How to define its own marketing budget and have a benchmark? The answer of VA Consulting – Arbitrio – Advertising Production Advisory

READ MORE: Engage Magazine – The Production Advisory & Cost Control company leaded by Alessandro Arbitrio supports in a precise manner the companies in their initial definition of the costs to get started a communication project.

In the definition of an advertising or communication project, it is crucial for the marketing to have a benchmark of reference.

In fact, the initial definition of the project costs is one of the pivotal points that are impossible to disregard in order to have a global vision and an optimization of the total expenses. Just to mention a few examples, we can think about starting a competition among agencies, shooting a commercial, a radio spot or a digital campaign, an e-commerce system, a website, a social campaign or a post-production adaptation, or even developing creative material meant for sales points or an event.

This step takes place throughout the communication within the marketer, who needs a campaign for its own brand, and the Finance/Purchase Department of the company that has to allocate the budget for its development.

How to make sure that the Communication and Marketing Department manages to illustrate to all the members the project itself and especially the correct cost report?

The answer is: using specific skills and a benchmarking tool, such as the System-SICS, a single system of analysis and management of marketing and benchmarking projects.

What is System-SICS

System-SICS is a system specifically designed to provide the customer with the possibility to access a database of about 140.000 quotations belonging to 12.000 marketing campaigns already carried out in all industry sectors.

Last October, System-SICS has been enriched by Influencer benchmarking and Ratecard Calculator forms (read here). Now this system is part of the benchmark activities of VA Consulting and is intended to support the marketing department at the time when it is necessary to understand how much money the company will spend for every section of the project, giving the Finance and Procurement units the correct figures, in order not to throw up unpleasant surprises.

Furthermore, looking deeply into this point, VA Consulting monitors each step of the campaign making, in order to ensure that the funds previously allocated are properly used and for the appropriate day-by-day supervision, which is also useful in the event that some changes and cost variations happen in the making.

Every benchmark provided by VA Consulting using the System-SICS is calibrated on the dimensions and on the real customer requirements, who can also benefit from the VA Consulting experience in its application and reading.

«The application of this tool to its own projects paves the way for a work-in-progress with which it is possible to develop a historical profile of the customer company, on which we can adjust the efficiency for the future investments in the advertising and communication fields. » Alessandro Arbitrio, CEO @ VA Consulting – Advertising Production Advisory & Cost Control, explains.

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VA Consulting ‘s COVID-19 production guidelines to re-think the advertising world at the time of Coronavirus – Advisory – Arbitrio

READ MORE: Engage magazine

The new emergency pushes the market to make use of great consultancy not only for problems related to cancellation or postponement of events, but also to the ones connected to production and that outline new messages.

Taking a look at advertisements on the TV in the last few months allows to note that something is deeply changed. Lately, we indeed experienced a fast shift in perspective in the major television campaigns which are no longer putting the focus on the product – that seems to act as a backdrop – but on values and people instead, whether they are the targets or production companies partners. Being forced to stay at home for such a long time has led to take effect on both consumers’ habits and advertising production. People are using up more television content (+17% during daytime compared to the same period in 2019), digital content (+50% of news, videos, chats and productivity), also buying more products online (+20% than in 2019).

This rise in figures is due to the time spent at home and to new needs, among which positive messages, especially related to family. Advertisement has been able to monitor and meet these needs, often thanks to domestic settings of commercials. All of this leads to two reflections: advertising world has slowed down its growth, but has never stopped. We will fully grasp the new opportunities dictated by the aforementioned increased percentages, only by following some important recommendations in the production field.

How to handle audiovisual productions and their (possible) cancellation

With current restrictions to movement, in a constantly evolving situation, it would be appropriate: to be flexible; to use personal photo/video archives; to talk in streaming with its agency in order to solve eventual problems; to adapt the script to new demands (talking about values, community, future hugs even before the product, but always with the foresight not to cause panic in consumers, using campaigns suitable to drive them to the urgency of purchase); to cast talent adept at embodying the new messages; avoid crowded sets and excessive interaction among the actors and with the crew. Options in computer graphics will surely be the future of advertisement, as in the cinema. Moreover, it is fundamental to verify that the costs of cancellation or postponement of audiovisual productions are revised in detail, in order to check the not refundable expenses. A review of the insurance policies will show which costs may or may not be covered by clauses linked to pandemic, taking into consideration that eventual complaints or refund requests related to Covid-19 could hardly be fulfilled and certainly not quickly. It will also be important to reassess talents’ contracts because of the current situation.

