The 4A's Management Services team worked with members to develop strategies and benchmarks to facilitate the effective and profitable management of agency operations.
In order to facilitate inter-agency discussion and sharing of compensation best practices, 4A's hosted its first ever 4A's Compensation Summit in 2012 to provide agency management teams with strategic and tactical information to deal with clients and their procurement groups.
The How to Get Paid What You're Worth—Now summit featured industry icons and compensation thought leader discussions related to compensation challenges – opportunities, scope of work as a revenue driver, compensation fundamentals including labor, utilization, overhead and the profit imperative. Summit speakers also elaborated on 4A's Agency Compensation Transformation Doctrine—Strategic Pillars" principles. Top industry experts shared best practices in the areas of negotiating, performance incentive compensation, benchmarking and agency-client agreements.
How to Get Paid What You're Worth – Now content video recordings are available on the 4A's website for agency management teams to view and discuss. Members are also encouraged to recommend that clients view the summit information.
In 2012, the association also conducted several significant benchmarking surveys to help members with client compensation information:
The 4A's 2012 Labor Billing Rate Survey Report
provides the industry with hourly labor billing rate information that allows all industry constituents to satisfy their respective due diligence responsibilities through marketplace-based information for the currently predominant form of agency compensation, i.e., labor-based compensation.
The 4A's Digital Operations & Client Compensation Survey represented a collaborative effort by the association's digital board and finance committees to provide information about agency digital operations including revenue sources, relationship structures, monetization of I.P. and digital service agreements. The survey findings suggest digital services best practices and identified opportunities for structuring client‐agency digital services commercial arrangements.
In 2012, the association's new business committees introduced a 4A's New Business Activity & Process Adherence Tracking process to bi-annually track levels of new business activity and annually monitor review process adherence with industry best practices. Findings from the initial survey indicated that 2012 was a period of relative robust new business activity.
The 4A's Accounts-In-Review Analysis and the New Business Activities and Resources Survey information are recognized industry standards for benchmarking both the level and nature of review activity.
Over the past year, the 4A's new business community conducted a comprehensive range of initiatives to expand the awareness of and compliance with the ANA/4A's Guidelines for Agency Search. Many 4A's members are adopting the practice of sending the 4A's/ANA guidelines to marketers at the outset of all reviews as a means to facilitate discussion related to the client's review process and positively influence the client's review process.
The 4A's proactively works to provide members with the management tools needed to accommodate the rapid evolution of agency operations. For example:
• Clients, agencies and web development vendors face a challenging patent marketplace that features rapidly escalating software and design patent applications, systemic barriers to searching or insuring patent risks and sky rocketing growth in patent litigation in 2012. 4A's has promulgated patent guidance, introduced a patent information website (4A's Patent Web site), participated in government discussion on the need for patent troll reform and urged marketer collaboration on reasoned marketing related patent responsibilities, equitable indemnification terms and proportional limitations on liability.
• Many clients are opting to work on a project-by-project basis rather than via annual retainer relationships. 4A's committees continue to develop best practice guidance for project-based client arrangements.
• The 4A's production services teams provided guidance on: the prudent use of Pinterest as a marketing vehicle, successor liability under union-employer contracts, changes in California labor laws impacting the employment of models, rules regarding employment of union performers in right to work states, the impact of music licensing battles on agencies and their clients, and information on the unauthorized commercial use of Olympic designations.
• To assist agencies who now routinely develop digital software, web applications and tools, the 4A's community expanded best practice guidance on structuring digital agency-client arrangements which differs from that of traditional agency service agreements.
The 4A's provides extensive information to help members attract, develop and motivate agency talent. In 2012 this included:
• The annual 4A's Employee Compensation Survey is an iconic industry information benchmark that captures data for 35,000 employees at over 300 agency offices. The scope of the 4A's Employee Compensation Survey is not only unique but is information only available to association members.
• About Employee Benefits Series: survey reports provide industry trends on agency employee benefit plan structures, training, retirement plans as well as periodic monitoring of healthcare, leave and other employee benefit plan elements.
• The 4A's published an array of training program information for agency managers including a publication on "How to Build a Training Program", and HR Matters "Training in Agencies" bulletin that included training survey information from the perspective of both agency employees and agency management.