Partners over the long run: how to build an advertiser-agency relationship with staying power

Kathleen Hunter

Q. Has the ANA done any research on the average length of a client-agency relationship? We are a large packaged goods company in need of understanding the key factors that contribute to the longevity of a relationship.

A. In the recent Inside Advertiser and Agency Relationships survey conducted by the ANA, it was found that the type of industry, size of advertiser, and type of agency (specialist vs. full service) all have an effect on the longevity of ad agency accounts. For your particular situation (a large packaged goods company), the research concluded that large and medium-size advertisers were far more likely than small advertisers to have established relationships of five or more years (49 percent and 46 percent, respectively, vs. 25 percent), as show in this table. This compares to slightly more than half of agencies with medium- or large-size advertisers (54 percent and 51 percent, respectively). Medium-size and large agencies were about equally likely to have initial relationships of up to three years (40 percent and 36 percent, respectively). Similarly, they had comparable relationship longevity for transitional relationships of three to five years (14 percent and 15 percent, respectively). Additionally, established relationships of five or more years were most likely for durables industry advertisers (58 percent), followed by packaged goods advertisers (49 percent). Service and miscellaneous industry advertisers were least likely to have established relationships with their clients (39 percent and 37 percent, respectively).