Digital Challenges, But Traditional Still Tops With Agencies

Bolstered by political advertising, TV attracted the most ad dollars in early 2012,  But Social is starting to steal the spotlight from Online Display, as Digital has clearly matured in campaigns.

According to a new Strata quarterly survey of leading agencies, the advertising economy is positive and appears to be back to a new normal. The study found that 64% of respondents said their customers' approach to ad planning is the same as last year (the most since the start of the survey). The advertising industry was consistently steady in the first quarter, with 51% reporting growth will be the same as the last half of 2011.

The survey found that only 11% of agencies see their business decreasing, which is the lowest percentage since the start of the survey. A third of the agencies surveyed plan to hire staff and only 20% said their clients are making cuts to planning, which is the least amount since 2008. The top agency concern is client attraction.

The report shows that TV is the top choice, according to 54% of agency respondents. Overall, 43% of agencies reported they would compete for ad space with political advertisers as opposed to going to an alternative medium. 86% say that they will have either the same or more advertising spend on political vs. the previous 2010election year (51% say the same as 2010, while 35% say more than 2010).

Spot TV showed gains with 26% saying they are more focused on it than a year ago. Time-shifting is a major concern for 64% of the agencies polled (10% are very concerned, 54% are moderately concerned with time-shifting). 

Agency Focus on Media (% of Respondents Focusing More On Media Than A Year Ago; May 2012)


% Focusing More



Spot TV






Source: Strata, May 2012

Focus on print increased 217% over fourth quarter 2011, while radio shows an increase of 31% over first quarter 2011 and focus on OOH increased 65% over fourth quarter 2011.

Digital is firmly the second client choice behind TV with 24% of agencies saying above all else Digital is their top medium, says the report. When comparing Digital to a year ago, 79% are more focused on Digital today (up 12% over the last year). Further breaking down Social within the Digital category:

  • Facebook remains the top choice for ad agencies at 85%
  • YouTube leaped past Twitter for the second spot (45%)

Looking at the larger digital advertising picture, in the next one to three years, 21% of agencies feel they'll have greater spend in Digital than Traditional (though 46% say it will never overtake Traditional):

  • Social (69%) is neck and neck with
  • Online Display (71%), with
  • Search as the third most focused option (65%)


  • iPhones are still the mobile device of choice for advertisers (75%); Android is second at 57%, down 19% since fourth quarter 2011
  • 51% of agencies say that their digital measurement tools are effectively meeting their campaign needs
  • 51% of agencies use more than three mediums when placing a campaign, 24% already use three, while 19% use two

John Shelton, CEO and President of Strata, concludes that “... new challenges as the economy returns to a new normal... new ad choices... causing the environment to become more complex... expect Digital Video to continue to shake things up when planning campaigns in 2012...  56% of respondents noting they will use the medium this year..."

For additional information about the study and Strata, please visit here.


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