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Podcast: Should agencies scrap time-based charges?

Podcast: Should agencies scrap time-based charges?
The Media Leader Podcast

Caroline Johnson, director and co-founder of The Business Model Company, talks to The Media Leader about why media agencies are no longer fit for purpose and need to get rid of charging models based on employees’ time.

Agencies that provide media, advertising and marketing services are having to work harder than ever while hiring increasingly expensive talent to stay relevant. Johnson argued that agencies need to reposition themselves as consultants and start charging based on the outcomes they provide for advertisers, not just units of time spent working on an account.

“2024 is the make-or-break year for our industry,” Johnson warned, due to “lots and lots of external market factors [and] internal conditions that have become so heightened that they are causing burnout in our industry and a devaluation of the wonderful talent and capability that we have”.

This conversation should be considered a companion to our episode in January with Ryan Kangisser at MediaSense, whose advertiser survey last year revealed significant dissatisfaction with media agency models.

Listen below and hit ‘subscribe’ to make sure you get future episodes wherever you like listening to podcasts: 

Thanks, as always, to our production partners Trisonic for editing this episode.


1:50: What The New Business Model Company does and who it works with

6:20: Why are agency models challenged?

9:28: The way agencies pitch to advertisers is broken

14:25: Advertisers need to pay their agencies more

26:21: How AI can add value for agencies beyond replacing staff with machines

31:04: Agencies that are breaking the mould and future-proofing themselves

34:11: Aren’t all businesses suffering from information overload, especially in hybrid working environments?

43:09: Why Johnson is passionate about this industry


The Media Leader Podcast is a twice weekly show in which our journalists interview some of the most influential people in advertising and media, as well as the next generation of future leaders and rising stars. We also review the biggest stories in media and discuss our featured columnists’ latest opinion pieces.

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Nick Drew, CEO, Fuse Insights, on 02 Apr 2024
“An excellent episode and really long-overdue discussion of how agency models need to change! Working in and around PR agencies gave me a strong belief that time-based billing is just a broken approach, in which the agency has clearly different goals from the client, and in which there's often an incentive to just push the work down to the cheapest agency employee. All summed up perfectly in Caroline's point about "equating value to effort"”

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