One of Australia’s major pitch consultancies TrinityP3 has today played down concerns, within the industry, about a new “capabilities benchmarking” service for media agencies, Calibr8or.
Agency sources have questioned whether there is a conflict of interest in the new venture, which is co-owned by TrinityP3 principal Darren Woolley and former Trinity consultant Stephen Wright, over it charging media agencies between $25,000-$40,000 a year for subscriptions to the service, while at the same time TrinityP3 runs many of the major industry pitches.
“TrinityP3 will still run pitches and we will charge clients for those services,” said Darren Woolley. “Calibr8or is a resource that TrinityP3 pays for to get an evaluation of media agencies specifically around their capabilities.”
“We still have our online register which all the agencies are asked to register on for free. They will still be included in all our considerations.”
Challenged on the conflict of interest Woolley said that no agency would be forced to sign up to the service.
“There is no requirement for any agency to be part of Calibr8or to be in consideration for a pitch,” said Woolley.
“TrinityP3 would be cutting off its nose to spite its face if it didn’t include all agencies available to the client,” he said. “We have an existing agency register which is open to all agencies to complete. Calibrator is just an additional service which TrinityP3 licences to provide us with a depth of information on all agencies.”
Woolley said he was unaware of agency concerns but said if any agency head had concerns “they should contact me directly”.
Wright said that so far 10 of around 30 agencies assessed in the service had signed up and that he was no longer an employee of TrinityP3, although he will still works out of the consultancy’s North Sydney office.
“I have left (TrinityP3) for all intents and purposes,” said Wright. “Callibr8or offices are at the same location (TrinityP3) but all Callibr8or does is allow TrinityP3 to be informed when talking to agencies.”
“We now have a more informed analysis of the varying strengths and capabilities of the agencies because it is an accurate footprint of what they can do and where their skills lie.”
TrinityP3 has long had a policy of not charging agencies to be involved in pitches.
It has run many of the most high profile media pitches in recent years, including for the likes of Woolworths and the Federal Government.
The CEO of TrinityP3 said the new product was catering to a gap in the market where agencies struggle to differentiate themselves.
“The reason for charging this as a separate company, was as a service for media agencies rather than for TrinityP3. When Stephen first pitched this he felt it was one of things that was missing in the industry was a way of getting feedback about how differentiated a particular media agency is,” he said.
“Only those media agencies wanting those additional consulting services that they get from him, in terms of feedback, and compare that to how their clients perceive them, is what they pay for. They don’t pay to be included in Calibrator.”
“This service benchmarks their capabilities. The problem is with benchmarking typically is that it all about their rates, but we are looking at capabilities. Everyone is out there saying we do data and analytics, we have a trading desk, saying we have good relationships — everyone says they are good at everything.
“What that does is it commoditizes the marketplace and then it becomes about ‘how cheap can I buy it’ so this brings back a rational, structural approach looking at the capabilities of media agencies.”