The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising Council has been
discussing for the past nine months how to implement a more professional
and accurate way of measuring advertising agencies’ performance.
The IPA’s aim is to provide clients with information they can respect
and therefore bolster their view of advertising as a business-like
Therefore, it was opportune to read Caroline Marshall’s Perspective in
Campaign (11 December 1998) offering to publish two league tables on
behalf of the industry - one based on billings, the second on gross
income. I can assure Campaign that the IPA Council agrees this is the
best way forward.
As a trade body, the IPA’s main responsibility is to represent the
interests of all its members - individually and collectively.
The most extreme evidence in the industry of individual interest is the
regular publication of a league table to demonstrate how much more (or
less) successful one IPA member is than another. To ask the members of
the IPA Council to consider a proposal which places the interests of the
industry ahead of the interests of their own individual agency
represents potentially a significant conflict of interests for many.
Nevertheless, the members of the Council have decided to proceed on a
two-table basis. In short, they have put the industry first - in some
cases before their own agencies’ short-term interests.
Estimated billings still have a value in charting how much expenditure
goes ’through’ an agency and how much space has been bought in which to
place the advertising that they have created.
However, at a time when agencies are increasingly rewarded by fees or
variable commissions, and when agencies are increasingly involved in
remuneration for standalone marketing advice, direct marketing, website
design and other marketing communication activity, it seems the right
decision to introduce a complementary 1998 league table based on
For a number of years, the level of the subscriptions to the IPA itself
has been based on agencies’ gross income (traditionally it was on
billings), so our starting point in 1999 will be the submissions that
each agency makes in the first quarter of the year in response to the
There will then be a follow-up to the subscription request; each agency
will be asked whether they are willing for their 1998 gross income
figure to be published.
Agencies don’t have to agree. It’s not a condition of IPA
However, I hope that the majority will want to participate in the
publication of these figures.
Provided we have a good majority of IPA agencies, we’ll publish a table
of all agencies enjoying a gross income in excess of pounds 500,000,
which we estimate covers about 140 of the total IPA membership.
The IPA should be praised for putting a higher priority on collective
interest, rather than individual interest. I am hopeful that the rest of
the industry will follow this lead.