Andrew Stephens: founding partner at Goodstuff
Andrew Stephens: founding partner at Goodstuff
A view from Andrew Stephens

Independents have a lot to thank media owners for

The founding partner of Goodstuff explains why media owners seem to be shifting their focus from the big networks.

After what will no doubt be another excellent annual ISBA lunch, Goodstuff will throw open its doors on Tottenham Court Road to over 200 UK media owners to thank them for their support over the past five years in helping grow the Goodstuff business to over £100m in billings.

We are doing it today (4 July) because, of course, it’s Independence Day, and this will be the first year we are wholly independent, having successfully bought out Omnicom earlier this year.

We are doing it, not just for a good social and to see Bobby Din sweat over the roof top hog roast, but because we feel media owners do not always get the credit they deserve for helping the independent agency sector provide what is a more interesting and diverse agency landscape for clients.

Their support comes in all shapes and sizes. Importantly, media owners are supportive of our need to deliver commercial value and work with us to continually surprise clients used to the illusion that only network agencies can deliver highly competitive prices.

Media owners do not always get the credit they deserve for helping the independent agency sector provide what is a more interesting and diverse agency landscape for clients.

Beyond value, they actively lean into our business to help us grow by providing inspiration workshops and agency presentations, market and audience insight resources, entrepreneurial performance models, last minute special deals, and if they have something new to launch, they tend to come to us so that, while it’s in beta, they can manage it on smaller scale with trusted partners, and much, much more.

Possibly the best illustration of this is The Goodstuff Media Showcase where for the past two years we’ve had some of the UK’s finest media owners helping us put on an inspirational show for independent creative agency owners, ECD’s and planners. But why are they doing this? Why does their focus seem to be shifting away from solely being on the big networks?

The first factor is growth. The media owners are keeping a keen eye on the changing shape of their revenue base evidenced by the independent agencies growing at 15% YOY (vs networks at 4%).

Furthermore, a good proportion of this revenue is new to market digital businesses venturing outside PPC and affiliates for the first time who could one day turn into the big multi-million pound clients, so they want to get in early and build strong relationships from the start.

Secondly, none of our £100m is guaranteed to any media owner because we don’t do share deals. Unlike pre-packed annual deals which get done in December of the previous year, we take each and every campaign to market on a needs basis and, therefore, media owners are incentivised to pitch for what is generally categorised as incremental revenue.

Finally, I think media owners enjoy their time with independent media agencies because more is possible, faster. We can do things networks can’t – we can do deals on the spot, we can turn things around quickly, we can be more entrepreneurial in how we offset risk with clients and we will champion inventive work through our account teams right to the owners of our company out to our clients.

So today, is a chance for a small but growing independent agency to thank over 200 media owners for helping, supporting and spurring us on to bigger and better things.

Long may this continue and we look forward to carving the hog roast and serving the ice cold Kopparberg later. 

Andrew Stephens is a founding partner at Goodstuff.