Samir Ayoub is a man who needs no introduction. Still, here’s one. After leading Mindshare MENA for close to two decades, he announced his resignation at the beginning of 2016 and has now set up his own media audit agency, Medpush. In his time at Mindshare, Ayoub went through his fair share of trials and tribulations (and wins, as well) – at times becoming infamous for matters the industry is familiar with. So much so that his setting up of a media audit agency is ironic, but it could perhaps be considered a testament of his bravery – depending on which story you believe.
On the new move
Ignoring his options of either joining another agency – which is hard to imagine – or moving outside media and advertising completely, Ayoub chose to set up a media audit agency based on his learnings of the past 16 years. “I felt there is a gap in the market – not in terms of transparency, but in terms of maximizing efficiency. Hence, the slogan of the company: redefining media efficiency,” he says. Under the umbrella of media auditing, Medpush aims to:
- Set clear, fair and proper benchmarks
- Relook at media measurement and also push innovation forward. For instance, despite outdoor playing a key role in the media mix, it is still planned and bought the same way as it was 50 years ago
- Look at the use of data in planning, regardless of the quantity and quality of data available
- Understand the perception of digital advise on its use
It’s not only about improving measurement and monitoring, but also maximizing the efficiency of the agency-client relationship. Is the brief comprehensive? Does it cover all elements? Does the brief contain the data required by the agency for it to be able to develop a proper, effective and efficient media and communication strategy?
About the company
Ayoub admits that ‘audit’ is a scary word. “They [agencies] are scared it will affect the business, but that’s not what the company was created for.” He asserts that the purpose of his firm is to provide “peace of mind” to everyone, while maximizing efficiency and raising benchmarks.
Medpush’s primary customers are clients and secondary customers are media vendors, the latter being the targets for consultancy and training programs. “As part of driving efficiency, we need to improve the standards of the market,” says Ayoub. This can be achieved through training and educating clients and vendors. “Some clients are not that media-savvy, so the more they know media and understand how it works, they can challenge their agencies, push their boundaries and ultimately improve their ROI,” he adds.
On the need for auditing
As part of auditing, Medpush “validates” digital campaigns and, as an extension of that, it also validates data from Facebook and Google, because “today, when we talk about digital, DoubleClick or Sizmek play an important role in validating the execution and result of any campaign,” says Ayoub. However, when it comes to specifically auditing Google and Facebook data, he says: “This is a global trend; obviously, we cannot solve it on our own in the Arab world.” Moreover, he says it is the responsibility of the agencies to work with suppliers to address any gaps and areas of improvement. That said, “if Facebook and Google have nothing to worry about, they can welcome any [third-party auditing and measurement] company – worldwide or here in the Arab world – to come in,” adds Ayoub.
On credibility and reputation
Given Ayoub’s long-standing association with Mindshare, is it challenging to work with other agencies? While he says other agencies were “scared or whatever of what I would do next”, it was not so much of a challenge as Medpush works primarily with clients and the feedback from the senior management of other agencies has been largely positive. If anything, it’s quite the contrary, “since I was a media agency person for almost two decades and I know that, in some cases, agencies are not rewarded or organized properly and our role is to gradually try to convince advertisers to reward them properly,” he says.
Commenting on reports of money-muddling at Mindshare MENA, he says: “We have been audited by many clients, but I cannot recall any issue that happened at least in the past five years.” He goes on to add: “It’s known in the market that I am a man of credibility, so whatever I say and commit, I deliver it.”