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Crossing the Tracks from Agency Finance to Client-side

Updated: Oct 12, 2023

In 2022, Becky Mock became Audit Director at Media Marketing Compliance in Chicago, having moved over from agency side. Most would agree that the changeover to auditing on the client’s behalf is an unusual one, if not a complete role reversal. In this interview, Becky shares how different life is on the other side of the tracks and what she’s learned on her journey so far.

How did you get into the industry?

After six years in non-profit theatre management, I moved into media advertising operations as I was able to transfer my skills in project management, budgeting, and team management. I enjoyed helping the agency media teams create and enforce processes that instilled best practices and efficiencies for executing media plans. As I moved into agency finance, I was tasked with ensuring contractual compliance for global clients and scope negotiations to deliver the greatest value for the agency. My understanding of best practices for media advertising and purview of negotiating contracts primed me for the niche industry of marketing financial compliance.

Why did you leave agency side to join a company like Media Marketing Compliance (MMC)?

Joining MMC afforded me the opportunity to better partner with advertisers to focus in on their best interests rather than building revenue for the agency. All the partners at MMC are leaders in the field and I knew I would be able to learn a great deal from their expertise. Leaving agency life to become an auditor has also enabled me to have a better work/life balance. Everyone at MMC is very conscious of each other’s workload and availability and strives to be as respectful of that as possible.

What does a typical day look like at MMC? A typical day involves communicating with agencies to better understand their processes as it impacts their contractual requirements, reviewing contracts, analyzing data provided by the agencies, writing the MMC audit report and presenting it back to the client, as well as providing any follow-up information they might seek post-audit.

What’s been the greatest surprise of moving from agency finance to the other side of compliance auditing’?

Coming from Agency Finance and Operations, I was used to instilling processes that exhibited best practices and met our contractual obligations. While team members made mistakes, it was never intentional, and we corrected them. I presumed that was how all agencies operated. I have since come to learn that presumption was heinously incorrect!

Several audits I have conducted while at MMC have revealed agencies’ failure to reconcile their media buys/ production schedules, provide contractual reporting, or track resource time in accordance with their agreed upon time and material fee model. While some issues may be due to simple oversight, some grievances are so severe it would seem to be a deliberate avoidance.

What do you see as the biggest positive of being a marketing compliance auditor?

We gain access to significant insights as to how marketers try to generate revenue. While I already had an understanding from my agency experience, MMC has given me visibility into various agencies and production companies, all of which approach revenue goals and client needs differently.

What’s the best single piece of advice you’d provide to advertisers now you’ve audited the contracts that you effectively managed on the agency side? Make sure you avoid non-transparent models if possible. If you do decide to opt-in, make sure you know exactly how much of your spend will be non-disclosed (i.e. non-auditable) and which of the agency’s related parties will be providing services and the actual value that they deliver and at what cost.

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