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Understaffed agencies frustrate clients

News, 02 June 2016

GLOBAL: Agencies are frustrated by clients' changes of management and focus on costs, while more and more clients are worrying about understaffing and a lack of experience at agencies, according to new research.

The 2016 SoDA Report, from the global society for digital marketing innovators, was based on a worldwide survey of 629 senior decision makers in advertisers and agencies, 30% of whom controlled budgets in excess of $50m.

This found that 56% of agencies believed that a change in management was the reason they were fired – up from 33% in 2015 – but the single biggest reason cited by clients was pricing or value (37%).

Other factors mentioned by clients included: unhappy with creative (24%); mismatched agency size/ability (24%); unhappy with project management/account management (22%); unhappy with strategy (21%); and understaffed/under-experienced (21%).

The figure for the last of these represented a significant rise on 2015, when only 6% of clients listed understaffing or inexperience as a reason for terminating a relationship.

"We expect inexperience to be an increasingly prevalent causal factor in agency-client relationships going south, as the percentage of agencies who indicated they are not providing any training to their staff almost tripled in 2016, growing from 5% to 14%," the report stated.

Client satisfaction levels with agencies across key digital skill sets are average at best, the report added, as it advised agencies to build stronger practices around specific areas rather than try to do a little bit of everything.

The study further noted that the client/agency dynamic "has hit a roadblock", as the proportion of agencies reporting relationship improvements had fallen from 70% to 53% over the past year.

It attributed this development to an increasingly competitive landscape, with clients working across multiple agencies and under pressure to not only come up with successful marketing campaigns, but to also "out-innovate" their rivals.

Data sourced from The Soda Report; additional content by Warc staff