In recent surveys, advertisers and agencies expressed concerns with agency talent and the ability of current talent to evolve with the changing marketplace.
Advertisers and media agencies agree that current talent might not cut it, but they disagree as to whose expertise is failing and whether it should be the advertiser or the agency that should lead the development of the capabilities that are likely to be most important in the changing ad environment, according to a new study from ID Comms, a marketing and media consulting firm.
A significant concern of both advertisers and agencies is summed up by one Agency respondent in the report, “Teams internally and externally are becoming leaner. Clients and agencies are getting stretched.” The new advertising environment is challenging as teams shrink, and companies find it harder to connect with consumers.
The study found that both agencies and advertisers are planning to develop talent in data, social, programmatic, content, and mobile but disagree as to whether the client or the agency should lead on these initiatives.
The company surveyed 140 marketing, media, and procurement professionals who manage global, regional, and local campaigns. Two-thirds of the respondents were based in Europe with a quarter coming from the U.S. On the media agency side, all six of the major holding groups were represented as were some essential independent players, and on the client-side, brands making up $20 billion of the global advertising spend were included.
“Our talent report identifies agreement between advertisers and agencies on how critical media talent is to future success, but also identifies clear splits between the two sides of the talent equation,” Tom Denford, chief strategy officer at ID Comms, told MediaPost. “Agencies have doubts over the quality of advertisers’ media capabilities. What the report underlines, however, is how much advertisers still rely on agency talent to deliver on their media goals, perhaps reflecting that advertisers have not invested enough in their own internal media talent.”
The danger of advertisers failing to develop internal media talent was highlighted by a recent report from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) that alleged many media agencies and media companies have been engaging in “non-transparent” business practices including rebates and kickbacks. The report says this is an industry-wide problem and often systematic within agencies not just caused by a few “bad apples.”
The ID Comms study and the ANA report both come amidst a turbulent time for advertisers and agencies. Another report earlier this month highlighted the general dissatisfaction clients have with agencies, and more importantly, showed that there is a growing disconnect between advertiser and agency as to why their relationships haven’t been working out.
Looking at the ID Comms study, there are some important takeaways for advertisers and agencies. The top concern for both agencies and advertisers is the quality of agency talent. Though both groups expressed dissatisfaction, advertisers showed more interest over agency talent than agency insiders.
Part of this may be a compensation issue, as one advertiser-side media specialist explained in the report, “Pressure for low-cost media agency compensation has resulted in a larger dependency on very junior (cheap) media planner/buyers.”
Another major area of concern is with advertisers’ internal media capabilities. Both advertisers and agencies expressed frustration with client-side media capacity. The ANA allegations certainly highlight this and many advertisers plan to develop their internal media abilities, even as agencies say they would like to take the lead in media development.
As traditional forms of advertising have become less impactful and more accessible to avoid, both brands and agencies are looking for new ways to connect with consumers. For many, this includes a push towards digital, native advertising, and sponsored content, and it requires a new set of skills.
Agencies need to demonstrate their trust and capability if they want to attract advertisers, and advertisers need to focus their internal development on areas that will complement and not compete with agencies if they’re going to get the most out of their media agencies.