Advertiser Perceptions’ agency evaluation report shows one in three marketers exploring non-traditional alternatives.

NEW YORK (December 13, 2017) – Advertiser Perceptions, the business intelligence firm that tracks what advertisers think about advertising issues and providers, today introduced Choosing the Right Ad Agency, an in-depth selection guide based on interviews with more than 600 U.S. marketing executives. The report defines their attitudes toward existing agency relationships, identifies the criteria marketers now apply in selecting different types of agencies, and ranks nearly 100 leading agencies on more than 30 performance and service factors.

WPP comes out on top among holding companies, in the top quartile across five key criteria (the only agency to do so), while Leo Burnett gets the best review for creative agencies. Overall, marketers give top marks to Accenture, Deloitte and IBM along with Havas, Merkle, MXM and R/GA. By extension, clients find a lot to like in search, with 360i, Acronym, Catalyst, Performics, Resolution Media and Sapient Razorfish sharing lead honors. Assembly, Horizon Media and UM are the top quartile ranked media agencies on an overall basis.

“Despite the extreme vetting marketers undertake to pick agencies, most leave out what other marketers think because there’s no easy way to get references,͟ said Ken Pearl, CEO of Advertiser Perceptions. ͞Maybe that’s why so many get caught in a regular cycle of reviewing their agencies. By bringing peer perceptions and reviews into one guide, we’re hoping to provide a standard that ultimately raises the success rate.

Choosing the Right Ad Agency debuts amid mounting concern over transparency in advertising, record activity in agency reviews, and unprecedented competition from a widening range of non-agency providers. The report highlights the tension between agencies and clients, finding that 68% of marketers feel their agencies aren’t open and transparent on costs, and 63% of marketers aren’t willing to share meaningful KPIs with their agencies. Significantly, higher-level executives and larger advertisers are even less satisfied and less trusting of their agencies.

“For the first time, at your fingertips, in one guidebook, you have unbiased ratings for agencies across the media spectrum from creative to digital to search to media, said Mike Mazza, Senior Director of Marketing at Reynolds Brands. “This is an invaluable tool for any marketer that works with agencies and should be the starting point for anybody involved in an agency RFP process.”

Meanwhile, a significant number of marketers say they are getting more comfortable with non-traditional agency options. One in three marketers are considering the digital arms of global consulting firms, and 29% say these competitors provide more services than holding company agencies. Also, 27% say they are now turning to Facebook and Google for services they used to count on from more traditional agencies. Given the innovations in advertising technology, 30% of marketers say they are increasingly likely to bring ad planning and buying in-house.

The full report with in-depth ratings is available at