What to do if an event is cancelled

If an event related to advertising or film world is cancelled due to Covid-19, it is necessary: to review insurance covers in order to verify if a cancellation policy exists; to double-check the agreements with agencies, production partners and third parties for possible terms of cancellation; to negotiate their feasible fees, also verifying whether there are state deals to facilitate practises. Finally, please be aware of a possible alternative, that is the choice to organize a virtual event that can be substitute for the live one.

<< In this context, the must-have is maximising the efficiency of marketing and communication operations, considering the investment and the channels to use in the most appropriate manner. Competitions and selections of creative agencies, TV commercial productions and photoshoots, events and press campaigns have been cancelled or postponed. However, this situation does not preclude that we will find new opportunities to communicate through digital channels >> Alessandro Arbitrio, Ceo @ VA Consulting – Advertising Producion Advisory & Cost Control, explained.

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Agency Pitch: the management of the agency pitches also in smart working during Covid-19 – VA Consulting – Alessandro Arbitrio

READ MORE: Engage marketing

The pitch management & agency selection criteria in the creative sector, according to VA Consulting. Now more than ever, during Covid-19 emergency, brands, managers, agencies, media, consultants, the entire advertising industry, are undergoing huge changes, implementing real revolutions in their single way of operating.

In light of recent international upheavals, the ones involved in business adv models are forced to re-parameterize their production approach strategies.

Many accepted the challenge, choosing alternative production models: shooting safely and remotely, taking advantage of the material already filmed, ensuring the on-air of effective and valuable spots for the TV channels, as the leading media to achieve a good penetration rating.

As for the pitches, is it possible to deal with them remotely?

Agencies and advertisers are more than willing to face the selection and therefore not postpone the processes until further notice

“The technologies and operating methods we have today can support us in managing the briefs remotely. It will also be important to simplify the business models supporting the pitches to optimize the assignment timing ”, says Alessandro Arbitrio, CEO of VA Consulting, the company specialized in production advisory & cost control.

“As a client-agency relationship manager it is important to understand how to support marketing in choosing the agencies to be involved in the pitch, as it is essential to guarantee a fluid and transparent process to obtain the most appropriate proposal, in line with the market benchmarks, especially in this moment of global crisis ”continues Arbitrio.

“Due to the reallocation of investments previously destined for ATL productions into recovery plans, we are experiencing a significant increase in agency pitch on new advertising projects in the digital and social area. A strategy shared also by the companies that before COVID19 had planned the realization of events or participation in trade fairs”.

“On the other hand, between streaming, e-commerce, digital news, the number of people accessing social media is clearly increasing in all age groups and our role as advisory & cost consultancy firm is also to support the customer in the management of budgets and their strategic containment “concludes Alessandro Arbitrio.

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COVID-19 Impact: VA Consulting | The new role of the advertising industry – Arbitrio

READ MORE: Engage magazine – COVID-19’s Impact | The new role of the advertising industry

Strength objectives, efficiency of communication operations and orientation towards innovation: that’s the advice of the company specialized in production consultancy and cost control to face the crisis proactively.

The speed and global spread of Coronavirus have led to a huge change in people’s behavior, they act with new patterns that are no longer predictable.

This is testified by different and new ways of working, such as smart working: not too long ago, in Italy, only 2% of Italian employees worked from home, today this percentage is clearly and exponentially growing, also involving those who work, in various ways, in the advertising world.
The watchword for brands is also “flexibility”.

