Can marketers recover trust between clients and agencies?

October 8, 2021

Trust could appear spontaneously, resulting from the chemistry and mutual feelings between two parties. But in business, trust is always an outcome of the interactions, mutual respect, and loyalty. And to create all these, one needs time. The destruction, on the other side, is much easier and faster. In the ruins falls any former great collaboration. Trust among people is or the basis for relationship continuity. states that the lack of transparency is what indeed brought us to a slow breakdown in customer-agency relationships over the last decade. At the core of the problem are the new business model and positioning of the media agencies. The big media shops no longer buy media space, negotiating the best offers and prices for the client and their brand to most effectively achieve its goals. They sell media space to their customers. Thus, media holding groups become wholesalers and the media shops – their retail hidden weapons. Issues with media transparency, fake advertisements, and brand security issues further burden the client-agency relationship.

Advertisers usually believe the agencies to act in their best interests. Some agencies are on the same page in terms of shared principles, but others only perceive the relationship to a contractual agreement of money-space exchange. According to some agencies, among the reason for the declining trust are also the lower payments, in particular for creative work. 

Recognizing the main reason for the collapse in the relationship, marketers now place transparency among the leading criteria for the selection process in agency pitches.

Considering the growing trust issue, the rapid development of technology could be an additional disturbing factor for the agencies. Carl Erik Kjaersgaard, CEO and co-founder of Blackwood Seven A / S consulting, predicts that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will replace traditional media agencies. Kjaersgaard anticipates that AI and ML would squeeze the entire media process from nine weeks, the typical schedule of an ad agency, to nine seconds. Moreover, the customers can browse platforms in real-time, see results on a daily, weekly, even hourly basis.

However, especially in the context of the pandemic and reduced budgets, advertisers today receive the best possible media planning or creative work for their money. And now is the perfect time for marketers to reclaim trust and transparency in relationships. If your role means you are in charge of this process, be careful not to push too much the agencies, try applying new co-working models, dare to ask difficult questions, and most of all, read the text in small print.

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