Nancy Hill, who served nine years as president and CEO of the agency trade group the 4A's, will step down next year, the group said Wednesday. Read the release.
The 4A’s board of directors, led by Horizon Media head honcho Bill Koenigsberg, will search for her replacement and “ensure a smooth transition” by June 2017.
Hill wrote to AdExchanger that the move had been planned for a very long time: “When I took the job, I said five to seven years, max. It will end up being nine.”
During her tenure, she focused on modernizing the 4A’s stance around issues ranging from online privacy to diversity in hiring. Her most recent challenge however is facing down the controversy around agency transparency.
Indeed, the announcement comes during a hectic time for the 4A’s. Following 2015’s round of agency contract reviews – which put about $26 billion in ad spend up for review – the agency world was buffeted by accusations of nontransparent practices, culminating in a controversial 62-page report by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the investigative firm K2.
The 4A’s criticized the report for being “anonymous, inconclusive and one-sided.” Speaking at an event hosted last month by Rubicon Project at the Cannes Lions festival, Hill noted that the report’s anonymity undermined the ability for the large holding companies to uproot any bad behavior.
She added that while large holding company agencies and their multinational clients have an entente, she was particularly worried for the independent agencies.
“What is disturbing to me is that there are many mid-sized agencies buying media, and [they] are getting a lot of scrutiny from clients who are less sophisticated and don’t know what [the ANA’s report] means,” Hill said at Cannes. “And now they’re talking about doing audits.”
The debate will likely continue after Hill departs.
Following her tenure, she will operate as a consultant and spend time teaching and volunteering in Ecuador. Prior to her appointment at the 4A’s, Hill was an agency vet, having worked at independent agency Doner as well as at agencies within holding companies Omnicom and IPG.