How does the advertising world adapt to the changing needs of the COVID-19 world of customers?
In times as inauspicious as those that are taking place following the health emergency, the choice towards which to strive is to optimize investments to weather the storm.
Brands can make a difference, offering a positive and driving vision in the varied consumer habits. This VA Consulting’s advice, the independent firm that offers advice on the optimization of marketing investments.

“In this context – explains CEO Alessandro Arbitrio – the must-have is to maximize the efficiency of marketing and communication operations, evaluating in the most appropriate way investments and channels to be used. Pitch and selection of advertising agencies, TVC production, shootings, events and print campaigns have been canceled or postponed. However, this does not preclude that new opportunities to communicate can be found through digital channels ».
The transition to virtual alternatives is already clear: the explosion of digital consumption (from productivity to chats) with peaks by + 50% in the news and video sector and the e-commerce exploit which, compared to last year, increases even by 20% for the same base, they are proof of this. More and more companies are making their services available through digital apps and tools, which allow the systems to operate and ensure the safety of customers and employees.

“History provides evidence that brands can overcome difficult situations – continues the manager -. Some brands have bravely faced moments of crisis through innovation, customer relations, alternative pricing models and transparency in communications, while many of their competitors have stopped communicating or have remained loyal to old business models without investing in the relationship with consumers and thus losing their trust ».

Cutting the budget for some realities at this moment could be counterproductive, optimizing or reallocating it instead could make a difference in the future. “Our role today as production advisory & cost control, is even more to support our customers, providing them with the right tools to contain costs, helping them to emerge and adapt in such a difficult and inauspicious period of change”, concludes Alessandro Arbitrio.

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VA Consulting and Movie Auditor: in partnership for an increasingly competitive and advanced consultancy.

READ MORE: Youmark magazine – VA Consulting and Movie Auditor 

The two companies announce their new collaboration to guarantee their customers an even more complete and specific control on investments in marketing and advertisement. 

Movie Auditor & Consultant is the first Italian cost controlling company for the advertising production in the creative sector. Founded in 1989 by Gian Paolo Casini, today it’s headed by Pietro Casini, in collaboration with Nino Vanoli.

VA Consulting, Production Advisory & Cost Control company led by CEO Alessandro Arbitrio, was founded in 1994 by Vitaliano Arbitrio, it’s based in Rome and Milan and is active and operating in over 35 countries.

The partnership is meant to offer its customers increasingly thorough and integrated skills. Thanks to Movie Auditor, VA Consulting strengthens its significant expertise in the cost controlling of ATL (TV spot) productions and Movie Auditor, in turn, integrates its services with strong skills in the field of agency pitch & selection, TTL (digital & social media), KOL (influencer) and BTL (point of sales materials), event & PR offered by VA Consulting.

“We are very happy with this partnership” say Alessandro Arbitrio and Pietro Casini “being able to collaborate with professionals who share our vision allows us to offer an increasingly distinctive service, in all sectors.” ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

(In the picture, from left to right: Stefano Arbitrio, Pietro Casini, Nino Vanoli, Alessandra Pasquini, Fabio Arbitrio e Alessandro Arbitrio).

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Production trasparency: A good idea or basic requirement? – VA Consulting

But this can present an opportunity to make changes and identify areas for improvement.

Here are three steps to getting started: 
Step One
Identify someone responsible for managing production.
They could be internal resources with deep production knowledge, such as marketing, procurement or finance. Another option could be training one or more team member to manage the production processes, or eventually hire a production specialist to support and advise the internal team.
Choosing the right team is a crucial first step and it’s important to make sure the person/ team chosen has the right tools and resources to be successful.
Step Two
Implement solid policies, procedures, and guidelines. These, of course, should comply with your company policies and procedures but this alone is not enough. For best results, specific production guidelines should be updated regularly, be clear, address approval processes and should be shared with the employees to be trained. In this way, these procedures can offer a true benefit by defining transparent production practices, creating efficiencies in the production process, and reducing financial risk.
Step Three
Avoid surprises and issues in the process by conducting a thorough pre-bid meeting, to be aligned on all the elements of the production from the vendor selection, to music, location options, special effect, budget and so on.
The most critical decisions which can have a significant impact on transparency and costs are made early-on. Having standard processes and the right tools ensures transparent discussions and can avoid any unnecessary spending.
Perfect timing is the keyword here. That’s why reviewing invoices before payment is a best practice too. If something happens after the payment it causes issues and wastes time and money.
And speaking of time, that’s the moment to take an active role in managing production transparency.

