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The Mad Clientist

Technology Is Not Killing Advertising. Agencies Are.

By September 21, 2015April 16th, 2020No Comments

It’s easy for agencies to point to the avalanche of all things digital as destroying the dynamic between clients and advertising agencies. In-depth research with over 150 CMOs reveals the digital world isn’t ruining these relationships—agencies are.

Agencies have long been subject to—and forced to adapt to—the preferences of consumers and clients. Years ago, the major shift was from marketing products to marketing brands. Then there was the focus on building brand engagement instead of brand reach. And now in a technology-driven world, the newest adaptation is to span multiple platforms while integrating marketing messages. So why does it seem as though the latest movement towards all things digital is more threatening to the agency-client relationship than previous market disruptions?

Two words: client service.

Agencies React to the Wrong Trend

Agencies are quickly building out (or acquiring) the traditional and digital capabilities needed to tackle every client need—except the most important one: serving the client better than anyone else.

Only 29.3% of Fortune 1000 CMOs recommending their agency of record. Those who don’t point to poor client service as the main source of discontent with their advertising agencies.

The AOR still is a valuable relationship at the core of a company’s marketing brigade. CMOs invest substantial time and energy in relationships with their AORs. In return, CMOs expect the AOR to anticipate needs and help reach the company’s primary business objectives. AORs unable to deliver are quickly replaced.

Business development is expensive and time consuming, yet agencies accept agency churn as inevitable and focus energy on winning clients instead of retaining them.

Client service is the real differentiator. CMOs can find creativity. They can’t find client service. Once they find client service, agency churn stops.

It is up to agencies to break the cycle of churn and move into the position of business partner instead of service vendor.


Overcome agency churn, cultivate the ideal client mix, and win—and maintain—the AOR position with the new BTI Client Service A-Team: CMOs Rank Digital and Traditional Agencies. 

Order now and access CMO rankings of advertising agencies across 17 metrics, industry data for both digital and traditional agencies and much more.

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