Media monitoring contracts: How to avoid getting locked in

In the last decade media monitoring has evolved continuously to match the pace of change in how news is consumed.

There’s just one exception – the contracts used by media monitoring companies haven’t evolved – at least not in the way clients should expect.

The average media monitoring contract used in New Zealand is nothing short of a disgrace. We’ve read a lot of them and they tend to share several disturbing characteristics:

1) They are written by and for the company that wants you to sign them. Their focus is all about your responsibilities as a customer to your supplier.

The supplier’s responsibilities to you to tend to be included very much as an afterthought – and in the vaguest language possible.

2) They run for a minimum of a year – and frequently for up to three years.

3) And this is the worst bit – they routinely include an automatic rollover clause that signs you up for another one-three years if you don’t terminate the agreement before the end of the term (you typically have to provide notice 30 days and sometimes up to 90 days prior to the end of the term. If you do it a week before the end of the term – they’ve already locked you in for a further one-three years).

It’s embarrassing. We’re embarrassed on behalf of the entire industry. Someone should be.

You might be thinking – everyone’s doing it and I want the service, so it doesn’t really matter.

Everyone isn’t doing it and it does really matter.

Fuseworks doesn’t ask clients to sign contracts – it’s an important part of standing behind our product.

Sometimes a client will ask for one and we obviously oblige – and we require a term commitment in exchange for providing a discounted rate. By and large though, we don’t do contracts – and never on the onerous terms that traditional media monitoring companies insist on.

We think of it this way – if our clients don’t want to stay with us, then that’s on us. In that situation we would clearly be doing something wrong.

Luckily our customer churn is virtually non-existent. We’ve found the lack of customer lock in a very powerful incentive to be ultra responsive to clients and zealous in our commitment to continual product development.

Based on feedback from customers that have moved to Fuseworks from other providers – the opposite happens when you sign onerous contracts. And is that really surprising?

If you’ve signed a ‘standard’ contract with a traditional media monitoring company – they don’t really have any incentive to make it work for you. The customer service might be terrible and the product poor – but they’ve got you – and with automatic rollovers the window for you to find a better provider is tiny.

The other thing that is clear from decades of continuous evolution of the media space is that change is constant. The provider that’s best suited to provide media monitoring solutions today may not be the best option for you in six months – let alone in three years.

We’re not going to pretend Fuseworks has no level of self interest in urging organisations to say no to contracts – we do.

We know not having contracts has worked well for our clients and as an internal motivator for us. We also know that contracts are a tool used by traditional media monitoring companies to stifle competition in the market. By shrinking the window of opportunity their clients have to look alternative providers – these companies are:

  • Reducing the chances of their clients finding out there are smarter media monitoring solutions available.
  • Giving themselves the chance to just wait out communications professionals that are dissatisfied with their service (a media monitoring contract will frequently outlast the tenure of the comms person who signed it. A new person coming into a comms roll may not know what the terms of existing agreements are and can’t find the documentation – which leads them to not realise there is a contract and then missing the window to review the service before an automatic rollover occurs).
  • Perpetuating an environment of overcharging for services that can now be provided much more cost effectively than was once the case (you’ll notice that charges tend not to drop as these contracts rollover – unless of course you show them that you can get a better deal elsewhere).
  • Eliminating their incentive to invest in product development. If they are going to get paid anyway, these companies have little reason to make their products better.

If you’re ready to say no to onerous contracts and unreasonable lock in – give Fuseworks a call.

Even if you’re not ready to make a change, we hope you’ll consider pushing back on the terms requested by other providers.

Check contracts carefully. Add the expiry date and any other significant dates to your calendar – and allow yourself time to review your options before letting the agreement rollover.

To guarantee you get the chance to review your options, let us know your contract renewal date and we’ll make sure we get in touch at the right time.