Agencies, You're on Notice: Your Clients Are Likely Prepping for Reviews in the Coming Year, Survey Finds

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Nearly two-thirds of leading U.S. advertisers are planning for creative agency reviews in the next year, according to a new report.

There's cause for concern at other types of agencies as well. The outlook is not much brighter for other disciplines, according to a new report from Advertiser Perception. While 66% of advertisers plan creative agency reviews, 65% plan to review search agencies, 64% will review media agencies and 61% are ready to review digital agencies.

"We were fairly surprised at the number," said Ken Pearl, co-founder and CEO of Advertiser Perceptions, which bills itself as a business intelligence firm that measures what advertisers think about marketing and media. "The data speaks for itself."

With this study, Advertiser Perceptions has started to track what marketers think about agencies they work with and those they are familiar with. The report is based on responses, mostly delivered online, from more than 420 marketers. The respondents include people representing about 90% of the top 100 U.S. advertisers at the company level and 118 companies in all. (Multiple brands within one parent company, for example, may have been interviewed, with their findings grouped together at the company level.)

When asked whether they agree or disagree with the statement "the industry is changing so fast now, it's unclear how agencies will be viable in the future," 48% indicated they mostly or strongly agreed. That thought was most pronounced at or above the VP level, Advertiser Perceptions said.

With cost and transparency a big topic, of course Advertiser Perceptions wanted to see what advertisers had to say. It found that 48% of advertisers claimed their agencies were not open and transparent on costs, and 34% said they were losing trust in their agencies as a result.

It was not all about bashing the agencies. Advertisers did place some blame on themselves as well. A total of 48% said their companies do not give agencies meaningful key performance indicators (KPIs) that could help them be successful. And 40% said they do not share sales data with agencies.

Mr. Pearl said he plans for his company to conduct the study every six months. Agencies will be able to review the findings, without seeing company names, to get a broad picture of what current clients think of the agency and why, as well as what people who are not clients but are familiar with it have to say.

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