Advertisers View Media As 'Complex Headache'

A new ID Comms report finds the media agency-advertiser relationship is worse than it was two years ago. And it wasn’t so terrific back then, either.

Client-side media and marketing professionals are more likely to view media as a cost center to their businesses and a “complex headache,” rather than as an investment for growth, per the report. They are also more likely to view their media agency as a commodity supplier and not a strategic partner.

Clients dealing directly with media shops are also likely to have the lowest opinion of agency expertise.

On a scale of 1 to 5 (where 1 is unacceptable, 3 meets expectations and 5 is outstanding), media agencies were rated below average by client-side media professionals on key competencies, such as identifying relevant data-fueled insights (2.45), providing neutral and objective planning recommendations (2.35), and integrating owned, earned and paid media (2.12). In each case scores were higher two years ago.



“As the media landscape has grown more complex and fragmented, we find marketers are struggling to implement strategies that challenge the status quo or depart from conventional thinking,” the ID Comms “2019 Media Thinking Report” states. “Most worryingly, we find it is those with the most media expertise who seem to have the bleakest outlook on media. Agencies, meanwhile, are still battling with the perception of being untrustworthy and unable to think about media holistically.”

The good news: Client-side procurement attitudes toward media are changing. In the latest report, procurement professionals were more likely to see media as an opportunity and an investment for growth compared to two years ago. They also provided the highest average scores for media thinking from agencies. 

The results are based on survey responses from 177 marketing, media and procurement professionals representing combined global media investment of more than $20 billion. 

The report also highlights problems with media strategy. Client-side marketing, media and procurement professionals generally rate their companies' efforts unsatisfactory.

The industry by and large agrees that advertisers that take a more strategic and thoughtful approach to media will deliver a stronger marketing performance.

More than three-quarters (79%) of the advertisers surveyed believe they have a clear vision and strategy for media internally. But given the report’s other findings, this suggests advertisers do not feel confident the media strategies they have in place are effective in today’s complex media landscape.

“At a time when the challenge of media has never been greater, it is disappointing to see so many marketing and media professionals are struggling to implement media strategies or forge relationships that deliver long-term growth,” said ID Comms consultant Paul Stringer. “What is positive is that we … could be witnessing the emergence of a new kind of procurement leader, one for whom cost reduction is just one part of a larger set of objectives around driving innovation, ROI and business development.”


2 comments about "Advertisers View Media As 'Complex Headache'".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 18, 2019 at 10:27 a.m.

    Good report, Steve. Sadly, I must agree with most of the findings and observations. Also, I interpret  the words "complex headache" as code words for "boring" and "numbers-driven"---hence boring---which is how many CMOs and brand managers view the media function. What they don't seem to understand is that media, is indeed, becoming more complex and, as a result, offers many new ways to improve their targeting capabilities---which are often being overlooked. Why? Because many agencies feel that it is safer to continue to recommend media to their clients that the latter are accustomed to---or feel "comfortable with". Since few clients bother to learn what media can really do for them, and are woefully ignorant about what is happening in the "complex" media world, this, no doubt, makes them feel uneasy--like they may be missing something important. True, but the solution, dear clients, is to really dig in and learn how your media dollars are spent, what they are delivering for you and what alternative options are available. Only by showing this kind of interest and openness to new ideas will you encourage your agency to do the same for you in return.

  2. Eric Nelson from Dicom Inc., September 19, 2019 at 11:25 a.m.

    Certainly interesting.  I'm curious and I'll speculate a bit, but this may be driven by a combination of a rise in digital only media agencies as well as publisher owned agencies.  While its great to have an agency specialize in say, just social media, it shows in this data that advertisiers are not getting the broad scope of ideas.  If you only work in social media, the answer to every business challenge an advertiser has is going to media.  If you only do search, what else would you reccomend?  As for publisher owned agencies, I often find that after auditing campaign deliveries, the majority of results come from other properties that are also owned by the publisher group.  While there are always claims of "independant thinking," in every case its simply funnelling impressions and dollars to thier own owned properties.  So again leading to more client frustration that new and different ideas simply arent available to them and results may be lacking adding to the headache.

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