Effectiveness Accreditation

An IPA endorsement that your agency culture is dedicated to business effectiveness.

The IPA Effectiveness Accreditation is an endorsement that your agency culture is dedicated to business effectiveness. It can turn what you already do into a competitive advantage for attracting clients and talent.

All you need to know

    Key information

    Who can apply?

    The IPA Effectiveness Accreditation is available to all IPA member agencies regardless of discipline or size.

    Why apply?

    We believe that some of the benefits of obtaining accreditation are as follows:

    • It creates a measure of distinction for your agency, where distinctiveness is sometimes difficult.
    • It provides validation of your processes and culture.
    • It helps agencies to position themselves as true business growth partners to clients, and could potentially influence a brand into sharing data with your agency in the interest of effectiveness.
    • For smaller agencies, or those who work in narrower disciplines, it offers a recognition of their approach, when they may not have the resource to submit an effectiveness awards paper.
    • It can help clients justify their choice of agency, the working processes and, potentially, the work itself to their organisation.
    • It helps the industry to create a culture in which effectiveness is not only a goal, but, in time, a basic requirement, an expectation between brand marketers and agencies.

    In this video, the IPA Effectiveness team are joined by Chair of Judges Jo Royce to break down what you need to know about our new Effectiveness Accreditation, why it matters, how it is evaluated and how you can achieve Effectiveness Accreditation.

    Is there a fee?

    No, the accreditation is offered free of charge to all IPA member agencies.

    Application requirements

    The online submission, will be comprised of two parts: an essay and a video submission. These should detail the organisation’s philosophy and approach to effectiveness, and demonstrate why it’s important to their business. Prior to submitting, it is expected that you will have obtained sign-off from your agency’s leadership team.

    Part One

    A written description of 1500-2000 words, explaining the agency’s philosophy and approach to effectiveness and why it’s important to your business.

    We are flexible about the format of the description, but here are some questions to get your started:

    • What does effectiveness mean to your organisation?
    • What difference does it make to your relationship with clients – to the fundamentals of how you work?
    • How do you embed it in your culture?
    • How do you use it in new business?
    • How are the principles of effectiveness used in briefing, planning, creative development? How do you ensure consistency? Even if some of your recommendations are not in the end adopted by clients, the process and presentation of the principles are a crucial to the submission.
    • What obstacles have been encountered along the way and how have they been overcome?
    • Is there an approach, promotional tool, platform, data set or process you have developed to help bake in effectiveness into the culture of the agency? How is it working?
    • What difference is a focus on effectiveness making to client/agency relationships? And, of course, what difference is it having on the commercial success of your clients’ businesses?
    • Consider the level of the agency’s financial literacy. Those in direct contact with marketers as well as planners and insight teams, would be important to understand. How has it enabled the delivery of commercial objectives set by clients?
    • What difference will this Accreditation make to your business?

    The content from this section will be confidential. Agencies will also be allowed to attach an Appendix, which will not be included in the word count.

    Part Two

    A video submission (up to 3 minutes) which demonstrates your agency’s attitude to effectiveness and its impact.

    Here we are looking for you to bring to life your effectiveness culture – a way of showing your effectiveness culture in action. You may consider including your clients, who may be able to help demonstrate that effectiveness is on your agenda day to day, and/or show how you engage, and educate colleagues and new recruits. It is an opportunity to demonstrate a different narrative of your culture and how the focus on business results is managed and celebrated.

    It is our intention to showcase an edited version of a number of these videos at IPA events and promotional platforms going forward. However, we will, of course, ask permission before using them.

    IPA use of materials

    After submission, the IPA will own copyright on the submission. Our objective is to pull together elements of successful practices for publication, to promote the adoption of a better effectiveness culture industry wide. This will include highlights of video submissions. However, you will be able to indicate which elements of your written submission you wish to redact and not include in any external promotion. We have no wish to negatively affect any competitive advantage that an agency believes they possess.


    Who will assess applications?

