Digital media giants fall short

11 November 2010

LONDON: Perceptions of major digital media owners like Facebook and News International are declining with UK advertising agencies.

Industry body the IPA surveyed 212 digital planners, strategists and buyers, tracking opinions covering 13 attributes applicable to the organisations they did business with.

Specific Media retained top spot measured against a similar study earlier this year, although the number of people providing a positive appraisal fell slightly from 82.2% to 79.5%.

Adconion claimed second having posted an 11% uptick to 77.8%, leading Ad-2-One and Unanimis, both generating scores of over 60%.

The website for TV station Channe4 experienced a 5% surge and secured 64.4%, AOL climbed 6% to reach 63%, while newspaper the Daily Telegraph's internet arm yielded a 9.3% rise to 59.8%.

In contrast, Microsoft Advertising delivered a 12% slide, on 55.9%, and Facebook's totals dropped by more than 6%, coming in at 53.3%.

Specific Media and Adconion were the best-performing operators when it came to fostering a "real sense of agency/media owner partnership", understanding objectives and responding to client briefs.

Equally, these firms were lauded for offering good mid- and post-campaign support, and typically registered above-average results on the other metrics assessed.

Meanwhile, Microsoft Advertising achieved a rating of approximately 45% for supplying "innovative, creative solutions".

It was tied with Google's display division, which included output on video-sharing portal YouTube, and enjoyed a leap nearing 15%. and Yahoo also performed strongly, and AOL, the online hub of broadcast network ITV and all saw improvements.

Less favourably, News International, Facebook, newspaper the Guardian and magazine publisher Bauer witnessed contractions of more than 5%.

The Daily Telegraph, Guardian and Bauer were praised for demonstrating a sound grasp of how to exploit cross-media opportunities, with ITV gaining ground.

Overall, Adconion, Unanimis, AOL Advertising,, IPC Media, Sky Digital Media and recorded their highest figures during the last two years.

Elsewhere, Microsoft Advertising endured declines surpassing 5% in 11 of the 13 areas monitored, thus exiting the top ten having held third position in March 2010.

Facebook, Bauer and The Guardian received their lowest approval levels in the last four surveys, with the latter member of this group delivering the largest decrease among the featured companies across the last two years.

News International also suffered a drop in perceptions, indicating that size often does not equate to quality in the minds of agencies.

"Comparing the latest results to those of the last two years, it's pretty clear complacency has crept into the operations of some previously high scoring media owners," said Nigel Gwilliam, digital consultant at the IPA.

"It's equally evident a number of media owners who have struggled in the past are seeing the time and effort invested in service paying dividends."

Data sourced from IPA; additional content by Warc staff