I-shops' pay

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Performance-based compensation is picking up momentum with interactive agencies. That's good for clients and for winning agencies. I-shops that lack the confidence or ability to put their performance on the line shouldn't be in the game.

In the old days (read: 2000), maybe it was OK to exempt i-shops from the pay-for-performance push. The field was young and experimental; agencies and clients were learning. What passed for performance compensation was more a get-rich-quick scheme: Shops took stock in dot-coms, betting on a lottery most would end up losing.

We live in a different world today. Interactive media, marketing and agencies should be held to the same standard as traditional media and agencies: Your work better work, or you're outta work. It's good that hourly bill rates are sinking at many i-shops as reality sets in. (See the nifty chart with our story "Singing for their supper" in the June 18 Ad Age.) It's better that marketers increasingly are compensating i-shops based in part on how well the work works.

The question shouldn't be what metrics to use to gauge performance. The metrics can and should be refined over time. The real issue is that interactive marketing needs to be held accountable.

We've said it before: Interactive marketing has a great future. To get there, the field needs discipline and accountability. The questions for clients of interactive agencies: If you have not implemented performance-based compensation, why not? And when?

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