CYA: Covering Your Digital Assets is Good Business

Gary Thorup

Key Takeaways:

  • Your institution may not have ownership of the creative content or digital advertising accounts that your current agency is building & managing on your behalf.
  • Losing these assets during an agency transition is extremely costly in terms of lost data, creative assets, and time required to rebuild.

Key Actions:

  • Clarify ownership terms with your current agency.
  • Negotiate ownership of your marketing assets before you begin any agency transition.

In a past post “Breaking Up is Hard to Do” we talked about the importance of understanding what you own when it comes to your digital advertising created by an outside agency. Today we dive deeper into the financial impact of ending an agreement with a marketing agency without your digital assets.

Often we see a potential client who doesn’t know whether or not they own the content or campaigns their current agency has built and deployed for them. Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed some very messy break ups as they leave an agency and onboard with another one only to discover they don’t own any of the past marketing content or data.

Loss of Historical Data

Migrating to a new agency is more than bringing a copy of your ad content with you, the real value lies in the historical data behind it. Advertising is a matter of constant tweaking and testing of ad copy or content, determining how prospects interact, how they want to be engaged, and how they respond. Without the data, you are losing a significant amount of insight into the core dimensions of your advertising.

It could be detrimental to you if your marketing contract doesn’t specify you as the owner of these digital accounts. In essence, the amount of money you’ve invested in a previous agency who isn’t turning over the account is that much money’s worth of data that you’re losing. Depending on the scope, it could be millions of dollars of data wiped away, not to mention years’ worth of time invested.

Many digital advertising agencies create client accounts under their ownership without access ever provided to their client. This means that the agency owns the account, and most likely, will not transfer that account information over to you or your new agency. If you haven’t been paying your digital media costs directly to the platform (such as Google or Facebook), the platform will also be unable to help transfer the account.

For this reason, you may want to change the terms with your current agency so that you are paying your digital media costs directly to ensure that you’ll be able to assume access and control of the campaign if the agency relationship changes in the future.

If you are thinking of leaving your current agency and shopping for a new one, this is one of the most important questions you can ask. It could be in the fine print of the agreement, or simply not discussed in the preliminary stages, so ask up front who owns the digital property once the agreement ends.

Lost Revenue Opportunity

Without ownership of those digital advertising assets your new agency starts at square one. Which takes time and increases costs.

They’ll need to start from scratch with a strategy and content plan since you won’t be able to supply the data on your last successful campaign.

Your new agency will be covering the same ground as your previous agency, testing and tweaking, all while you lose time and traction. It can take between three to six months to build momentum from a new digital ad campaign, which for most schools can mean significant challenges in terms of hitting start budgets.

You’ll need to make sure you have ownership of all the assets. Landing pages are unique from your actual website. Some agencies will build them out but not transfer them over, which means building a new account, new landing pages, and back tracking to change the destination URL of the Google ads. It adds a double whammy while you wait for Google to quality score the new URL, and since Google is a major part of a student’s search, you’ve lost traffic.

Resolving Ownership Conflicts

First, you need to find out what the terms are with your current agency. If it’s already agreed that you own all creative assets and digital media accounts, congrats! You’re all set.

But if that’s not the case, you need to start taking steps to protect yourself.

  • Negotiate If you’re not in the immediate process of changing agencies, simply addressing this matter now could lead to a relatively straightforward negotiation with your current agency. Make sure you’re both on the same page relating to account and content ownership. Most of the time, you should be able to come to terms.
  • Request Admin Access Most major digital advertising platforms have sophisticated User Access settings that enable several different user access level. It is in your best interest to have Administrator Access to your accounts that helps you maintain control of your own account. As an Administrator, you can shut out others who you do not want within your account, including your current agency. You also get direct visibility into how your account is being managed. Very important!
  • Pay Digital Media Costs Directly When invoices from Google, Facebook, and other digital advertising platforms are being paid directly by your institution, you have a far greater chance of getting their assistance when it comes to transitioning ownership of your account. In their eyes, whoever is paying for the media costs is the ‘owner’.

MDT Marketing can also assist you with questions regarding the transfer of digital assets. If you have questions on your current agreement with another agency or want more information on the best way to start a new relationship, the team at MDT is happy to help. Contact us today.