Written by Alessandra Pasquini

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Communication objectives. Are you doing it right? – VA Consulting

Here’s how to make sure that’s not the viewer’s reaction to your new TV commercial.

Advertising is a-changing. Radio is shaped to audiences like a glove, internet channels are more targeted than ever and Programmatic TV is growing day after day.

At a time when we can identify the audience better than ever before, we can lose focus creatively. How many times have you watched a commercial but you were not even able to discern what the advertiser was trying to communicate? Or worst, a few hours later you couldn’t even recall who the advertiser was?
So, how can you avoid deficient or absent communication?

Here’s how, in one simple and feasible exercise with your agency, you can be sure the right people will get the right message out of your commercials.

It is called a Communication Objective. A Communication Objective is the summary of your advertising strategy or creative brief.

Of course, you have an advertising strategy. It delineates, at least, who should be interested in your product and what benefit they’ll derive from using it, your unique selling proposition. It may also include mood or mandatories, but the first three factors are the basics of any advertising strategy.

That’s also the essence of the Communication Objective. When your agency presents a storyboard, ask “What do we want the viewer to remember from this commercial?” Usually, communication objectives shouldn’t describe the look of the commercial.

While executional factors are important (and that’s what pre-production meetings are made for), they are not the key elements of the commercial that you want to be remembered. Of course, if you have a Communication Objective that wants the viewer to feel how easy and fun it is to clean with a particular detergent, you don’t want people remembering, “It was a dreamy moment with breathtaking music in the background”.

Communication Objectives should be few – less than five – even four it’s a bit much. If you have more, consider that you’re trying to get a single, focused playback expressing a single cognitive bit from a single viewer. Chances of delivering five different memorable communication messages out of a 30″ spot are very slim.

If you have multiple Communication Objectives, go through the storyboard and identify the particular parts of the commercial that are supporting each of the objectives. If you’re having trouble finding a match between storyboard and objectives – well, probably the viewer will, too.

Communication Objectives are useful at the production bidding stage, too. Efficient agency producers should include them in the material given to potential directors. This will be very useful for the directors to have a clear focus when they decide what their treatment or approach to the production will be.

Written by Stefano Arbitrio

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VA Consulting – Advisory & Cost Control enriches the Enterprise System-SICS with two tools: KOL benchmarking and ratecard calculator

Engage magazine – Enterprise System-SICS

VA Consulting, Production Advisor & Cost Controller marketing procurement consultancy, confirms investments of over 10% in the IT and application development area in 2019.

As part of its activity, VA international advertising Consulting combines strong skills in all areas of advertising ATL, BTL and TTL (Social media and Digital), with benchmarking, monitoring and reporting the spending of its customers worldwide. This is the key enabler to go beyond the skills of a normal international producer and to provide the governance of projects to customers by improving efficiency and maximizing marketing budgets.
Since the creation of the Enterprise System-6 modules in 2009, namely JOB (for real-time control and reporting of marketing campaigns) and AWF (workflow tool with which VA approves and classifies about 7,000 quotes per year), these tools have continuously been improved and perfected, making it possible to classify and analyse creative production investments.

Throughout time, VA Consulting has developed two new modules in order to expand and complement the services offered: KOLB (KOL benchmarking tool) and the FRC (FTE Ratecard Calculator). These acronyms might seem incomprehensible, but let’s explain them with a word that everyone knows: influencers. The KOLB System-Sics tool, “Key Opinion Leader benchmarking” allows, in fact, to validate the economic demands of influencers for their involvement in brand awareness on all media and non-media platforms.

