Digiday+ Research: Agencies think their companies will fare better than the industry in 2023

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 →

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Overall, there’s a lot of optimism among agencies heading into 2023, according to a Digiday+ Research survey of 79 agency professionals. Agencies feel good about the year they each had in 2022, how 2022 shook out for the industry and where they’ll end up in 2023. But there is a clear shift moving away from unfettered optimism toward cautious optimism among agencies.

Eighty-four percent of agency pros told Digiday they agreed that their companies had a successful 2022 — which is a very high number considering the current economic climate. Meanwhile, 74% agreed that the agency business overall had a successful year. This is still a large number, but it is a difference from those that said their individual companies were successful last year. This suggests many agencies consider their own businesses are faring better than the overall industry.

This difference widens when looking at the data heading into 2023. Eighty-three percent of agency pros told Digiday that they agree that they’re optimistic about their company’s prospects for 2023 — again, a big number considering the current climate. On the other hand, agencies don’t see the industry doing as well: 70% of agency pros said they agree that they’re optimistic about prospects for the agency business as a whole heading into 2023.

There are some interesting trends to note, comparing this year’s survey results with last year’s: The percentage of agency pros who said they’re optimistic about their companies’ prospects this year is actually down this year — 83% said this at the end of 2022, compared with 93% at the end of 2021. Additionally, 83% of agency pros told Digiday last year that they agreed they were optimistic about the industry’s prospects for 2022, compared with 70% for 2023.

Drilling a bit further into agencies’ optimism about 2023, it is clear that the type of optimism agency pros are experiencing at the beginning of 2023 is different from the optimism they experienced at the beginning of 2022.

Between Digiday’s 2021 and 2022 year-end surveys, the percentages of agency pros who agreed somewhat versus agreed strongly that their companies had a successful year flip-flopped: 48% of respondents agreed strongly that their companies had a successful 2021, and 37% agreed somewhat. This time around, 38% of respondents agreed strongly that their companies had a successful 2022, and 46% agreed somewhat — indicating that shift away from the overt optimism felt in the industry a year ago.

Interestingly, agency pros’ attitudes toward the industry overall didn’t change much between 2021 and 2022. The percentage of respondents who agreed somewhat that the agency business had a successful year rose very slightly from 48% in 2021 to 51% in 2022, and the percentage of those who agreed strongly that the industry had a good year fell 1 percentage point from 24% in 2021 to 23% in 2022.

Another interesting trend to note is that not one respondent said they strongly disagreed that they’re optimistic about their company’s prospects or the industry’s prospects for either 2022 or 2023.

Another notable difference between last year and this year is among the agency pros who strongly agree that they are optimistic about the coming year: 48% of respondents to last year’s survey told Digiday they strongly agreed they were optimistic about their companies’ prospects for 2022. That percentage fell to 32% for 2023. And a similar difference cropped up regarding agencies’ optimism about the industry overall: 32% said last year they agreed strongly they were optimistic about 2022 prospects for the agency business, which fell to 23% this year.


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