CHICAGO: More than half of US advertising agencies expect to see their business grow over the coming year and many anticipate hiring new staff a new survey has found.

A fourth quarter poll of agencies by STRATA, a provider of media buying and selling software, found grounds for industry optimism on several fronts. Not only did 53% of those surveyed think business would improve in 2015, but 45% planned to increase recruitment – the highest figure STRATA had recorded for this metric.

In addition, just over one third (35%) also reported that clients were increasing their budgets.

Some of that money will be channelled into digital advertising: 81% of agencies expressed more interest in this than a year ago. Furthermore, 41% of agencies felt that increased digital ad spend was the biggest change coming to the advertising industry in 2015.

Change notwithstanding, TV remains the medium with the most client focus at 44% compared to 27% for digital.

Joy Baer, STRATA President, observed that the growth in key areas – budgets and digital – combined with a fragmented media landscape were putting pressure on agencies to become more efficient.

"Initiatives like programmatic buying and better support of digital video are paramount for our clients and the industry in 2015," she said.

Indeed, more agencies are planning on using programmatic: 37% reported that they will carry out between 10% and 20% of their ad buys programmatically, up 30% from the third quarter.

But trust remains an issue as just under a quarter (24%) said they trust programmatic buying to properly execute their ad orders, while one-third remained unsure.

The improved ability to reach targeted audiences is the top benefit of programmatic purchasing according to 41% of agencies, while 39% of agencies report the quality of inventory as their greatest concern, closely followed by transparency of inventory sources (34%).

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff