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Media planners seek client insights

News, 22 January 2016

NEW YORK: Media planners believe that their relationships with clients are often weakened by brands' failure to share valuable information, according to a new study.

"The agency–client relationship is like a marriage: without nurturing, it falls apart," write Jun Heo (Louisiana State University) and John C. Sutherland (University of Florida) in the 2015–2016 winter edition of the Journal of Advertising Research (JAR).

In Why Marketers Should Be More Transparent with the Ad Agencies They Hire: Media Planners Say Their Relationships with Clients Suffer from Gaps in Marketers' Information, the authors contend that agency/client relationships have a much shorter lifespan than they used to.

And when Heo and Sutherland surveyed US media planners to find out why, they discovered, "Marketers need to do a better job communicating with the agencies they hire."

Journal of Advertising Research

Read the full 2015–2016 winter edition of the Journal of Advertising Research and explore the publication's archives – at no charge – until the end of January at the Journal's new website

More specifically, building mutual trust and satisfaction on both sides through "improved transparency should foster a long-term relationship – a more preferable outcome for the agency and the client".

Digging deeper into their findings, "the survey provided evidence that media planners do not receive marketing information they value as often as they would like.

"The largest difference between what media planners value and how often they receive the information was marketers' imminent concerns – challenges and concerns in the marketplace, including criteria for measuring success of the campaign, marketing objectives, and key marketing challenges.

"Conversely, the smallest gap was for budget information."

Heo and Sutherland further noted, "Clients seem to share information that is obvious, which includes media budget and timing, yet they leave out the more strategic information such as marketing objectives, other marketing communication activities, and marketing challenges.

"Although media planners today have become proactive in solving marketing problems and tend to think of themselves as marketing partners rather than mere 'behind-scene' scientists, without the proper information they are hindered in reaching their desired performance levels."

And, in a number of ways, these problems tend to become self-renewing: "Because of shortened relationship lengths, many clients tend to think of their agencies as mere short-term vendors, rather than long-term business partners; thus, they likely are reluctant to share critical marketing information with their agencies.

"Agency staffers may perform better when they are willing to work together with the client as a partner than when they are treated as a vendor."

Data sourced from Journal of Advertising Research; additional content by Warc staff