Media and marketing professionals have a lower opinion of media and media agencies than they did two years ago, according to new research from ID Comms. They are more likely to view media as a "cost to the business and a complex headache" and view their agency as a "commodity supplier" instead of a strategic partner.

Those with the most exposure to media agencies, media professionals, are also likely to have the lowest opinion of agency expertise. Agencies were rated below average (less than three out of five) by media professionals on key competencies such as identifying relevant data-fuelled insight, providing neutral and objective planning recommendations, and integrating owned, earned and paid media.

However, attitudes to media are improving on the procurement front. Procurement professionals are more likely to see media as an exciting opportunity and an investment for growth compared to two years ago, and also provided the highest average scores for media thinking from agencies (2.97 out of 5, up from 2.77 in 2017). This compares with this year’s average scores of 2.68 and 2.49 for marketing and media professionals respectively.

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Inadequate media strategy

More than three-quarters (79%) of the advertisers surveyed agree that they have a clear vision and strategy for media internally, but they do not feel confident that it can cope with today’s media landscape. Client-side marketing, media and procurement professionals all rate themselves below satisfactory in almost all areas of media management (with an average score of 2.56 out of 5) and remain unclear on how to set clear KPIs for media (2.55 out of 5).

Agencies also suffer from poor ratings from advertisers across several areas of media expertise. They received the worst ratings for their ability to provide neutral and objective planning recommendations (2.43 out of 5), suggesting that trust remains a key obstacle. Even in the area where they were rated most highly – thought leadership – they were still deemed to be just below satisfactory (2.93).

“At a time when the challenge of media has never been greater, it is disappointing to see that so many marketing and media professionals are struggling to implement media strategies or forge relationships that deliver long-term growth," ID Comms consultant Paul Stringer said.

Meanwhile, the report also revealed divided views on who should be responsible for the advertiser’s media strategy. Around 73% of respondents think that marketing professionals should be responsible, while nearly half of all agency respondents (45%) believe they should be responsible, an increase of nearly 10% from 2017.

With the changing attitudes in procurement, Stringer the industry could be witnessing the emergence of a "new kind of procurement leader", one for whom cost reduction is just one part of a larger set of objectives around driving innovation, ROI and business development.

The "ID Comms Global Media Thinking Report 2019 is based on responses from 177 global marketing, media, and procurement professionals with a range of global, regional and local market responsibilities across a diverse spectrum of categories. All major agency holding groups and some independent media agencies also participated in this research.

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