GLOBAL: Nearly three-quarters of major multinationals are reviewing their current agency arrangements, looking at whether they have the right mix of agencies and capabilities in their external partners, new research shows.

The Future of Agency Rosters, a study from the World Federation of Advertisers and strategic partner The Observatory International, was based on responses from 50 multinational marketers representing a total global ad spend in excess of $69bn, including 26 agency representatives.

This found that many clients felt their current roster set up is not working effectively, rating it just 5.7 out of 10, where 10 is fit for purpose. Agencies were similarly unimpressed, scoring roster arrangements at just 5.2 out of 10.

The current dominant model of agency management is “multiple agencies managed individually by marketing” (81%), with “integrated lead agency” (44%) and “network agency with specialisms from same holding company” (39%) coming next.

But many advertisers use a variety of core models across their operations – underlining the complexities of developing fit-for-purpose roster architectures around the globe.

That challenge may become more complex: nearly 60% of advertisers said they were looking to reduce the numbers of agencies on their roster at the same time as just over 50% were seeking to increase the numbers of specialists they use.

But agencies can take heart from the finding that 82% of advertisers do not foresee a world without agencies.

The two sides have much work to do to improve their current relationships, however.

Agencies said that effective collaboration – and the quality of their work – can be hindered by clients’ internal structures (51%), poor quality briefings (49%), approvals and sign off processes (40%), lack of trained client personnel (40%) as well as lack of a clear data strategy (52%).

And while around half of clients accepted that their own internal structures could be hampering an effective roster model, they were critical of agencies’ abilities to deliver ROI measurement across channels to clearly understand the end-to-end consumer journey.

Martech was another area where (84% of) clients believed that agencies are struggling – and agencies (71%) tended to agree.

“Change will be needed on both sides to turn this vision into reality. True partnership will require increased commitment and transparency from both clients and agencies.”

Sourced from WFA; additional content by WARC staff