NEW YORK: More than 80% of advertisers say they use data to help them manage agency relationships and they expect the use of such data will grow in the future, according to an ANA survey.

The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) polled 91 marketers, covering a range of seniority, budget and sector, for a report which explored the use of data in agency performance evaluations, tracking of agency hours, copy/creative testing, production costs, and media efficiencies/budgets.

This found widespread enthusiasm for the practice which has delivered very positive results, especially in the area of managing media budgets.

"Data helps build better relationships between the client and agency, helping both parties focus on outcomes," said ANA Group EVP Bill Duggan. "And at a time where there are transparency issues in the industry, the use of data enhances trust."

Not only did 80% of respondents indicate that they "often or always" use data to manage agency relationships, 84% saw such use growing in their organisation, with none seeing it decline.

Most said it delivered strong outcomes, including improved agency efficiencies (90%), a better overall client/agency relationship (82%) and improved internal efficiencies in their own organisations (78%).

The survey showed that data was most important and most heavily used in managing media and billing/budgets, and least important and least used in the areas of creative and production.

Media-related metrics accounted for seven of the ten highest-rated metrics for importance, with efficiency of media buys, delivery of total campaign audience goals and media quality assessment scoring most highly.

While it is understandable that data use was regarded as being most critical in media, the ANA suggested clients should think about paying more attention to the processes for briefing and copy approvals, and use data to track progress, as the implications of not doing so included increased rework and potentially increased agency fees.

"Data enhances the conversations between clients and agencies, providing a solid foundation for mutual collaboration," said Richard Benyon, CEO of Decideware, the software-as-a-service company that supported the survey.

"As the legendary statistician W. Edwards Deming once said, 'Without data you're just another person with an opinion'."

Data sourced from ANA; additional content by Warc staff