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Agencies: Boycott E-Auctions
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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We all know that advertising — good advertising — is not a commodity. Work should not go solely to the lowest bidder. Work must be proven. For the past several years, we have seen our industry be cheapened by agencies and freelancers alike who would sweep in and do work way under the value set by the marketplace. We've seen it, and we're sure that many of you who read Beyond Madison Avenue have seen it as well.

And brands and marketers are ready and willing to exploit them.

It's hard to blame those agencies and freelancers who do it. Let's face it, in this economy, every good and service faces some kind of devaluation. Plus, in our industry, in most cases no client means no paycheck. In the whole scheme of things we too would rather see people get business to live than starve. Sometimes things have to give.

But with brands spending again and competition ramping up, we cannot base the race on price. But apparently certain brands think they can. In this article, Alexandra Bruell examines the rise of E-Auctions: online rooms where a brand gathers potential advertising partners together and has them bid on the work based only on price.

Naturally, AdLand is not happy about this.

As one ad professional said in the article, this form of picking agencies, though it may save the client money in the short term, devalues talent and will no doubt turn away agencies that have respect for themselves and the creative process.

We say, let us all turn our backs from e-auctions.

AdAge wrote about this, and in the comment section Craig Cooper correctly stated that "Agencies really have to start showing themselves more self-respect." We couldn't agree more. Yes, winning business is important, but we need to start realizing that the client pool is much bigger than we think, and we do not have to subject our agencies to this kind of nonsense.

Clients aren't always right. If they were, they wouldn't come to us in the first place.

Agencies need to tell brands that enough is enough. No longer will we compete solely on price, and they need to start respecting the creative process. More importantly, we need to hold other agencies accountable. This will not work if agencies break away from the stand.

Or we can implement our own e-auction for brands. Why not? If brands are looking for agencies, we can group them together, and tell them that we won't even consider working on your brand unless you're willing to spend "x" amount. Make it worth our while to work with your brand. Though it's not quite a kick in the teeth as totally abandoning the e-auction idea, we can certainly show them how it feels to be relegated to price.

Either way, let's get rid of this e-auction nonsense, and start serious negotiations.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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