How Assembly Added Over $1 Billion in Client Billings After Just 2 Years in Business

Diversity and transparency are key

Over the last year, media accounts have been put up for review left and right. Clients from Procter & Gamble to Coca-Cola put roughly $17.3 billion in annual spend up for review in 2015 and big-name media shops found themselves with new clients and more work. Assembly, a newly formed shop, came out on the other end with some big business as well.

The MDC Partners media agency—which was officially formed in 2014 as a 250-person agency made up of two acquired shops, TargetCast and RJ Palmer—added over $1 billion in client billings in 2015 and 2016 and boasts a 60 percent increase in overall revenue in the last two years. Most recently, the agency added an $800 million chunk of 21st Century Fox's business to its roster, which includes all media planning, search and programmatic buying for the company.

Assembly now operates in five cities within the U.S. including Los Angeles, Detroit, Atlanta, Austin and New York—the location of the agency's headquarters. Plus the shop has grown from roughly 250 people to over 500 in just two years.

Assembly CEO Martin Cass credits its strong and diverse team for helping the agency score great clients and continue its growth. "We have built an extremely strong team. Mostly with people who come from the big holding company shops who are looking for a new, better and different way of managing marketing and media for clients. And it is a diverse group," Cass said.

Outside of pulling in people from diverse work backgrounds, Assembly strives to hire a diverse team of people. At least 50 percent of its management team is female. Most recently, the agency hired Khartoon Weiss as its chief client and marketing officer to join women including chief investment officer Catherine Warburton, chief strategy and research officer Sarah Power and evp, technology, data and digital operations Stella Voutsina, among others.

Another factor that Cass believes has made Assembly so successful in such a short period of time is it's pledge from day one to be completely transparent with clients.

"Our clients put their trust in us. We are building relationships with the understanding that we will invest their marketing dollars with only their interest at heart," Cass recently said in a statement. "Assembly will never arbitrage client money and we operate completely transparently."

The pledge for complete transparency is key for clients at a time when concerns about kickbacks are high. A recent transparency report released by the Association of National Advertisers revealed that a handful of agency executives were aware of pervasive kickbacks and rebates on the media side of the business. Cass noted that his agency works closely with AdFin, a third party company that audits each and every step of the process to build trust with clients.

"Our books are open for audit, and clients can always see the invoice from the media owner and we prevent leakage in the supply chain by using newer and more cost-effective technology," Cass added. "We believe that we should be paid fairly, make a profit and pay our people properly, and we are totally up front about it. Trust seems to be an increasingly rare commodity in client and agency relationships. We aim to earn and keep our clients' faith in us and we believe that total transparency is a critical part of doing that."