On the other hand, the Enterprise System-SICS FRC FTE Worldwide Ratecard calculator allows VA Consulting to define benchmarks for Full Time Equivalent ratecards proposed by creative agencies or application development agencies in any city and country in the world. Yet another innovation that proves that VA Consulting is a reality that does not stop at national borders but expands globally.

It is with these tools that the company led by Alessandro Arbitrio strengthens its role, combining extensive knowledge in the production field with extremely innovative analysis tools. Thus, in 2019, the commitment to understand and anticipate trends is confirmed, allowing customers to control and improve processes aimed at maximizing available marketing budgets.

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Marketing Procurement professional: What 2019 is teaching us. VA Consulting by Alessandro Arbitrio

The conversation is finally changing for the marketing procurement professional.
Lessons here we´re learning working side by side with them, as production advisory & cost consultants.

Marketing Procurement executives are no longer talking about savings. They are recognizing the importance of value. Conversation with their partners. Only cost savings is the wrong conversation. It is clear that performance and efficiency goes well beyond saving when it is possible to combine tactical and strategic initiatives. When fully introduced into creative content production logic, procurement can help develop more flexible, critical thinking.
Marketing nourishes growth. Investing more in what works, making money work better and focusing on what is really efficient and effective to drive top-line growth, with a clever cost management.
the four P’s: process, people, partners and performance. Zero-based budgeting is unproductive and doesn’t serve growth.
Business silos should cease, thus connecting media, creative and production. The most challenging thing that is suffocating many initiatives is the silos within organizations. The key point is the need to evolve the behavior towards a common operational line. After all, everybody have the same goal: to bring their brand to success.
To consult with best practices and to validate their decisions is critical and more powerful than similar recommendations from an internal source, such as a procurement person working on their own. A correct choice of full production advisor & cost controller is what can shift and evolve business perspective.

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Defining the actual role of a production advisor & cost controller

READ MORE: Engage magazine – Defining the actual role of a production advisor & cost controller

Defining the actual role of a production advisor & cost control

What to expect when it comes to advanced optimization.

Who is an advisor & cost consultant nowadays? Or, better said, who must be?
In order to support customers optimizing advertising investments in the production of creative content, the analysis and optimization of a single project by a normal international producer / advisor – such as those related to TV commercials production – has now become “Business as Usual”.
Customers ask for more efficiency, total and real-time control of investments and a greater exchange of information with the Procurement.
This lead to more responsive working processes and, magic word: smart use of data and analytics.
Because a significant increase in efficiency in strategic areas of expenditure can only be achieved by collecting and analyzing data that can show improvable behavioral processes, thus offering actionable strategic insights.

Where most of the attention over the past few years has focused on technology selection and combination, it’s now more about capitalising and optimizing this capability.
That’s why the selection and study of these data is followed by a “root cause analysis” which can lead to Efficiency management project. The impact in terms of savings and cost avoidance is absolutely not negligible.
Here’s some concrete examples:
Studies such as the MPRD Marketing Processes / Procedures & RAM Definition and the implementation of RTSC Real Time Spending Control have led to the realization of numerous Efficency increasing projects like the MREF Marketing Reworks Efficency Factors and the PPEM Post-Production Efficiency Monitoring.

VA Consulting’s studies as production advisory & cost control firm were carried out using the Enterprise System-SICS database, which currently has a collection of approximately 120,000 estimates / final balances and 8000 ATL “Above The Line” (agencies / vendors selection, agencies pitch, TVC production, Radio production, Pre Press, Post Production, Usage Rights, FTE Ratecards, Talents), BTL “Below The Line” (POP, POS, Illustration, Logo Concept, Events & PR, Fair, Stand, Influencer, Key Opinion Leader) and TTL / Social & Digital (social campaign, social activities, web reputation, digital & social video production, app development, KOL “key opinion leader” & Influencer, AR/VR/MR, banner, website implementation, usability, contentest, SEO, Insight, DEM & Newsletter etc.) projects managed by CEO Alessandro Arbitrio of VA Consulting from 1994 to the present day. An impressive collection of information.
Once the database is used and clear and efficient projects are implemented, what’s the next step? Forecast analysis, obviously.

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