Clients assess their agencies

 |  By: Steve Johnson In: Agency Management

The ISBA (Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) and ARC (The Advertising Research Consortium) have just released a report called Evaluating Creative Agencies – Relationships & Performance.

It deals at length with issues such as client perceptions of agency performance by size of agency, size of expenditure, length of relationship and whether the work is UK-based or international.

In an attempt to summarise the 150-page report in one graphic, we have chosen this one:


It pulls together client ratings of all the types and sizes of agency into one graph. The 15 key abbreviations are:

KPI1 Agency contribution to strong marketplace results

KPI2 Agency contribution to client brand standing

KPI3 Agency creativity in ideas and content

KPI4 Agency value for money

KPI5 Agency service

Agency and account management

Knowledge & analysis: contribution to strategy



IMC Teamwork, integration


Channel & media neutrality

Finance: Cost consciousness, transparency and accurate billing



The good news is that these come top:

        • Trust
        • Contribution to brand
        • Contributions to marketplace results
        • Creativity in ideas and content

The bad news is that these come bottom:

        • Agency value for money
        • The finance issues of cost consciousness, transparency and accurate billing

The authors say:

“If there is one area of the agency’s performance where client perception has worsened, then it is agency finance. On both agency cost control and agency transparency, fewer clients are now satisfied.”

“Agencies are not so good at efficiency of administration.”

“On matters of finance there could be more effort to achieving both efficiencies and a greater transparency.”

If you’re a small or medium-sized agency, take cheer.

“Besides the strategic contribution (and the best score on production) there’s little to commend the largest agencies – at least in the eyes of our client respondents. A client gets better service and agility from a small agency and a better ideas function from a medium-sized agency.”

“In summary, a great agency would combine the service, commitment to teamwork, agility and value for money from a small agency, the ideas function (creative intelligence, data interpretation, insights…) of a medium-sized agency and the strategic power to contribute to client brand standing of the largest agencies.”

So there you have it. Creative agencies take note. If you combine all the best traits of all the agencies out there, then you're perfect. Do let us know when you achieve it...

Having said that, if your clients are anything like those in this sample, your cost control, efficiency and transparency are by far your most vulnerable areas. And that's the opinion of clients, no less. Want to fix that? Let's talk.