AgencyNil: The Pay-What-You-Like Ad Agency

by Jacqueline McSwiney

in Marketing & Advertising

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agencynil - innovative business model

Describe the business model of a typical ad agency, and you’d be hard-pushed to use the words ‘meritocratic’ and ‘pioneering’ in the same sentence. Well, one agency has bucked the status quo for fat fees and retainers, and (shock, horror!) has decided to let its customers pay-what-they-like.

Much in the same vein as name-your-price holidays and restaurants, AgencyNil have taken the brave step of letting their talents determine their worth, and let their clients decide what to pay.

The logic behind it is straight-forward enough. At the same time as clients are cutting advertising expenditure, there are also plenty of talented ad folk being made redundant and new grads making their way onto the market.

Here’s the founder’s take (via BBH Labs):

“ENTER: the young, hungry, talented, not-afraid-to-take-a-risk individuals coming out of portfolio schools, graduate programs, and those from agencies – recently laid off but not yet spoiled by a big paycheck.

We can do the work, have the confidence and skills to do it well, we’re complete digital natives, and we don’t mind taking the risk of saying “don’t pay anything up front, then. We’ll do the work and if you like it, then pay us whatever you think is fair.” We’ll prove it.

It works out nicely for both parties. The agencies can feel like they’re shaving big percentages off of their expenditures and we the workers wind up doing better in the long run than getting sporadic freelance at a high rate. And we’re learning as we go . . .”

How AgencyNil Works

Potential clients submit a request via email, and AgencyNil pull a team together from their bank of between-jobber advertising professionals and smart graduates. They complete the brief in the time specified, and the client then decides what it’s worth. Any further tweaks or revisions are agreed once the first tranche of work has been paid for.

Cheaper than using freelancers, and better than relying on interns to crack a creative challenge, AgencyNil have explicitly outlined their belief that; “Advertising has evolved..there is no more advertising.. it’s a conversation that changes every hour” , and are self-declared digital natives.

Is this a visionary model for struggling agencies in a floundering economic climate?

Although they’ve been nimble enough to see beyond the linear model most agencies use – and realise that freelancers aren’t in consistent enough demand – will the businesses they’re targeting be willing to adopt this way of working?

It’ll be an interesting sell, but if they can prove their worth …


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