cost on revenue and effectiveness.

Breaking things down to the bottom line

The performance mindset starts right from the briefing process: it’s all about understanding what drives media performance gains, incremental revenue and brand growth, and what prevents it.

Rushed campaigns with compressed live dates lead to negatively impacted performance is obvious to the industry, and even outsiders too. What’s less obvious, though, is how to quantify this negative impact and translate end results into a language that all stakeholders understand.

Terms like “ad stock”, “weekly pressures”, “optimisation windows” and “algorithmic learning” are about as dense and mysterious as it gets in marketing. “Lost revenue” and “higher costs” are not.

Bridging this gap to push for positive change is our restless obsession with experimentation. We’ve collated mountains of historical data available to model the impact of late briefs.

The impact of late briefing

We modelled campaigns with the exact same budget and targeting, and found clients risk losing as much as 34% of revenue on retail platforms when activating over eight weeks rather than 12 weeks. Even with a relatively modest budget and sensible targeting strategy, we found that clients are paying 16% more to reach the same number of people in four weeks compared to 12 weeks.

To put this into perspective, if a client briefs a £100,000 budget a month late, and assuming a ROAS of £5 on a typical campaign, they’ve immediately lost out on £340,000 of potential revenue. If reach is a client's primary objective and they have a budget of £300,000, our models demonstrated that it would cost an extra £49,000 to reach exactly the same number of people in 4 weeks rather than 12.

These findings are as straightforward for budget holders to understand as they are difficult to ignore.

These experiments were designed to align media performance to campaign processes to unlock useful insight and realisation of revenue potential for growth. Equally important, it’s about embracing new ways of working and testing systems to collaborate and understand each other better, using the learnings to improve and maximise growth.


By Thomas Pettigrew, Planning Partner UK