Rating System for Ad Agencies?

It sounds like my colleague Bernie Albers lit it up at last month’s “Innovators Roundtable Dinner,” hosted by the IAB.  He proposed an eBay-style rating system for ad agencies where publishers and other partners would vote them up for good service (frank and open communication, etc.), or vote them down for poor service (delinquent payment of invoices, late delivery of creative, etc.)  Scandale!!

But perhaps it’s more likely — and beneficial — than it sounds. Industry by industry, the internet has forced a new level of transparency to business practices that have been intentionally obscured from consumers and business partners. Inflated brokerage fees and retail pricing met this fate in the 1990s, thanks to online discount brokerages and comparison shopping engines. Google has begun the process of “rationalizing” direct-response ad rates online; and, ironically, their own black-box approach to sharing revenue with publishers is facing inevitable pressure.

As we saw in other industries, best-of-class agencies will force this issue — since a system that rewards better-than-average service gives them competitive advantage in winning new business. Change can be uncomfortable, especially for the incumbent leaders. But I say, bring it!

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