LONDON: More than half of client-side marketers in the UK would prefer to work with small advertising agencies, new figures show.

FindGood, the agency search and selection firm, drew on data from 333 executives representing brand owners, and found 32% believed agencies with ten staff of less constituted the ideal partner.

Another 42% took this view for shops boasting between 11 and 35 employees, as did 17% for agencies with headcounts of 36 to 100 people, versus a modest 8% for bigger companies than this.

Some 64% of the sample afforded the same status to owner-managed agencies, a total falling to 26% for independent networks and 10% when discussing international networks.

"Of particular note is that marketers are still saying very clearly they prefer to work with smaller agencies – in an entrepreneurial sector that's good news indeed," said Kimberly Mears, FindGood's managing director.

At present, a 34% share of brand owners "always" use in-house procurement teams during the agency selection process, and 8% anticipated doing so for the first time in 2012.

Just 4% of firms, however, had looked to third parties such as specialist consultants or other similar organisations to aid their decision-making in this area, the analysis added.

Turning to budgets, 37% of the panel expected to post higher expenditure in 2012, while 45% were set to maintain spending levels. Only 11% planned to cut back, and 7% could not say for certain.

"It's very reassuring to see that budgets are once more on the march, suggesting that marketers see investment in marketing activity as the best way of growing sales whilst the economy remains becalmed," said Mears.

The channels receiving greater funding were led by digital, where 41% of companies were due to raise their investment. Social and traditional media hit 40% apiece here, ahead of direct marketing's score of 38%, and the 37% registered by design.

Advertising recorded 35% on this metric, beating sales promotion on 33% and branding on 30%.

Data sourced from FindGood; additional content by Warc staff