By: Katy Bachman, Adweek
Huw Griffiths, Global Chief Performance Officer, UM

Agencies like to talk about being partners with clients. Huw Griffiths, Universal McCann’s global chief performance officer, has turned that aspiration into a reality, leading the movement toward pay-for-performance, a revolutionary approach to agency compensation that rewards agencies based on their clients’ business goals.

Instead of being rewarded based on how well a media plan delivers gross ratings points or meets media reach and frequency measures, under P4P an agency is judged—and compensated—according to nontraditional metrics. Here, client and agency agree upfront on a compensation plan based on variables that may include sales, store traffic or shifts in consumer perception. “Our clients will be judged on financial metrics, so we’re judged and paid on those same financial metrics,” explains Griffiths. “If we get paid more money, it’s because our clients made more money. It’s a self-funding program.”

Under Griffiths, UM has converted fully half its client roster, including Chrysler, Johnson & Johnson and Sony, to P4P.

Working out the perfect recipe of metrics seems a natural for Griffiths, a self-described foodie who spends his off-hours in the kitchen. Griffiths devises performance metrics much in the same way he whips up his favorite pasta sauce: mixing and sampling in search of the perfect blend.

In formulating just the right mix, Griffiths draws upon 18 years of experience in media research and advanced analytics. In some cases, he and his clients have come up with whole new ways to judge a campaign’s success. Adding nontraditional metrics to the mix has enabled UM to, among other things, monitor the performance of marketing plans in real time and make changes on the fly.

Griffiths’ command of the decision sciences may seem daunting, but don’t call him an ROI rocket scientist.

“I’m not a fan of complexity,” he says. “I try to simplify things as much as possible and keep the focus on what we’re trying to achieve. It’s just an intelligent approach.”