Marketing Industry Survey Reports—Clients and Agencies May Not Be On the Same Page

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James T. Berger
Senior Marketing Writer

Published February 23, 2018

There appears to be a significant disconnect between the needs of advertising agencies and their clients, according to a survey of 200 marketing agency executives and senior-level marketers conducted by Cincinnati, OH based RSW/US.

Clients growing and expanding their in-house agencies was among the “troubling trends” uncovered in the survey. Another problem area expressed by agency executives was “a decline in commitment from their clients to their partnership, and a lack of understanding of the value they offer as an agency partner.”

RSW/US is a 40-person full-service business development focusing on the marketing services industry. Its data base includes 10,000 marketing service companies in the United States and Canada ranging in size from $1 million to $500 million in capitalized billings. The survey sample came from RSW/US’s data base of 100,000 marketing decision makers.

Marketing executives on the client side also expressed “troubling trends.”  According to the report: the most common theme expressed by the clients was that “industry changes demand a change in the way agencies partner with their clients and a perceived reluctance of agencies to adapt their business model to the new environment.

In-House Agency Growth

The growth of clients cultivating in-house agencies, often resulting in weakened loyalty and trust with outside sources, causes agencies up for hire to have major concerns. The reason lies with agency belief that clients undervalue agency creative contribution to the marketing effort.  Agencies also question clients putting “too much focus on short-term success rather than longer-term goals such as building market share.”  Agencies also complain that too much of the client focus is placed on tactics instead of “having a well-articulated and insightful strategy.”

Agencies also complain about client budget scrutiny. “Budgets are being scrutinized to the penny, and often reactionary decisions based on short-term results, instead of taking the long view, and doing longer-term cohesive patient marketing plans.

Yet another troubling trend is the diffusion of marketing executions due to increased project work, and the use of multiple agencies.

Other Findings

Following are other survey findings:

  • Both clients and their agencies reported plans to invest in their businesses.
  • More than two-thirds of marketers indicated plans to increase spending for advertising and other marketing services.
  • Continued growth anticipated in digital, mobile and social media is anticipated.
  • Both agencies and clients believe the new Trump Administration will tend to have a positive effect on their businesses. Forty-two percent of agencies and 36 percent of marketers believe the Trump Administration will have a positive effect.  Nineteen percent of agencies and 23 percent of clients believe the Trump Administration will have a negative effect and 39 percent of agencies and 40 percent of clients believe the Trump Administration will have no effect.

The 40-page report can be obtained FREE at


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About The Author

James T. Berger headshot
James T. Berger, Senior Marketing Writer of The Wiglaf Journal, through his Northbrook-based firm, James T. Berger/Market Strategies, offers a broad range of marketing communications, research and strategic planning consulting services. In addition, he provides expert services to intellectual property attorneys in the area of trademark infringement litigation. An adjunct professor of marketing at Roosevelt University, he previously has taught at Northwestern University, DePaul University, University of Illinois at Chicago and The Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He holds degrees from the University of Michigan (BA), Northwestern University (MS) and the University of Chicago (MBA). Berger is an often-published free lance business writer who has developed more than 100 published articles in the last eight years. For more information, visit or telephone him at (847) 328-9633.