GLOBAL: Global brands are improving their ability to brief for integrated communications but there is more work to be done on alignment, clarity and timing, a new survey has shown.

Conducted by the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) and The Observatory International, the findings were based on responses from 32 multinational clients across 12 sectors with an annual spend of more than US$14bn. Their responses were compared with those of 46 senior agency staff with global and regional roles to provide an agency view of progress.

Just 12% of brands said they now provide separate briefs for each department/agency, down from 24% in 2014, the last time this survey was carried out.

An equal number (44%) of clients were briefing with either a common master brief (including role-specific requirement for each agency) or a single brief for all stakeholders, up from 36% and 40% respectively in 2014.

Agencies, however, reported that too many briefs arrived with specific channels or outputs in mind. While 9% of advertisers admitted to doing it, 59% of agencies said this sometimes happens and 39% say it often occurs.

Perceptions of the quality of briefs were also divided: 73% of clients claimed they included a single-minded proposition and a single view of the customer in their briefs. But 76% of agencies highlighted the sporadic nature (Never/Sometimes) of the inclusion of these critical elements.

Agencies were even more scathing about the lack of a clear, integrated customer journey (93% said sometimes/never) or a single view of the customer and a common insight (82% said sometimes/never).

Timing was another area where disconnect was evident. Clients confidently stated that they briefed all departments/agencies 'at the same time' (71%) yet only 24% of their agency counterparts agreed this happened 'Often or Always'.

Agencies again pointed to the sporadic nature of this approach, with 67% of saying that they were 'sometimes' briefed at the same time as other agencies, whist 9% said this never happens."Ultimately integration doesn't come down to agencies or brands, it comes down to people," observed Robert Dreblow, Global Head of Marketing Services at the WFA.

"Strong client leadership coupled with agency collaboration is what's needed to ensure consistency and improvement in applying these processes," he said.

Data sourced from WFA; additional content by WARC staff