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STRATA Survey Finds Advertising Agency Confidence Dips Amid Budget Decline

September 15th, 2016 | Read more articles from 2016 or Visit the News Archive
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Originally Appearing at: All Access Media Group

A recent second quarter survey of advertising agencies conducted by STRATA found that agency budgets and hiring remain flat as they see “looming headwinds.” Agencies report that almost half (49%) of clients are making “considerable” or “minor” budget cuts, while 31% of budgets will remain flat. A quarter of agencies say business will decrease in the second half of the year, the highest percentage seen in the survey since the first quarter of 2013. Reflecting budget concerns, only 33% of agencies report they are hiring new staff, a 21% decrease from last quarter, while 56% will keep staff levels steady. However, the percentage of agencies anticipating the need to reduce staff rose by 84% compared to the prior quarter, a 131% increase when compared to the 2nd quarter of 2015.

Concerns over client spend spiked by 82% as compared to the same time last year, as 20% of agencies listed it as their biggest challenge this quarter. The leading concern for a majority of agencies (26%) was attracting clients, followed by media mix (21%).

Despite trepidations over the advertising economy, social media ad spend has increased, while the gap widened between TWITTER’s utilization against its peers. The percentage of agencies spending less than 5% of their budgets on social media dropped to the lowest amount in the history of the STRATA survey to 27% of agencies. In total, 69% of agencies are devoting between 6-25% of their budgets on paid social.

TWITTER remains in fourth place in the survey for the second straight quarter, as 49% of agencies are using the platform in their ad campaign, a 13% drop from last quarter. INSTAGRAM fell 10%, but has the interest of 57% of agencies to remain in third place, following YOUTUBE (78%) and FACEBOOK (97%).

“It is somewhat surprising to see this level of pessimism among ad agencies as we head into the heart of the presidential election and holiday shopping season,” said STRATA VP/Revenue JUDD RUBIN. “A bright spot is the continued growth of social media ad spend, which may be partly due to both continued strides in that space and the fact that agencies are looking for more affordable ways to spend their clients’ budgets.”

Programmatic ad buying is capturing a larger share of ad spend as 12% of agencies plan on executing 40-60% of their buying programmatically, a 90% increase from a year ago. Another 28% of agencies intend to carry out between 10-20% of business programmatically.

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