CMOs Give D- to Digital and Traditional Agencies on Integrated Strategies

CMOs rate their agencies a D- at bringing the digital and traditional worlds together.

At a time when most agencies are promoting their ability to provide clients with high-quality integrated services across domains, most CMOs are having a different experience. CMOs worry about brands and messages being diluted because agencies don’t bring them together. Marketing decision makers rate the actual execution of cross-domain services a D- (6.3 out of 10).

How Agencies Miss the Mark When it Comes to Integration

BTI asked more than 150 CMOs at large organizations with $1 billion or more in revenue about how agencies are integrating traditional and digital approaches. In addition to grading agencies a D-, they said:


“Agencies don’t connect the dots. I have to bring the agency ideas on how to integrate messages.”

–Digital Marketing Manager, Leading Industrial Supplier

“When it comes to integrated services you get generalists, not specialists. You end up outsourcing to specialists anyway.”

–Director of Digital Strategy, Global Pharmaceutical Company

“What I found with agencies able to cross the spectrum is they count services as expertise, but they don’t really have experts in all media channels.”

–Director of Business Strategy, Large Auto Wholesaler

“Pure-play providers are specialists so you can go deeper with them.”

–VP Corporate Marketing, Specialized Professional Services Giant


This drives the reverse trend of what agencies hope to see. Instead of capturing more work from a single client, CMOs will keep the work separated until they believe one agency can truly handle integrated services.


See exactly what clients are saying about advertising agencies in the new BTI Client Service A-Team: CMOs Rank Digital and Traditional Agencies. 

Order now for the advertising agencies ranked best by CMOs in over 17 categories, as well as the most insightful industry analysis for both digital and traditional agencies and much more.

CMOs Plan to Cut Agencies by 1/3: 6 Tactics to Stay Off the Chopping Block

CMOs expect to cut their roster of agencies by 33%—from 7 agencies down to fewer than 5 by 2017. This consolidation stems from the search for better service, more value, and more streamlined agency management.

The good news: agencies can use this knowledge to build stronger, lasting relationships with large clients.

The bad news: most agencies are not equipped to do this.

Savvy agencies will use this trend to their advantage by delivering what other agencies don’t: superior service.


Solutions Tailored to Each Client

Another way of looking at superior client service: delivering client-focused services. Client focus is the ability to deliver on your client’s targeted outcomes—which are not always in sync with the agency’s best ideas.

Client’s objectives change. Whether new strategic plans are implemented, reorganization occurs, or an acquisition takes place, your client’s situation is constantly shifting. These changes impact the overall goals a client is trying to achieve.

Client thinking and external factors frequently shift goals from when you first learn about a project to when work actually begins. Always reconfirm the goals before you begin to expend resources.

These 6 tactics ensure you and your client are on the same page throughout the project:

  1. Before you start work, ask your client about their objectives
  2. Probe as to how your client defines success
  3. Discuss any management mandates or pressures your client is facing
  4. Actively confirm goals—in writing
  5. Include clients in your thought process at major decision points
  6. Share—and obtain feedback on—potential solutions as you perform the work (not afterwards)

Once you understand your client’s goals, you’re ready to provide custom, tailored services to best meet their unique and specific needs.


Learn over 50 more proven tactics for delivering the absolute best client service in the new BTI Client Service A-Team: CMOs Rank Digital and Traditional AgenciesIncludes the advertising agencies ranked best by CMOs in over 17 categories—including Client Focus—and packed with insightful industry analysis for both digital and traditional agencies and much more.

Technology Is Not Killing Advertising. Agencies Are.

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.