Digiday Research: 69% of marketers aren’t looking to use consultancies for ad agency work

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

Most marketers don’t have plans to use consultancies and their agency services over the next six months. In a survey of 47 brand marketers by Digiday Research this fall, the majority of respondents said they have no plans to use consulting firms’ agency services for brand strategy, creative production, media planning or strategy or media buying. 

Only 17% of respondents said they’re currently using consultancies for any of this type of work, while 14% said they plan to use them for any of this type of work within the next six months.

While consulting firms have made inroads into agency services, many on the agency side claim that the “threat” is overblown — that they don’t run into many consultancies during pitches, for example. 

It’s an assessment WPP made back in 2017, when it said in an earnings report that the impact of consultancies on the industry is an overhyped trend. And it’s something that’s come up previously: Brands are finding that consultants aren’t able to clearly execute on turning certain issues into actual actions that will change a business.

“There’s a certain arrogance that goes with the consulting firms that have the ear of the C-suite because they know as a senior marketer you sit outside of that,” one executive told Digiday. “Even though they’re not experts when it comes to media and advertising, they’re able to get away with it because of the position they have.”

It’s true that who does the work is shifting: Among respondents to Digiday’s survey, for example, only 17% of respondents said they were “mostly using agencies” for marketing tasks. No respondents said they’re 100% relying on agencies. More than half said they are managing marketing mostly in-house.


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