Campaign asked me for a few words on the topics of whether the UK billings league table is an accurate indicator of agency performance. My thoughts, along with those of others probably better qualified to comment, are in the mag today, slightly edited for reasons of space. Here's the full version:
The media billings league table is like the wings of an emu. It is a vestigial relic whose function has been lost in the evolution of the business.
In the era when dinosaurs roamed the earth, agencies’ revenue was derived from commission levied on UK media spend. The more you billed, the more you earned. Nowadays we’re paid in fees. Those fees may relate to global campaigns, integrated work, design, branded content, retail, etc – any number of things totally unrelated to UK media spend.
It could be argued that in these times of ‘owned’ and ‘earned’ media, a good agency should be aiming to help its clients drive down their media spend by developing ideas that live beyond bought media channels. A client once observed to me, “I don't mind spending an extra £100K on fees if the work you do will save me £1million on media”.
According to the latest billings table, W+K London has fallen two places to number 33 in the UK. But in the UK rankings by revenue, the latest figures published put us at number 12 in the UK, with growth of 24%.
As an indicator of agency performance, the billings table is about as accurate as that other anachronistic work of fiction, the Campaign new business league table.