Press Coverage

Do you know which Barter strategy to use?

Dean Wilson 22 Mar 2011

As a media agency, do you know which Corporate Trade strategy to use?

Corporate trade, once the ugly duckling of the media world, has in recent years come of age. In fact, it’s an industry that’s set to prosper – particularly in these difficult economic times.

Why? Well, media agencies and brands are starting to see how these businesses can effectively boost their media and marketing campaigns by unlocking value from underperforming assets – an increasingly important task amid budget cuts in a tough trading climate.

As corporate trade reaches maturity more opportunities than ever are available to agencies and brands.

It also means media agencies are becoming increasingly bewildered as to what their strategy should be with corporate trade, so I would like to set the record straight about what choices they have…

Key questions that agencies need to ponder, include: do I set up a corporate trade business in-house; or do I work with an existing independent corporate trade company – and if so, should I work with them on an exclusive, or recommended, basis?

Some global media agencies, such as Interpublic, have established in-house corporate trade divisions. This could be an attractive option if you have a huge client base at your disposal. However, it is arguably the highest risk approach in terms of cost of investment. Just one of the big challenges is sourcing and employing experienced staff, often with skillets alien to the normal agency requirements.

A further issue with this model is that those media agencies that set up such a company will struggle to win business outside of their family group. After all, media agencies that are not part of the group will be worried about confidentiality and conflicts of interest. This potentially limits the scale and scope of an in-house opportunity.

When it comes to working with independent corporate trade businesses there are many different ways of working. Some media agencies have an exclusive relationship with a corporate trade partner to handle all their work. While on the positive side this means the media agency can work with a business they trust, they must also remember that corporate trade companies have different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore an exclusive relationship will potentially restrict the agency’s ability to offer the best solution in the market and deliver one that meets the needs of clients.

Most agencies are working with corporate trade partners on a recommended basis. This is when they introduce one or maybe two corporate trade companies to their clients after conducting due diligence on their behalf. In fact some agencies have made a modest resource investment in order to smoothly coordinate this process. This means that clients get a choice and the door is not closed to you working with any of the other corporate trade players should the situation arise.

In my opinion, this is the best working solution for media agencies with corporate trade providers. By working in this way, agencies are able to offer flexibility and variation to their clients, based on their needs. They’ll also have access to independent corporate trade businesses who are the ones leading the way in the UK and so can successfully take advantage of their Investment, skills and experience.


Dean Wilson

Contact us

If you'd like to work with us or find out more information about Active, get in touch with us by email or phone

020 7520 6666