Clients could be attracted to Billetts' new offering

Thomson Intermedia is changing, and it is changing in a way that could have repercussions for all media agencies.

Steve Barrett, editor of Media Week
Steve Barrett, editor of Media Week
The research and auditing group, which includes media auditor Billetts among its constituent parts, is rebranding more of its proposition under the Billetts umbrella.

The firm has traditionally been paid by clients to monitor and audit its media investments; it is now setting up a new service to go into media agencies prior to the client's plan being implemented.

Billetts Marketing Investment Management will review the plan pre-campaign as well as continuing to audit it afterwards, with clients paying for both parts of the process. One theory behind the service is that most media plans tend to be based on the budget that the client has available, rather than what other clients are paying to achieve similar things - so it will presumably be designed to bring down costs, among other things.

Billetts already measures the majority of the market and, on the one hand, this new venture to add to its auditing bow could be seen as an inspired idea that will spark a sea change in media planning.

It may also be a reflection and formalising of something that is already happening; in that, if agencies know they are going to be audited after the event, they might see it as prudent to run some things past the auditor beforehand to safeguard potential problems further down the line.

On the other hand, agencies may see it as yet another interface for them to manage, and another set of eyes to have to involve in the creation of the media plan. They may opine that media monitoring firms are full of auditing specialists, not media planners, and that it's another step down the road to the commoditisation of media and more pressure on already-tight margins.

There are lots and lots of people in media-land who make their living out of saying "no". The new Billetts offering could be attractive to clients, but it mustn't take the creativity out of media and reduce it to a numbers game, for the man from Del Monte is becoming more and more of a minority in his willingness to say "yes".

Steve Barrett is editor of Media Week
www.mediaweek.co.uk/stevebarrettblog

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