Research by Borrell Associates sheds light on 4 key advertising takeaways

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


I recently attended the spring survey presentation by Borrell Associates and found confirmation, as if we needed it, as to what we have talked about in my newsletter already — specifically around what agencies and advertisers think of us and where they need help from us going forward. 

The survey was all about the findings from 2,500 agencies and direct buyers who were asked several things — what they spend on advertising, what types of media they bought, what they are buying in 2022, and what qualitative comments had they regarding media’s approach to them. 

Research from Borrell Associates finds local ad buyers are novices, and social/OTT are popular with advertisers.
Research from Borrell Associates finds local ad buyers are novices, and social/OTT are popular with advertisers.

In essence, the main (referred to as “master” agencies) are buying the likes of TV, online banners/display ads, digital/streaming video, and social media, other channels such as radio, outdoor, print (newspapers, magazines), and direct mail feature strongly still. Borrell noted that digital media, whilst being bought, is not dominating. 

With local businesses, they found they are buying radio, social media, events/sponsorships, and newspapers as their top four choices. Radio and newspapers remain in the mix, with higher usage than many forms of digital media. 

It seems that 5pc of advertiser revenues are spent on advertising (on average) however, those who are what Borrell call the “believers” (those who spend 10% or more of company revenue on advertising) highlight a significant difference in the rate of usage between those who invest heavily in advertising vs. those who do not. 

Here the top four are streaming audio, content marketing, broadcast, streaming video/OTT. Newspapers come towards the bottom here.

So, of the conclusions Borrell make, four points stood out to me:

1. Local buyers are still novices: 53% are classified as novices, meaning they likely have questions and need advice. They are looking for partners who can assist them. 

Q: Do we recognise this and provide the help they need to untangle the myriad of platforms at their disposal? 

2. The “master” agencies also need help: 87% of agencies are classified as master marketers but see traditional media companies as partners. 

Q: Are we exploiting this?

3. Not much media elimination is prevalent: While two in five agencies plan to reduce spending on “something,” only 1.5% of advertisers areactually, eliminating something altogether. 

Q: They might be buying less of our offerings, but they are still buying. Are we shy of pushing print for example? It still has a place alongside our digital portfolio.

4. Social & OTT are hot: Agencies and advertisers both report continued focus or higher focus on these two forms of advertising.

Q: Do we truly understand how these channels work and how we stack up against them? Know your enemy!

Qualitative results: From a qualitative point of view, Borrell also highlighted some of the comment buyers at advertisers and agencies made when taking about media companies. They were telling and match much of what we have spoken about in past newsletters and blogs.

They are anonymised obviously … some negative, some positive. Which camp does your sales teams fall in? 

Negative: “Speak in clear language. We don't know all the jargon and acronyms. Provide follow up and regular feedback on how the advertising is doing. We almost never hear from anyone after the sale is made.”

“Many companies have statistics for their products but do not know how to advise their clients on how to advertise. Meaning, we need help knowing what to advertise, not just where to advertise. What works? What doesn’t? I think media companies are out of touch with how to advise their clients on what works. I can read all the statistics in the world and understand them, but that doesn’t tell me what to advertise to get the engagement”. 

Positive: “We are looking to partner with other companies for the benefit of our surrounding communities, involvement with and for the people we serve. Connecting personally through our products, service, and employees. Not necessarily interested in straight advertising but advertising with the purpose of making the places we live and serve better, safer, stronger, united.” 

“It’s nice when partnering with media companies as I don’t generally have the time to stay updated on the latest/greatest marketing strategies.” 

Conclusion: We all need to learn from the above. Be more consultative, keep a constant stream of communications going, be a resource of knowledge and insights, get the mix of offerings right, and get to be trusted by our agencies and advertisers.

Results will follow.

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About Mark Challinor

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