Clients "happy" with their briefing process, agencies not

We know the importance of a good brief. We have all read countless articles, and how to guides on creating good briefs. But the reality is, the problem is not easily solved and problems in writing a good brief, persist.

But according to a recent study by World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) the creation process is getting better. But of course, improvement is still needed.  The survery was conducted by WFA in partnership with global marketing management consultancy, The Observatory International.

The survey found that while advertisers are "happy" with think they have "improved" their briefing processes, agencies remain skeptical.  For instance, just 12% of brand marketers said they now provide separate briefs for each department or agency, down from 24% in 2014.

Meanwhile, while an equal number (44%) of clients are now briefing with either a common master brief (which includes role-specific requirement for each agency), or a single brief for all stakeholders involved. This is an improvement from 36% and 40% respectively, in 2014.

Agencies, however, disagree and have a different point of view.

Roughly three quarters of clients (73%) revealed they include a single-minded proposition and a single view of the customer in their briefs. Agencies are however frustrated and 76% highlight the sporadic nature of the inclusion of these critical elements. Agencies were even more scathing about the lack of a clear integrated customer journey (93%) or a single view of the customer and a common insight (82%).

While 71% of clients confidently stated that they brief all departments/agencies "at the same time", their agency counterparts disputed that statement with only 24% agreeing that this is happening. Rather, they highlighted the sporadic nature of this approach with 67% of agencies saying that they are "sometimes" briefed at the same time as other agencies, whist 9% say this never happens.

With clients and agencies at loggerheads, how do you move forward?

Robert Dreblow, global head of marketing services at WFA said that strong client leadership coupled with agency collaboration is what is needed to ensure consistency and improvement in applying these processes in briefs.He said:

It would seem global brands are making progress in improving their integrated briefing process. Ultimately integration doesn’t come down to agencies or brands, it comes down to people.

Read also: Closer client-agency collaboration will help brands achieve these goals

Similarly, Lucinda Peniston-Baines, co-Founder and managing partner at The Observatory International explained that while the findings did reveal some some degree of overall improvement in the quality of integrated briefing, there are some issues that need to be addressed.

"As agencies’ and clients’ models evolve to deliver more dynamic marketing, having these basics in place - and alignment around them - will become increasingly critical when working at pace,” added Peniston-Baines.

The results are based on responses from 32 multinational clients, across 12 sectors, with annual spend of more than US$14 billion. These responses were compared with those of 46 senior agency staff with global and regional roles to provide an agency view of progress.

Read also: Great content starts with a great client-agency relationship