More than half (55 per cent) of clients expect to increase their digital spend, while just 11 per cent predict a drop, in the next year.
Where the new budget is being spent is also changing, with digital experiences (eg websites, mobile web) (82 per cent) top of the priority list followed by content development (76 per cent) and digital projects (eg non-marketing related platforms, applications, tools and services) (71 per cent).
These are the findings of a report by SoDA, a digital society for the digital agency and production community. The SoDA Report 2016 found that the new era of confidence was continuing with an incredible 12-point jump year-on-year to more than a quarter (27 per cent) of clients saying they are ‘very innovative’ when it comes to digital marketing. This is expected to have a ripple effect throughout the marketing ecosystem as clients look for new partners for support (50 per cent agency partners, 33 per cent consultancies, 19 per cent innovation consultancies).
The report also revealed that there is a major disconnect between clients and agencies when it comes to expectations and satisfaction.
But, despite that, the agency model will thrive over the next year because the number of clients who plan to take digital in-house has shrunk by more than half year-on-year (13 per cent for 2016, 27 per cent in 2015).
Contrary to reports of client-agency consolidation, the SoDA Report 2016 found that the number of clients with three or more digital shops on their roster also grew 42 per cent year on year.
Further revelations include discrepancies on why agencies are fired, the satisfaction of their work, and whether clients’ organisational structures hinder or facilitate innovation.
The study was conducted in association with Forrester Research, which polled 629 marketers who are collectively responsible for more than £4.16bn in global annual spend.
Market or marketing research was the number one most valued skill in clients’ relationship with their agencies. Curiously this was the least valued skill on the study’s list in 2015. The least valued this year is strategic leadership and marketing creativity, which adds weight to the idea that clients are prioritising execution over big ideas when it comes to agency relationships.
SoDA report editor Chris Buettner says: “There’s a positive outlook for agencies and clients. With an eight-point increase in the number of marketers predicting spend increases, a trend toward digital agency specialisation – despite recent media reports suggesting large-scale agency consolidation – and an acute need for innovation on the client side that is leading to more marketer-agency collaboration, the future is bright for forward-thinking digital shops.
“However, agencies still have a long way to go to align with clients around issues such as client priorities, causal factors involved in client-agency ‘break-ups’, and what needs to be done to improve lacklustre client satisfaction levels.”