Both media agencies and advertisers agree that a close and trusted relationship helps deliver stronger marketing performance, but few advertisers believe that such a rapport currently exists.

These findings emerged from a new study from management consultancy ID Comms, the 2018 Global Media Transparency Survey, based on responses from 232 marketing, media and procurement professionals around the world.

In 2016, when ID Comms last carried out this survey, 76% of respondents agreed on the importance of a trusted relationship between the two parties, a figure which rose to 80% in 2018 – indicating the value placed on such links.

At the same time, however, the survey reported that just 10% of advertisers rated levels of trust with their agency partners as ‘high’ or ‘very high’.

More worryingly, the proportion who believed that trust is low had increased from 29% to 40%, while the percentage believing it is average fell by 12%.

Susy Pyzer-Knapp, a consultant at ID Comms, described the findings as “disappointing”, not least since the 2016 survey was carried out at a time when trust was particularly low: transparency was in the spotlight and media rebates were investigated by the ANA in the US. (Read WARC’s report: The rebates debate: Are broken client–agency relationships to blame?)

One might have expected trust to have improved since then as agencies responded to the new demands placed on them by advertisers keen to exert greater control over the investment of their media budgets.

It seems this is taking longer than expected but it is coming: the study noted a 20% increase in the number of agencies and advertisers who expect trust to increase ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ over the coming 12 months.

Over 80% of advertisers and 75% of agency respondents rated transparency as having ‘high’ or ‘very high’ influence over trust issues of advertiser-agency relationships; it was notable that number of agency respondents espousing the impact of transparency had tripled since 2016, reaching 35% of respondents.

Transparency covers a number of areas, with money-related matters – including rebates, remuneration and trading with media vendors – uppermost in the minds of respondents, but how an agency manages client data and uses it for decision making has taken on a new importance.

Sourced from ID Comms; additional content by WARC staff