A new study from media and marketing consultant ID Comms has found that media agencies and advertisers are all aligned around the idea that better talent management will help them deliver more effective, powerful marketing.
But the two sides were split on the quality of each other’s talent and who should take the lead in some of the new areas that are increasingly driving media thinking, notably around data management, programmatic buying and mobile marketing.
The results are based on 130 responses from marketing, media and procurement specialists with a range of global, regional and local market responsibilities. Client-side respondents represented brands with total global advertising spend of approximately $20 billion, while media agency participants came from the six major holding company groups as well as key independents from both the U.S. and Europe.
Media agencies are broadly critical of the current state of media talent at advertisers, with 70% of agency respondents disagreeing with the statement that the existing advertiser media talent was able to meet client needs.
Advertisers were more bullish, with 53% thinking that such talent met their current needs, although 29% acknowledged that there was work to do internally.
There was greater agreement when it came to current media agency talent, although a third of clients were skeptical about its ability to meet their needs.
Media agency talent’s ability to evolve over the next two or three years was also viewed largely positively, with 54% of agencies and 34% of advertisers indicating they had high-to-very-high confidence this would be the case.
By contrast, media agencies were highly skeptical about the ability of advertiser talent to meet the challenges of the next few years, with only 16% expressing high or very high confidence. Marketers were more bullish, with 34% expressing a vote of confidence in their colleagues.
Both advertisers and their agencies cited quality of media agency talent as their key concern, with 30% of advertisers claiming this was an issue, recognition of their dependence on media agencies.
Looking beyond media agency talent, priorities also differ. Advertisers rank their own internal structures and capabilities as the next most important areas for talent management, but media agencies indicate choice of remuneration models and the challenge of motivating talent as their top areas of concern — areas that were least likely to be cited by clients.
The biggest divide, however, was around who would develop future talent in key areas such as social. While there was broad alignment between client and agency respondents on where responsibility lies in the areas of Insight (Shared), Social (Shared) and E-commerce (Client/Internal), that was not the case in other areas.
Nearly half [48%] of advertiser respondents believed they should be responsible for data talent, but most [58%] agencies believe this should be a shared responsibility.
A greater number of agency respondents also want to become talent centers for Mobile [53%], Content [46%] and Programmatic [54%] but in all three areas a significant number of clients want to share responsibility — scoring 41%, 50% and 50%respectively.
Fifty-seven percent of advertisers did recognize that they needed help in media planning, but overall they were reluctant to divest total responsibility in developing capabilities, preferring to maintain internal control or share the task with their external agencies.
“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,” stated Tom Denford, chief strategy officer at ID Comms. “Agencies have doubts over the quality of advertisers’ media capabilities,” Denford added. “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 on their own internal media talent.”
That equates to a lack of knowledge, which Denford asserted “not only affects their ability to use media to drive business growth but also lies at the heart of many of the trust and transparency issues that we highlighted in our last survey. The bottom line is that without better in-house media talent many marketers have little leverage in trying to develop a more transparent relationship with their agency.”
Transparency — or the lack of it — has been an ongoing and divisive issue between agencies and clients, exacerbated most recently by a report commissioned by the Association of National Advertisers that concluded among other things rebates paid to media agencies by media sellers was an ongoing part of doing business in the U.S. — often without client awareness — despite denials from the agency community.