Every year when the billings league tables come out, there’s a batch of disappointed agencies that shout very loudly that billings are no longer a relevant marker of size or success.
Billings might only be one marker, and a fairly crude one at that, but they remain one of the most accessible and comparable measures of a mainstream agency’s business trajectory.
Agencies in rude health don’t see their billings decline by a quarter (CHI & Partners, say, or M&C Saatchi) in one year. Conversely, it’s harder to accuse Grey, for example, of excitable hyperbole when you consider that the agency’s measurable billings actually rose by a whopping 37 per cent over 2015. And for Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO to continue to grow, breaking through the £500 million billings barrier, is a clear signal of vitality.
Sure, many brilliant agencies produce work that isn’t measured by a tally of paid-for media budgets. But, right now, our industry can’t measure that in any meaningful way that allows us to compare performance across the market. So billings it is… for now.
This year, though, we have introduced a new yardstick against which we will start to evaluate performance: diversity. The gender and ethnicity figures here are based on the data in the Campaign/IPA diversity report, which was first published in January 2016*, and we will now track progress against these important metrics.
Finally, the school reports themselves are not designed to compare one agency to another but to judge a company’s performance on what could have been expected of it. An agency that scores an eight is not necessarily a better agency, capable of producing more effective work with smarter people and higher-calibre thinking, than an agency that scores a five.
-Claire Beale, global editor-in-chief, Campaign