    The submissions will be assessed by a panel of leading brand owners, academics, authors and renowned effectiveness specialists, and Chaired by Unilever’s Global Director Marketing Learning & Capabilities, Jo Hagger Royce.

    None of the assessment panel will work for an existing IPA member agency. View full details of the panel of judges.

    How will they assess submissions?

    If a submission is considered by the Assessment Panel to achieve a proficient vision of effectiveness and demonstrate and evidence a consistent capability to deliver it, the agency will be given Accreditation.

    The Assessment Panel will also award a higher level of “Outstanding” for submissions that reflect advanced standards of performance, evidence, consistency and proven capability throughout the organisation.

    Judging criteria

    The criteria against which Accreditation will be assessed is listed below, alongside the broad weighting that will be applied to each.

    It is important to stress that the IPA and the assessment panel are very aware that a successful effectiveness culture is not easy to create. Panellists will not be expecting flawless execution in all the areas below, but focussed effort to drive and achieve commercial return. We do not want to dissuade agencies from creating a submission. Even the creation of a submission itself can deliver huge insight and reward.

    Process: Depth and breadth
    Does the submission evidence an effectiveness culture from pre-briefing to results. Is there evidence that it is in practice day to day? Across all clients? This includes use of data and evidence for decision making (15%)

    People: Depth and breadth
    Does submission show depth and breadth of usage with a cross section of employees – from senior to junior, and from planners to creative to account management. What learning processes are in place for less experienced employees to gain knowledge to the state where it can be used, and decisions made upon that knowledge, rather than just be part of a system of examinations and tests. Does the agency have access to the necessary data analytics, skills and understanding to maximise short and long term objectives – both activation and broader brand building perspectives. (25%)

    Collaboration across agency partners for understanding and learning
    Effective Marketing does not work in a vacuum. Is there evidence that the agency works collaboratively with other agencies and partners (including research partners and comms focussed agencies) for a mutually beneficial outcome? Is there evidence of data sharing where possible, to generate understanding and learning. (10%)

    Challenge mentality
    Most agencies have a spectrum of ‘effectiveness literacy’ among your client base. When data, evidence, or process is not sufficient to maximise the effectiveness process, how much does the agency challenge the client (within the realms of tolerance) to improve the outcome? And not just those clients who already have an existing brand commitment to these processes. These challenges could also include broad approach - e.g. ‘excessive’ focus upon short term performance. What have you found succeeds in these endeavours? (10%)

    Commercial Literacy
    Is there evidence of sufficient financial literacy and analytical skill either within the agency or bought in, to make robust commercial links to effectiveness? (20%)

    Does the agency culture achieve robust and impressive results? Whilst the Accreditation process will not be driven by the results achieved, clearly one of the criteria needs to consider whether the culture is “working” in practice. (15%)

    To what level is the submission convincing in its entirety? Is the evidence strong enough beyond the narrative? If the definition of culture is “It’s just the way we do things round here.” – does the submission enable the assessors to believe that “effectiveness” is the “way things are done”. (5%)

    What happens next?

    If successful, your agency will receive an effectiveness kite-mark and certificate to use in communications. The selection of accredited agencies will be celebrated by the IPA in press and online.

    Once achieved, the Accreditation will last for 2 years. Agencies will then have to reapply in 2023 to retain their status.

    What happens if my agency is unsuccessful?

    Those agencies who put forward a submission and are not awarded Accreditation will receive feedback from the Assessment Panel on which areas did not meet the necessary level and / or additional comments on their submission content. The names of these agencies will be kept confidential.


    Please get in touch if you need any help or more information.

    Alexandra Green

    Alexandra Green, Project Manager, Effectiveness Pillar | 0207 201 8270 | Alexandra.green@ipa.co.uk

    Applications are now closed

    The next accreditation application will open in Spring 2023.

    You will need to prepare a written submission. Please ensure that you have consulted our guide above and taken into account the judging criteria.

    Last updated 28 April 2022