Agencies of all sizes are navigating a relentless storm of financial pressures. Namely, increased operating costs –it’s getting more expensive to recruit and retain good people, technology and data upgrades to stay competitive come at a hefty price, unused real estate, and more. Amid an unpredictable and volatile advertising marketplace, many are finding smart, alternative resources to scale their businesses and stay ahead. On the brand side, intense pressure to grow their businesses and reduce costs (at flat budgets) is the norm. Brands require extensive service and expertise from their agency across a complicated, fragmented marketing landscape – spanning all media channels and consumer buying stages. They expect their agencies to prove that their advertising investment is as efficient and effective as possible across the board.

As a result, agencies need flexibility in their model to scale their capabilities and service up (after wins) and down (after losses), while being as cost-effective as possible throughout the cycles. More than ever, agencies have been turning to freelance support – Forbes estimates that 50% of the ad industry could be freelanced in the next three years. However, this approach also comes with rising costs, an ongoing need to integrate freelancers into client business, and the resulting varying output quality. Most importantly, brands are not fond of agency staff turnover and prefer to build established and trusted relationships. AdAge recently described how agencies are turning to the big tech firms for assistance, loaning out resources for analytics work to keep campaigns moving.

There is a different option to consider: partnering with a Corporate Trade company.

Today, agencies can leverage a Corporate Trade partner as an extension of their own media buying team to generate efficiencies. Through these partnerships, facilitated by the right Corporate Trade company, the agency is assigned a media buying team who partners closely with the agency’s media planners to execute buys in “real-time” to their specifications (not remnant). It’s worth highlighting that in most cases, a Corporate Trade partner will operate under a nondisclosed media buying model, so it’s important for the agency to gauge their clients’ willingness to embrace this approach. Welcoming and encouraging a third-party audit is a recommended standard practice.

Compared to freelancers, working with a single source team extension over time enables better quality control with more reliable and consistent output. The agency has access to a buying team of media experts, without the overhead costs and often with no buying fees charged – a measurable value.

It’s incredibly challenging for agencies to stay up to date with capabilities while trying to manage growth. To remain competitive, many are receptive to strategies like this to provide optimum service, while benefiting from a larger headcount and smaller wage bill when they need it most. Collaborating with a Corporate Trade partner for media buying can lead to a competitive edge and enhanced value for an agency’s clientele. It’s an exploratory that will be worth the diligence.

This article originally appeared on the 4A’s website.


Active International’s media talent strengthens agency teams when they need it most. As the only Corporate Trade company affiliated with the 4A’s, Active International works with creative, PR and media agencies of all sizes globally. They have nearly 40 years of buying experience and a track record of impeccable execution across all media. Active International enables agencies to scale up or down, without sacrificing service or shouldering overhead risk. Active’s media solutions are designed to assist agencies in addressing temporary gaps in media staffing or enhancing their service capabilities long-term.

Contact Bethany Harris to explore what’s possible for your agency.

Bethany Harris
EVP Strategic Partnerships