WFA: Agency Relationships Hampered By Bad Briefs, Other Miscommunications

The World Federation of Advertisers is out with a new report that concludes marketers need a smarter approach to agency management if they want more productive and longer-lasting relationships.

The report is based on findings from a survey of 42 marketing executives that collectively spend $50 billion annually on global advertising. The WFA enlisted Observatory International to help compile the report.

Among the findings: Respondents were far more likely to rate the work of their agencies as “excellent” or “very good” if the work was the product of a retainer relationship versus project work.

The report also found that marketers hobble their relationships to some extent by poorly communicating expectations on the scope of agreed-upon work. Better briefing is key to a strong relationship, yet just 17% of those survey believed they were “very good” at briefing agencies on desired output.

Some 43% admitted they are merely adequate, poor or very poor at the briefing process. Which is actually kind of shocking when you think about it. I mean if marketers have a strong suit, it should be communicating, right? Not a single respondent felt they were “excellent” at providing briefs.



The report recommends companies create a common platform for brief development and those involved in the briefing process be trained to develop briefs properly.

Yes, it definitely sounds like training is in order, given those survey results.

Another problem area, per the report, is balancing scope of work with budget. In many cases, scope of work is ill-defined by clients. While 45% of respondents say they supply their agencies with "reasonably" detailed scope of work, only 24% provide a general overview of key initiatives.

While most of those surveyed said they collaborate with procurement people in developing fee proposals for agencies, that collaboration isn’t always effective. What would help, per the report, is for client marketing teams to clearly tell procurement teams the “difference between value and cost.”

Relationships with agencies would also benefit from strong evaluation systems. While most marketers have some sort of agency evaluation system in place, they are often lacking. “All should have a universal framework in place and ensure their agencies have” a clear understanding of how they’re being evaluated.

More on the report can be found here.

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