NEW YORK: Advertising agencies in the US are becoming more optimistic about their new business prospects, according to a study.

RSW/US, the specialist consultancy, polled 101 marketing executives and 168 agency principals, and found 17.5% of the latter group thought it was easier to achieve this goal than in 2011. Some 44.8% expected the situation to improve in 2013.

Another 47.6% of agencies said the level of difficulty this year was the same as 2011, and only 34.6% of agreed it was harder to win accounts than last year.

This matched the score from 2011, but had fallen from 48% in 2010 and 2009, and 51% in 2008. "We suspect this ... has something to do with the high degree of media fragmentation opening up more opportunities," the study said.

The tools perceived as effectively generating new business included referrals on 59%, networking and securing additional duties from existing clients on 57.4%, and presentations on 24.6%.

Currently, digital briefs are the most common type of responsibilities up for grabs, on 76.3%, beating social media chores on 52.6%, traditional media on 46.1% and media planning or buying on 28.3%.

Aside from referrals, a 58.3% share of clients stated that emails from agencies were the most common way they learned about new shops, followed by traditional mail on 49% and phone calls on 46.9% .

This figure fell to 35.4% for industry events, while social media recorded just 15.6% on this metric, and webinars registered an even more modest 11.5%.

In discussing their preferred method of hearing from agencies seeking to promote their services, a 76.8% majority of the client-side sample pointed to email, ahead of posted material on 36.8%.

The phone and conferences both logged 23.2%, trumping LinkedIn on 17.9%, trade shows with 10.5%, the 3.2% yielded by Facebook and Twitter's return of 1.1%.

Elsewhere, a 73.4% of marketing decision makers reported that agencies typically spoke "mainly about themselves" on first contact, whereas 26.6% largely sought to gain insights about the potential client.

In all, 23.2% of clients awarded agencies eight points or more out of ten for putting their best effort in across every aspect of the review process, and 62.8% awarded them five to seven points.

Data sourced from RSW/US; additional content by Warc staff